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Ten rising stars aged 21 or under who could move clubs this summer

Sports Mole picks out 10 rising stars aged 21 or under who could be on the move in this summer's transfer window.

The 2022 summer transfer window is beginning to hot up with clubs across the globe seeking to bolster their squads ahead of the new campaign.

A number of big-money deals having already been confirmed in Europe, including Erling Braut Haaland's switch to Manchester City, Ryan Gravenberch swapping Ajax for Bayern Munich and Leeds United swooping for Brenden Aaronson.

What do all three of these players have in common? They are all below the age of 22, and there are a plethora of other highly-rated youngsters who could be on the move in the coming weeks.

Here, Sports Mole picks out 10 rising stars aged 21 or under who may switch clubs in this summer's transfer window.


Djed Spence (Middlesbrough)

Djed Spence celebrates scoring for Nottingham Forest in October 2021© Reuters

After an impressive 2021-22 season on loan with Championship playoff winners Nottingham Forest, Djed Spence is expected to leave Middlesbrough and ply his trade in the Premier League next season.

However, a return to the City Ground may not be on the cards for the 21-year-old, as Tottenham Hotspur are seemingly leading the race for the right-back's signature, with further discussions over a move to North London set to take place.

Spence, who could cost Spurs in the region of £15m, recorded three goals and five assists in 50 appearances with Forest and was named in the 2021-22 Championship Team of the Season.


Brennan Johnson (Nottingham Forest)

Nottingham Forest's Brennan Johnson celebrates after the match, January 22, 2022© Reuters

Another British prospect who starred for Forest last season was attacker Brennan Johnson, who notched up 19 goals and nine assists in 52 games across all tournaments and was named 2021-22 Championship Young Player of the Season.

The 21-year-old, who has just 12 months remaining on his contract, is regarded as an invaluable asset by head coach Steve Cooper, but whether the Reds can keep hold of the Wales international remains to be seen as a host of Premier League clubs have been credited with an interest.

Manchester United are the most high-profile club who are believed to be contemplating a move for Johnson this summer, while the likes of Everton, Leeds, West Ham United and Brentford are also keeping tabs on the attacker, who is valued between £30m and £40m.


Armando Broja (Chelsea)

Armando Broja celebrates scoring for Southampton against Burnley on October 23, 2021© Reuters

Although Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel is keen to assess Armando Broja during pre-season, the 20-year-old striker will look to move away from Stamford Bridge this summer if he is not guaranteed regular first-team football.

Broja impressed while on loan at Southampton last season, scoring nine goals in 38 appearances across all competitions, and both his form and current position at Chelsea is understood to have alerted a number of European clubs.

West Ham are believed to be preparing a £30m offer for the Albania international, while the likes of Arsenal, Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, Newcastle United and Nottingham Forest have also been linked with the striker, who has made only one senior appearance for Chelsea – a four-minute cameo against Everton in March 2020.


Hugo Ekitike (Reims)

Reims' Hugo Ekitike celebrates scoring their third goal against Nantes on September 26, 2021© Reuters

In-demand striker Hugo Ekitike has been heavily linked with a move away from Reims over the last six months after elevating his game to new heights in the 2021-22 campaign, scoring 10 goals in 23 Ligue 1 appearances.

A €30m (£25.6m) deal has allegedly been discussed with Newcastle, although Ekitike, who turned 20 earlier this month, is seeking assurances over playing time before agreeing to move to St James' Park.

A potential switch to either Paris Saint-Germain or Chelsea has also been mooted for Ekitike, and the latter could pursue a deal to sign the Frenchman as a replacement for Inter Milan-bound Romelu Lukaku.


Sergino Dest (Barcelona)

United States international Sergino Dest pictured in June 2021© Reuters

Sergino Dest may have played his last game for Barcelona, as the cash-strapped Catalan giants are allegedly prepared to sell the 21-year-old this summer to free up funds for their top targets.

The attack-minded full-back made 31 appearances last season, but he only started six times in 2022 under head coach Xavi, who is keen to replace the USA international with Chelsea's Cesar Azpilicueta.

It is thought that Barca would be open to selling Dest for €25m (£21.1m), with the likes of Chelsea and Man United believed to be contemplating a move for the defender this summer.


Goncalo Inacio (Sporting Lisbon)

 Sporting CP's Goncalo Inacio during the warm up before the match on February 12, 2022© Reuters

Highly-rated centre-back Goncalo Inacio has been a first-team regular for Sporting Lisbon over the last 18 months, featuring 20 times in their 2020-21 title-winning campaign, before making 35 appearances last season, including seven in the Champions League.

The Portuguese defender's rise in his homeland is understood to have caught the eye of a number of top European clubs including Barcelona, Man United and Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Inacio still has four years remaining on his contract at Sporting, but interested clubs could be tempted to activate the youngster's €45m (£38.5m) release clause.


Aaron Hickey (Bologna)

Aaron Hickey warms up for Bologna in April 2022© Reuters

Since Aaron Hickey made the surprise move from Hearts to Bologna in the summer of 2020, the Scotsman has relished the chance to develop in Italy, making 48 senior appearances across all competitions.

The 20-year-old has two years remaining on his contract, but the versatile full-back has been linked with a return to British football, with a potential switch to the Premier League seemingly too good to turn down.

Bologna could make a significant profit on the defender who cost only £1.5m two years ago, as the Arsenal and Brentford target is now valued in the region of €25m (£21m).


James McAtee (Manchester City)

Manchester City's James McAtee reacts, November 12, 2021© Reuters

While many young prospects could be making permanent moves this summer, several starlets may just be loaned out to gain regular first-team football, and Manchester City's James McAtee is one name who has been linked with a temporary switch away from the Etihad Stadium.

A potential loan to the Championship with Huddersfield Town has been mooted for the 19-year-old, while Premier League trio Brighton & Hove Albion, Leeds and Southampton have also expressed their interest in the attacking midfielder.

McAtee, who has featured six times for Pep Guardiola's senior side, was named the 2021-22 Premier League 2 Player of the Season after a stellar campaign in front of goal, scoring 18 times and providing seven assists in 23 league appearances.


Charles De Ketelaere (Club Brugge)

Belgium's Charles De Ketelaere pictured before kickoff on March 26, 2022© Reuters

At the age of 21, Charles De Ketelaere has already made 120 appearances for Club Brugge and he also has eight senior caps for the Belgium national team.

The versatile forward excelled across all competitions last season, recording 18 goals and 10 assists in 49 appearances, and his form has understandably caught the eye of several top clubs across Europe.

Leeds are the latest team to have been credited with an interest amid reports linking Raphinha with a move away from Elland Road, while the likes of AC Milan, Man City, Tottenham and Leicester City are also keeping tabs on the youngster, who has two years remaining on his Brugge contract.


Enzo Fernandez (River Plate)

Enzo Fernandez celebrates scoring for River Plate on April 14, 2022© Reuters

Having already agreed a deal to sell forward Julian Alvarez to Man City, River Plate could also lose another of their highly-rated South American prospects in the form of midfielder Enzo Fernandez.

European giants Man City, Man United and Real Madrid are all closely monitoring the 21-year-old, while Wolves are the latest club to have joined the race for his signature.

Fernandez, who is believed to have a €20m (£17.2m) release clause in his contract, has been a first-team regular for River Plate in 2022, scoring nine goals and providing six assists in 24 appearances across all tournaments.


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