Each international tournament always has one or two youngsters come to the fore, and that is likely to be the case at this summer’s Euro 2020, which gets underway this Friday evening.
We have chosen 10 of the top talents at the tournament, but we have opted for those that are not yet established, so this ruled out the likes of Jules Kounde and Phil Foden. We have also only chosen one player per nation.
Adam Hlozek (Czech Republic / Sparta Prague)
Date of birth: 25/7/2002. International caps: 3. Goals: 0.
Despite being just 18 years old, Hlozek scored 15 goals in 19 games for Sparta Prague and was the top scorer in the Czech top flight. He has half of Europe chasing his signature and is certainly one to watch.
Mykola Shaparenko (Ukraine/Dynamo Kyiv)
Date of birth: 4/10/1998. International caps: 12. Goals: 0.
The ‘Ukrainian Grealish’ contributed four goals and four assists as Mircea Lucescu’s side won the league and cup double. Shaparenko‘s style is not that of a typical Ukrainian player, as Ramon Catala, the director of Dynamo’s academy, told MARCA. “He’s not the typical Ukrainian player. He’s more Latin. He has imagination and he links up well [with his teammates]. He also works hard,” he said.
Jude Bellingham (England/Borussia Dortmund)
Date of birth: 29/6/2003. International caps: 4. Goals: 0.
England have a plethora of young talent at present, and the latest to be leaving his mark is Bellingham. The 17-year-old displayed his talent at Dortmund in his first season after joining for 25 million pounds from Birmingham City, as he scored four goals and provided four assists. “He’s a modern box-to-box midfielder. His leadership is impressive. He covers a lot of ground,” Aitor Karanka told us.
Giacomo Raspadori (Italy/Sassuolo)
Date of birth: 18/2/2000. International caps: 1. Goals: 0.
The young Sassuolo forward ended the 2020/21 season in red-hot form, scoring five goals and providing two assists in his final nine Serie A matches. Raspadori is not your typical No.9, as he drops between the lines and also drifts out to the wing. “He has extraordinary qualities. He’s different from [Andrea] Belotti and [Ciro] Immobile,” Italy boss Roberto Mancini said.
Ryan Gravenberch (Netherlands/Ajax)
Date of birth: 16/5/2002. International caps: 5. Goals: 1.
Having already made 61 first-team appearances for Ajax at the age of 19, Gravenberch has shown an ability to improve year on year and could now light up Euro 2020 for the Oranje. He ended last season with five goals and six assists, which has caught the attention of Europe’s biggest clubs. “I’m a kind of like a snake. Long, quite narrow and I slither all over the place. I can learn a lot from Paul Pogba,” Gravenberch admitted in 2018.
Sasa Kalajdzic (Austria/Stuttgart)
Date of birth: 7/7/1997. International caps: 7. Goals: 3.
The 23-year-old Stuttgart No.9 is the tallest outfield player at Euro 2020 at two metres tall. Despite his height, Kalajdzic is also very good with his feet, like Zinedine Zidane and Zlatan Ibrahimovic. After three injury-hit seasons, he exploded in the Bundesliga last season as he ended the campaign with 16 goals and six assists in 33 games.
Jeremy Doku (Belgium/Rennes)
Date of birth: 27-5-2002. International caps: 8. Goals: 2.
Belgium‘s riches in attack mean that Doku will have to make do with a bench role, but he could change games during this tournament. Rennes paid Anderlecht 26 million euros for him last summer and, although his numbers were nothing to shout about (two goals and three assists), he was only behind Neymar when it came to dribbles. Doku scored on his Belgium debut against Iceland.
Nuno Mendes (Portugal/Sporting CP)
Date of birth: 19/6/2002. International caps: 5. Goals: 0.
It will not be long before the 18-year-old left-back is a household name, following some stellar displays for Sporting CP since making his debut. Ruben Amorim also used him as a third centre-back at times, which further shows Mendes‘ versatility. There is a queue for his signature, with Manchester City and Real Madrid both interested. Mendes has a release clause of 70 million euros.
Jamal Musiala (Germany/Bayern)
Date of birth: 26/2/2003. International caps: 3. Goals: 0.
Germany fought off interest from England to secure Musiala at international level, following the playmaker’s breakthrough season with Bayern Munich, where he scored seven goals and provided one assist in 1,458 minutes on the pitch. “I have a heart that beats for Germany and one that beats for England. It wasn’t an easy decision, but I feel I’ve done the right thing,” he said. Musiala will be hoping to announce himself to the world at Euro 2020.
Date of birth: 25/11/2002. International caps: 4. Goals: 0.
The most familiar name in this list for fans of LaLiga Santander. Pedri came into the Barcelona team as an 18-year-old but was so comfortable that he played as if he was 10 years older. “I like Pedri‘s calmness, humility and balance,” said Spain boss Luis Enrique.
BONUS: Kacper Kozlowski (Poland / Pogon Szczecin)
Date of birth: 16/10/2003 International caps: 3. Goals: 0.
The youngest player at Euro 2020 could not be left off this list. Manchester United have already set their sights on Kozlowski, whose breakthrough has been meteoric after suffering a car accident in January 2020 that caused him to fracture three vertebrae and his pelvis and kept him out of action for half a year. “I can play as a defensive midfielder, but I think I can give more to the team in attack. I like to take risks in one-on-one situations, even one-on-two [situations, too],” said Kozlowski. He played 20 games last season, scoring one goal and providing three assists.