The best young football players in Wales already signed up by the best teams in the Premier League

-Credit: (Image: Getty)
-Credit: (Image: Getty)

Wales under-17s brought the curtain down on their European Championship campaign on a high over the weekend, earning a spirited 1-1 draw with Croatia in Cyprus on Sunday.

Defeats to Austria and Denmark meant Wales' fate had already been sealed heading into the third and final game. But despite the disappointment of failing to make it out of the group, there are some reasons to be positive about the next generation of Welsh talent.

Here are some of the names you might well be hearing more about over the coming years.

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Cruz Allen (Derby County)

The midfielder netted the only goal of the campaign for Wales, and has already attracted a number of admirers.

The 17-year-old has enjoyed an impressive rise through County's youth system, and was reportedly tracked by Newcastle United and Chelsea recently, while Manchester United were also believed to be very keen.

However, he decided to commit his future to the Rams, signing a first professional contract that will keep him in the East Midlands until 2026.

Derby Academy Manager Matt Hale said at the time: “Cruz has done really well in the Under-21s and also the Under-18s this year and we are keen to recognise players that have come through our pathway here at Derby County”.

“He has a lot of talent and this is fully deserved; we wish him well”.

Brayden Clarke (Arsenal)

Capable of playing as a right-back and centre-back, Clarke signed as a first-year scholar at Arsenal back in March, having previously impressed at Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Speaking about the teenager's progress, elite player development manager at Wolves, Darren Ryan, told the Express and Star: "He plays through the lines really well and he's very comfortable on the ball. Where he's developed a lot is his maturity and psychologically. He's a really young kid, so it's one massive achievement that he's got into that group, let alone the impact he's had.

"His super strength is his passing through the lines, and his disguised passes as well. The way he's developed in the last 12-18 months, I've seen a big change in him getting more confident."

Charlie Walker-Smith (Crystal Palace)

Described as a "modern, ball playing, centre-back," Charlie Walker-Smith is also capable of play at right-back.

The 16-year-old was part of the Palace Under-15s side that won the U15 Floodlit Cup National Final against Stoke City last year, and made his first appearance for the Under-18s in September 2023, coming on as a substitute against Fulham.

He started his first game for the U18s against Brighton and Hove Albion a week later.

Walker-Smith made nine appearances in total for the under-18s this season, with five starts to his name.

Charlie Stevens (Bournemouth)

Was named in the Guardian's list of the 20 best Premier League young talents last year.

The attacking midfield has been with the Cherries since the age of eight, and is regarded as a player comfortable in possession, and capable of reading games to a high standard.

“He recognises space and has a knack of being able to find a pass,” says his under-18s manager, James Lowy. “He has that ability to be able to hold on to possession that fraction longer.”

Stevens joined the Cherries academy at under-8s level and has been with the club ever since. He would later go on to make his under-18s debut at the age of 15.

Stevens signed a first-year scholarship with the club in the summer of 2023.

Makenzie Bradbury (Wolves)

Captained Wales at under-16s level, and has enjoyed a rapid rise through the ranks at Wolverhampton Wanderers.

The midfielder started his first game for Wolves at under-21s level towards the end of 2022, having not long turned 15. He has also trained with the first team at Molineux, and there are high hopes about his potential for club and country.

Under-21s boss James Collins said: “To make an under-21 appearance against anyone at any level at 15 and 16 years of age is a real achievement and isn’t easy. I thought they played with courage, with bravery.

“Macca got on the ball and really wanted the ball. I thought he could’ve turned more and he did as the game wore on, as he grew in confidence."