1. Rivaldo Coetzee: With a name like that, the South African was destined to become a footballer. He made his Bafana Bafana debut at 17 (becoming the youngest player to ever represent SA at senior level) and a year later he is already one of the first names on coach Shakes Mashaba’s team sheet. The centre-back plays for Ajax Cape Town and could well be fast-tracked to the mother club in Amsterdam quite soon.
2. Wilfrid Kaptoum: The 19-year-old Cameroonian is a combative midfielder with immense energy and tenacity. He is highly regarded at Barcelona, and could be their breakout star of 2016. He made his senior debut against Espanyol last season, but has feature more prominently for the B side this season, with whom he won the Uefa youth league last year. He has one Champions League outing under his belt and one Copa del Rey appearance as well.
3. Kelechi Iheanacho: Here’s another 19-year-old set for a great 2016. The Nigerian has already featured for Manchester City both in the Premier League and League Cup this season, and has four goals in 13 games in both competitions. Iheanacho, besides being a prolific goalscorer, is also good passer of the ball with great vision and the ability to dictate and decide games. He was voted Africa’s most promising player of 2013, after winning the Under-17 World Cup.
4. Adama Traore: Four goals and three assists for Mali at the 2015 Under-20 World Cup plus some breath-taking displays meant he emerged the best player of the tournament. This 20-year-old skilful midfielder will be one of Africa’s biggest stars of 2016. He has already played eight games for Monaco this term, and has one assist to his credit.
5. Keita Balde: He’s a star. The young Senegalese has turned from a Barcelona reject to one of the most promising African players, and 2016 may well be the year he receives worldwide acclaim. He has played 16 games for Lazio this season with two goals and five assists, and has averaged a pass success rate of 87.3%. He also won the Coppa Italia with Lazio two years ago.
6. Isaac Success: The 19-year-old striker has scored three goals and has three assists for Granada this season in La Liga. He has so far averaged four shots on target and has won one man-of-the-match award. A powerful striker, the Nigerian likes to take defenders on with his pace and strength.
7. Godfred Donsah: He is called ‘The new Michael Essien’. The 19-year-old Ghanaian shares more than great energy levels and tenacity with the former Chelsea midfielder. He bombs forward for Bologna and contributes with goals and assists. The versatile midfielder is destined for great things and 2016 could be his year.
8. Bertrand Traore: The 20-year-old Burkina Faso international is a skilful left-footed dazzler, who combines impressive dribbling skills with great awareness and goals. He scored 17 on loan at Vitesse Arnhem last season and when you consider his 77.4 percent pass success per game, it makes for good reading. He could be one of those to turn Chelsea’s season around in 2016.
9. Victor Osimhen: This lanky striker scored 10 goals for Nigeria at the Under-17 World Cup in Chile, and has been the subject of interest for several of Europe’s top clubs. He possesses a keen eye for goal, scoring one of every two shots on target. A pure goal scorer, Osimhen could be one of the breakout stars of the New Year.
10. Josh Onomah: The Anglo-Ghanaian youngster has made a few brief (impressive) forays into the Tottenham Hotspur first team. With youth being given a chance at White Hart Lane-and taking it-expect to see the versatile midfielder more regularly over 2016.