Chelsea trio among 7 Brits in Best U21 XI from World Cup qualifying


After running through the European World Cup qualification best XI, we turn our attention to the U21 stars. England, Wales, Scotland and the Republic of Ireland are all represented in the side, as are Norway and Serbia, with stars from Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester City, Borussia Dortmund and Fiorentina all making the best rated team of those to have made five or more appearances in qualifying. 


Gavin Bazunu (Republic of Ireland) - 7.18 


Gavin Bazunu's Republic of Ireland debut ended in a 1-0 defeat to Luxembourg, but since that surprise loss, the teenage shotstopper has come on leaps and bounds. Of those to make five or more appearances in European World Cup qualifying, only Manuel Neuer (100%) and Yann Sommer (86.7%) had a better save success rate than the 19-year-old (85.7%) to feature between the sticks. 


Reece James (England) - 7.19 


The first of three England players, and first of three Chelsea youngsters, Reece James started just three of England's World Cup qualifiers, yet shone when called upon. Only two players made more assists than James (2) for Gareth Southgate's side, while only two Three Lions stars retuned a better pass success rate than James (93.7%) to help land a WhoScored rating of 7.19. 


Ethan Ampadu (Wales) - 7.07 


The first Chelsea loanee to make the grade, Wales only conceded six goals in the six games Ethan Ampadu started in World Cup qualifying. Ampadu missed the 1-1 draw with Belgium on Tuesday night due to suspension, but he's been a sturdy performer to call upon when needed, with 2.5 interceptions per game more than any other Wales player as Ampadu stars at the back with a WhoScored rating of 7.07. 


Strahinja Pavlovic (Serbia) - 6.94 


Serbia have two players in the U21 European World Cup qualifying XI, with Monaco's Strahinja Pavlovic partnering Ampadu in defence. The 20-year-old may be struggling for game time in France, yet started seven of Serbia's eight games and showed incredible positional awareness to help Serbia to Qatar 2022. Indeed, 2.6 interceptions per game ranked ninth in qualifying as Pavlovic returned a WhoScored rating of 6.94. 


Neco Williams (Wales) - 7.30 


Another struggling for game time at club level, Neco Williams was a key man for Wales as they not only finished second to Belgium in Group E, but were crucially seeded for the playoffs. Williams scored one and assisted another in a successful qualifying campaign for the Dragons, while commendable returns of 1.6 dribbles and 1.2 key passes per game contributed towards the 20-year-old's inclusion at left-back with a WhoScored rating of 7.30. 


Bukayo Saka (England) - 7.48 


It's an all-England right side in this XI as Bukayo Saka ended qualification strongly, scoring three times and registering one assist from his five outings. The versatile Arsenal star only started three times in qualifying, yet Saka did enough to warrant his place with a WhoScored rating of 7.48 as only Harry Kane (12) and Harry Maguire (4) scored more goals than the 20-year-old. 


Chelsea trio among 7 Brits in Best U21 XI from World Cup qualifying


Phil Foden (England) - 7.70 


The final England player in the side is Manchester City's Phil Foden, who earned a WhoScored rating of 7.70 in qualifying. Foden featured seven times for Gareth Southgate's side, starting six games, and his return of four assists was the fifth best in the European qualification stage. 18 successful dribbles was the third most of players aged 21 and under and contributed to the midfielder's inclusion in this side. 


Billy Gilmour (Scotland) - 7.03 


Another Chelsea loanee joins Foden in the middle of the park. Billy Gilmour has started four times for Scotland since he last featured for club side Norwich, but with a new man at the Carrow Road helm, he'll be confident of garnering more game time at club level. Only Eric Garcia (543) made more passes than Gilmour (426) of players aged 21 under in qualification to help the latter to a WhoScored rating of 7.03. 


Mikkel Damsgaard (Denmark) - 7.85 


The best rated player aged 21 and under, and 15th overall, Mikkel Damsgaard has enjoyed a superb 2021 and has gone some way to consolidating a spot in the Denmark national team for years to come. Like Foden, Damsgaard registered four assist in qualification, all the while netting twice, as two key passes and two dribbles per game saw him return a WhoScored rating of 7.85. 


Erling Haaland (Norway) - 7.33 


Football fans will not be treated to a World Cup with Erling Haaland as Norway failed to progress from Group G, finishing third behind the Netherlands and Turkey. Haaland scored five of Norway's 15 goals in qualification, while 5.7 shots per game was the fourth most as Haaland makes the side in attack with a WhoScored rating of 7.33. How different things could have been had he not sat out the international break due to injury... 


Dusan Vlahovic (Serbia) - 6.99 


It's an all-star front pairing in the U21 best XI as Dusan Vlahovic joins Haaland on the frontline. The 21-year-old hitman has stiff competition from Aleksandar Mitrovic to lead the Serbia attack, but Vlahovic impressed when given the chance to showcase his talent on the international stage, scoring four times to garner a WhoScored rating of 6.99.

Chelsea trio among 7 Brits in Best U21 XI from World Cup qualifying