With the soccer calendar on hold, theScore's editors took the opportunity to look ahead to the future. Gordon Brunt, Michael Chandler, Anthony Lopopolo, Gianluca Nesci, and Daniel Rouse participated in a fantasy mock draft with just one stipulation: players had to be 21 or younger to be eligible for selection.
|1||Kylian Mbappe (PSG)||Brunt|
|2||Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund)||Rouse|
|3||Matthijs de Ligt (Juventus)||Nesci|
|4||Erling Haaland (Borussia Dortmund)||Chandler|
|5||Christian Pulisic (Chelsea)||Lopopolo|
Analysis: To the surprise of absolutely nobody, Mbappe is the first overall pick. That he's still just 21 years old is, frankly, absurd; he went second overall in our mock draft of all current players. Elsewhere, Nesci is the only manager to go defensive in Round 1.
|6||Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool)||Lopopolo|
|7||Alphonso Davies (Bayern Munich)||Chandler|
|8||Achraf Hakimi (Borussia Dortmund)||Nesci|
|9||Gianluigi Donnarumma (AC Milan)||Rouse|
|10||Vinicius Junior (Real Madrid)||Brunt|
Analysis: Round 2 sees a run on defensive-oriented players, even if Alexander-Arnold, Hakimi, and Davies are all supremely talented going forward from their full-back positions. Given the relatively weak crop of Under-21 goalkeepers, Rouse springs for Donnarumma early to ensure he's set between the sticks.
|11||Joao Felix (Atletico Madrid)||Brunt|
|12||Kai Havertz (Bayer Leverkusen)||Rouse|
|13||Sandro Tonali (Brescia)||Nesci|
|14||Federico Valverde (Real Madrid)||Chandler|
|15||Ferran Torres (Valencia)||Lopopolo|
Analysis: The snake format comes to the fore here, as Brunt, incredibly, comes away from the opening three rounds with Mbappe, Vinicius, and Felix. The three young superstars cost a combined €316 million in transfer fees, and Brunt was able to grab all of them. Highway robbery.
|16||Nicolo Zaniolo (Roma)||Lopopolo|
|17||Dayot Upamecano (RB Leipzig)||Chandler|
|18||Eduardo Camavinga (Rennes)||Nesci|
|19||Houssem Aouar (Lyon)||Rouse|
|20||William Saliba (Saint-Etienne)||Brunt|
Analysis: Ligue 1, arguably the greatest talent incubator in world football, shines with a trio of players in Round 4 - even if Saliba is only being groomed at Saint-Etienne before joining parent club Arsenal. What's more, four of the players are French, highlighting Les Bleus' wealth of riches.
|21||Declan Rice (West Ham)||Brunt|
|22||Ibrahima Konate (RB Leipzig)||Rouse|
|23||Ansu Fati (Barcelona)||Nesci|
|24||Boubacar Kamara (Marseille)||Chandler|
|25||Matteo Guendouzi (Arsenal)||Lopopolo|
Analysis: As we've seen in previous mock drafts, positional versatility is an enormous bonus when building your squad. Both Rouse and Chandler take that to heart in Round 5; Konate, another RB Leipzig standout, can play multiple defensive positions, while Marseille's Kamara can shift between central defense and midfield.
|26||Dan-Axel Zagadou (Borussia Dortmund)||Lopopolo|
|27||Gabriel Martinelli (Arsenal)||Chandler|
|28||Phil Foden (Manchester City)||Nesci|
|29||Martin Odegaard (Real Sociedad)||Rouse|
|30||Mason Mount (Chelsea)||Brunt|
Analysis: Zagadou, the imposing Borussia Dortmund defender, is the outlier here. That's another Frenchman if you're keeping score, by the way. After Chandler takes breakout youngster Martinelli, we get a mini-run on creative midfielders, including "the most talented player" Pep Guardiola has ever seen in Foden.
|31||Sergino Dest (Ajax)||Brunt|
|32||Mason Greenwood (Manchester United)||Rouse|
|33||Reece James (Chelsea)||Nesci|
|34||Alban Lafont (Nantes)||Chandler|
|35||Boubakary Soumare (Lille)||Lopopolo|
Analysis: A pair of rising English stars come off the board in Round 7, while another goalkeeper gets snapped up. Lafont, on loan at Nantes from Fiorentina, is the only shot-stopper in his age bracket with the top-flight experience to rival Donnarumma.
|36||Alessandro Bastoni (Inter Milan)||Lopopolo|
|37||Max Aarons (Norwich City)||Chandler|
|38||Alexander Isak (Real Sociedad)||Nesci|
|39||Rodrygo (Real Madrid)||Rouse|
|40||Aaron Ramsdale (Bournemouth)||Brunt|
Analysis: We're starting to see selections made based on need, as five different positions are represented in Round 8. Swedish striker Isak, dubbed by some as the country's successor to Zlatan Ibrahimovic, highlights the depth of today's young forwards.
|41||Bukayo Saka (Arsenal)||Brunt|
|42||Ethan Ampadu (RB Leipzig)||Rouse|
|43||Jean-Clair Todibo (Schalke)||Nesci|
|44||Jonathan David (Gent)||Chandler|
|45||Victor Osimhen (Lille)||Lopopolo|
Analysis: Lopopolo picking up Osimhen, one of Ligue 1's top scorers prior to the season's cancellation, represents excellent value in Round 9. Gent forward David is the second Canadian to be selected, which is probably not something you would've expected to see at this point last year.
|46||Andriy Lunin (Oviedo)||Lopopolo|
|47||Callum Hudson-Odoi (Chelsea)||Chandler|
|48||Dejan Kulusevski (Parma)||Nesci|
|49||Brandon Williams (Manchester United)||Rouse|
|50||Dani Olmo (RB Leipzig)||Brunt|
Analysis: Winger was arguably the most abundant position in this draft, hence Hudson-Odoi and Kulusevski still being available. Meanwhile, Brunt makes another shrewd pick by getting Olmo with his second-to-last selection.
|51||Eric Garcia (Manchester City)||Brunt|
|52||Emerson (Real Betis)||Rouse|
|53||Maarten Vandevoordt (Genk)||Nesci|
|54||Giovanni Reyna (Borussia Dortmund)||Chandler|
|55||Marc Cucurella (Getafe)||Lopopolo|
Analysis: Fittingly, the youngest player in the draft is taken in the final round. Reyna, Borussia Dortmund's 17-year-old American playmaker, is three days younger than Camavinga, who went in the fourth round.
Who was the most egregious snub? Have your say in the comments.
Despite the parameters of the draft, there were still several marquee names - primarily attackers - who went unselected. The likes of Moise Kean, Rafael Leao, and Francisco Trincao didn't make the cut. Ditto for Samuel Chukwueze and Timothy Weah. There was no room for wingers like Justin Kluivert and Ezequiel Barco, either. In midfield, Dominik Szoboszlai and Exequiel Palacios were the notable snubs, while Malang Sarr and Panagiotis Retsos were surprising defensive omissions.
We've mentioned this already, but it really is wild that Brunt managed to load up with Mbappe, Vinicius, and Felix. Getting Olmo in support of that electrifying trio is quite the coup, too. It's asking a lot of Rice to essentially hold down the entire defensive midfield area on his own, but there was always going to be a trade-off when you're dealing with that much firepower.
Greenwood, Manchester United's ambipedal striker, would get plenty of service leading the line for this team. And not only from dynamic wide players Sancho and Rodrygo. The midfield trio is slick and inventive; Odegaard, on loan at Real Sociedad from Real Madrid, was finally delivering on his boundless potential before play was halted this season.
Balanced and explosive. There's an impressive blend of technique and physical prowess in this lineup, with the midfield duo of Tonali and Camavinga the prime examples. Vandevoordt, who endured a rather unfortunate Champions League debut with Genk, is the least-inspiring goalkeeper of the five taken, but his exploits would hardly matter behind that solid backline.
Attack, attack, attack. That's the mantra for this team, which is loaded with exciting forwards. Even Valverde, the most withdrawn of the front six, has proven adept at bursting through midfield and getting forward during his breakout season with Real Madrid. In Lafont, Upamecano, and Valverde, Chandler's side has an impeccable spine.
Speed kills, and Lopopolo has put together an absolutely rapid front three. Zaniolo's no slouch in a straight sprint, either. A formidable center-back duo is buttressed by Guendouzi and Soumare, while Alexander-Arnold is equal parts defensive stalwart and attacking savant from his right-back spot. Overall, we're dealing with a very well-constructed XI here.
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