Indian defender Bikash Yumnam makes The Guardian’s top-60 shortlist of teenage footballers

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Punjab FC central defender Bikash Yumnam is among the top 60 under-18 footballers to watch out for, according to The Guardian. The list which has players from Manchester City, PSG, Real Madrid Arsenal, Juventus and Bayern Munich among others was published on Thursday.

Yumnam’s 84-word profile on the leading newspaper’s website mentions his performance in the 2018 Asian under-16 championship where India made the quarter-finals, losing 0-1 to South Korea. It was the only goal India conceded in the competition following 0-0 draws against Iran and Indonesia. The quarter-final loss meant India were one win from qualifying for the 2019 under-17 World Cup.

“Composed on the ball, a great reader of the game, and capable of excellent, fast, long throw-ins, the teenager has already been earmarked for a quick progression to the full international side,” the report said.

“Can’t believe…my BIKASH YUMNAM is the only Indian player named in this very prestigious list…WOW-kudos to my coaches,” wrote Ranjit Bajaj on Twitter. Bajaj owned Minerva Punjab FC before it renamed Punjab FC last in October 2019.

Yumnam was loaned to Indian Arrows, the All India Football Federation’s development side, for the 2019-20 I-League. After 16 games, the Indians-only Arrows who are protected from relegation were at the bottom of the 11-team standings. Yumnan played nine games in the I-League top tier before it was halted because of Covid-19.

Dayot Upamecano, Timothy Fosu-Mensah, Martin Odegaard, Ianis Hagi, who is Gheorghe Hagi’s son,Federico Valverde are some of the names from list compiled in 2015. Kai Havertz features in the 2016 list as does Gianluigi Donnarumma, Matthijs de Light and Diogo Dalot, Vinicius Junior was named in 2017 as one of the 60 teenagers to watch out for as was Alphonso Davies, Jadon Sancho and Erling Braut Haaland. When Rodrygo made the shortlist in 2018, he hadn’t moved to Real Madrid and was with Santos. Mason Greenwood was among those listed for big things in 2018 as was Eric Garcia. Eduardo Camavinga made the cut last year.

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