Here at Shoot!, we are always keeping an eye on the young superstars coming through the various youth systems around the country.
We want to keep you in the know with regard to some starlets that might well go and become some of the best footballers in the world.
Each week, we aim to feature some of brightest talent from around the country, and this week is no different.
We’ve documented the progress of Derby County’s Charles Vernam and Manchester United’s Angel Gomes in recent weeks but, this time, we are making our way to the capital to keep an eye on a Fulham wonder kid who is already being targeted by some of the biggest clubs in the country – Matt O’Riley…
Although he has yet to join the Fulham academy, 15-year-old O’Riley is being tipped to have a big future in the game.
And it’s not difficult to see why.
A midfielder who already ticks a lot of boxes, O’Riley has represented England at Under-16 level, having been named in the squad for the Tournoi International in France last year. He started their second group match against the Netherlands, a game the Three Lions drew 2-2.
Fulham club mate Ryan Sessegnon was one of the stars for England in that tournament, and the hierarchy at Craven Cottage will be hoping that O’Riley follows a similar path to that of his compatriot, given Sessegnon was just 16 when he made his professional debut for Fulham in August this year.
O’Riley’s talent is so evident that he plays for the Fulham Under-18’s side, alongside Sessegnon, and featured 11 times last season to help the Cottagers finish third in the South Division, behind only Chelsea and Reading.
In the final few games of the season, O’Riley got a regular spot in the team as one of two defensive midfielders – a role becoming increasingly important in modern-day football – and he even played in central defence on the odd occasion, proving his versatility in a draw at West Ham.
Not only is this a great sign that he can adapt to different positions, but it shows that the coaches, even at a very young age, trust him on the football pitch. That’s a great sign.
For both those roles, you need to be calm on the ball, be able to retain possession under pressure, and also link up play between the defenders and attackers – O’Riley is clearly adept at all that.
O’Riley’s performances against some of the most talented youth teams in the country have attracted interest from some of England’s biggest clubs.
Manchester City, Arsenal, and Liverpool.
All three are keeping an eye on O’Riley’s progress, hoping that he will follow a number of youngsters like Chris Smalling and Moussa Dembele to graduate from the Fulham academy.
Fulham have a history of producing some exciting talent, and O’Riley may be another to add to that impressive list.