7 Rising Young Stars Hoping for a Breakthrough Year in 2018

For young players who took their first steps in senior football last year, 2018 promises to be a huge opportunity to further establish themselves and make the all important breakthrough.

Here's a look at seven top talents at huge European clubs to keep and eye on this year...

7. Harry Wilson (Liverpool)

Whether it be in the form of a rumoured loan move to Championship playoff hopefuls Preston, or a handful of first-team appearances for Liverpool, 2018 has the potential to be a huge year for Harry Wilson.

Due to turn 21 years of age in March, Wilson has only played once for Liverpool's first-team to date, but has scored an impressive nine goals in only 10 games at Under-23 level.  

6. Fabrizio Caligara (Juventus)

Earlier this season, Fabrizio Caligara became only the second player born in the 21st century to play in the Champions League when he featured in the closing stages of Juventus' clash with Barcelona.

The 17-year-old midfielder hasn't played another first-team game since, but 2018 offers much promise for Caligara, a local player born only 50 miles or so from Turin.

5. Eddie Nketiah (Arsenal)

Young Arsenal forward Eddie Nketiah finished 2017 by signing a new long-term contract with the Gunners, coming just a few weeks after he netted his first two senior goals in a Carabao Cup tie against Norwich, including an extra-time winner.

Manager Arsene Wenger has already promised that 18-year-old Nketiah 'continue to get a chance' when quizzed about the player's immediate prospects in October.  

4. Ethan Ampadu (Chelsea)

Formerly of Exeter City, Ethan Ampadu emerged on the scene at Chelsea towards the closing stages of 2017 and will hope that 2018 will offer even more first-team opportunities.

Already a full Wales international, the 17-year-old defensive midfielder/centre-back has 10 minutes of Premier League football under his belt so far, as well as starting twice in the Carabao Cup.  

3. Achraf Hakimi (Real Madrid)

Teenage right-back Achraf Hakimi has enjoyed several chances with Real Madrid so far this season, starting four times in La Liga, and will look to 2018 as an opportunity to continue his development.

Besides just league football, Real coach Zinedine Zidane has trusted Achraf in Copa del Rey and Champions League on occasion in place of Dani Carvajal. The Morocco international was also favoured for the FIFA Club World Cup semi-final last month.

2. Scott McTominay (Manchester United)

Midfielder Scott McTominay was handed a Manchester United debut by Jose Mourinho towards the back end of last season and has continued to be involved with the first-team during the first half of 2017/18 and looks set to play more and more in the new calendar year.

Mourinho described himself as having 'lots of faith' in McTominay when speaking about the youngster's future in December.  

1. Phil Foden (Manchester City)

Phil Foden had a stunning 2017, winning the Under-17 World Cup with England and receiving the Golden Ball award as best player. He also made four appearances for Manchester City's first-team in November and December, with this just the beginning for the 17-year-old.

City's enormous lead at the top of the Premier League table will only aid Foden, with Pep Guardiola likely to give more chances to youngsters when the team is winning.