To be eligible for the list, you simply need to be born on or after January 1st 1994.
Daniel Edwards provides some expert insight into the latest on the list.
If reports are correct Lautaro Martínez has already sealed a move to Atlético Madrid and even at the reported fee in the region of €12-13 million it looks to be an absolute steal for Diego Simeone’s side. For anyone who has caught a glimpse of Racing Club or Argentina under-20s in the past couple of years, there will likely have been one player who stood out when the boy they call ElToro was on the pitch.
A product of Club Atlético Liniers in his hometown of Bahía Blanca, Martínez immediately caught the eye of Racing’s scouts while playing in a regional under-17 side in 2014 and after being incorporated into the famous Academia, the youngster swiftly demonstrated his talent. The goals flowed in Racing’s youth sides and the reserves before the 18-year-old realised a dream, replacing club icon Diego Milito for his Primera División debut in October 2015.
Three months later and Martínez showed his scoring instincts with a goal against fierce rivals Independiente during a summer friendly and while his enormous potential was no secret within Racing, the wider community began to take notice.
A little later that year, the striker shone for Argentina in the L’Alcúdia under-20 tournament in Valencia and while Los Pibes lost out to Spain in the final, Martínez ended as the top goal scorer and the player of the tournament. Almost every scout will have scribbled his name in their pads and Real Madrid sounded out Racing over their prodigious talent only to discover Valencia had reportedly been given the first option on Martínez as part of the deal for Rodrigo De Paul.
Staying put couldn’t have proved any more valuable as Martínez was able to remain at Racing and learn from two experienced mentors, Diego Milito and Lisandro López.
His strike rate of 13 from 33 games for Racing has been diluted by early sub appearances but since returning from a metatarsal injury at the start of this season, Martínez has proved why he is now La Academia’s main man, scoring four in six appearances and providing far more than just goals.
If European scouts hadn’t seen enough for Racing to persuade them then Martínez exploits in very poor Argentina under-20 sides has been even more impressive. The once golden-age of Argentine youth football has well and truly given way to mismanagement and disappoint in recent years but that hasn’t prevented Martínez from impressing.
The Racing striker’s goals virtually single-handedly dragged Argentina to the World Cup as the under-20s finished fourth in the South American Championship. His late strikes against Peru, Colombia and Brazil not only helped Martínez to finish as leading scorer but were a demonstration of his outstanding finishing, perseverance and mental capacities, as pointed out by Racing’s club psychologist who rated the striker as having the highest concentration levels at the club.
A silly red card against England at the World Cup denied Martínez a greater window to showcase his talent but he still returned to score twice against Guinea as Argentina crashed out.
A lethal finisher of all types of goals, Martínez’s movement and intelligence around the penalty box creates the minute spaces with which he can finish off both feet and his head. A willing runner into the channels, Toro’s strength makes him almost impossible to knock off the ball and his underrated link-up play and passing can create opportunities for his strike partner.
Quick, strong, tenacious and a natural goal scorer, Atleti look to have bagged themselves a very special player and while the Colchoneros record with the likes of Ángel Correa or Luciano Vietto may not be too impressive, in Martínez, Diego Simeone has a player that already appears more than ready for the rigours of European football.
“There is a lot of buzz right now around Lautaro Martínez, and rightly so. To put it simply, the teenage Racing forward is one of the hottest forward prospects to come out of Argentina since Paulo Dybala electrified the B Nacional with Instituto, and has been widely tipped to complete a lucrative move to Atlético Madrid in the new year. A metatarsal break has frustrated his efforts to continue shining after breaking through in spectacular fashion in Avellaneda at the start of 2017, but that should not blunt a goalscoring instinct and movement in the box that mark Martínez out as a very special centre-forward for the future.”