Last week, The Guardian published its annual “Next Generation” list, featuring 60 of the best young talents born in 2001. Accordingly, these players are only 17, and we all certainly realize the foolish nature of tagging a teenager for predestined greatness (unless they move like Kylian Mbappé).
But there is some method to the madness.
Dating back to the list’s beginning the 2014, five American players have been selected. In 2014, it was Sporting Kansas City center back Erik Palmer-Brown. He’s currently on the books at Manchester City but out on loan in the Eredivisie with NAC Breda. In 2015, it was Borussia Dortmund winger Christian Pulisic. He’s gone on to do quite well for himself.
2017 was the year of Nick Taitague. The 19-year-old is a midfielder for Schalke 04 in the Bundesliga, but he’s yet to make his debut for the senior side. Last year, it was PSG’s Timothy Weah and Atlanta United’s Andrew Carleton. Weah scored his first Ligue 1 goal back on Aug. 12, and Carleton started his first MLS match on July 21.
This year’s player, as selected by Guardian US sports editor Tom Lutz, is immediately eye-catching for two reasons: (1) He’s got the greatest name in all of football, and (2) he’s playing for Barcelona. It’s Konrad de la Fuente, a Miami native who plays as a forward/winger for Barca’s Juvenil A squad and the U.S. U-18s.
Goooolazzoo de @konradjr! Santos 0-1 Juvenil B. #FCBMasia #MundialClubesJuvenil pic.twitter.com/a0K0TQiPY2— neurophate (@neurophate_) May 31, 2018
De La Fuente has appeared in both of Barcelona’s UEFA Youth League fixtures this season, where the club is in group play alongside PSV Eindhoven, Tottenham and Inter. He registered an assist in the 2-1 victory over PSV back on Sept. 18.
The young player's rise took another step this weekend as he was an unused substitute during Barcelona B’s (the reserve team) 3-0 win over Ontinyent in Spain’s third division.
— Konrad De La Fuente (@konradjr) February 4, 2018
Konrad de la Fuente - FC Barcelona
Konrad has made appearances for Barcelona's Juvenil A and B side this season. He has a knock for goals, is very smooth on the ball and is very composed in the final third. He is expected to become a full member of Juvenil A next season. pic.twitter.com/tA6tDDAFfa— USMNT Videos (@USMNTvideos) June 18, 2018
We’re not saying that De La Fuente is obviously the next Messi, but look!
D10S pic.twitter.com/PBXCMNcn97— Konrad De La Fuente (@konradjr) November 16, 2017
The kid is obviously living his best life, and we're excited to see more.