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Rediff.com  » Sports » Euro 24: Watch Out For These Youngsters!

Euro 24: Watch Out For These Youngsters!

By SHAILESH KARKERA
June 18, 2024 09:12 IST
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Euro 2024 is set to be a showcase for young talent, with several players across the continent poised to make a name for themselves on the international stage.

Here are 10 of the most exciting young stars to keep an eye on:

Kylian Mbappé (France, 25)

Kylian Mbappe

IMAGE: Kylian Mbappé heads into the Euros with momentum. Photograph: Dylan Martinez/Reuters

Arguably the biggest name at Euro 2024, Mbappe will lead France who have already been tipped by experts to win the competition. Mbappe is already a World Cup winner (Russia 2018) and Runner-up (Qatar 2022) and will be looking to add a Euro title to his already impressive collection of silverware.

His long-awaited move to Real Madrid has been dominating headlines all summer, but his immediate focus is leading France to victory at Euro 2024.

Didier Deschamps, the French manager, has full confidence in his young captain, praising Mbappé's leadership qualities.

After a stellar season with PSG (44 goals), Mbappé heads into the Euros with momentum. With Messi and Ronaldo nearing retirement, this tournament offers a golden opportunity for Mbappé to claim the mantle of the world's best.

Jude Bellingham (England, 20)

England

IMAGE: Jude Bellingham notched an impressive 23 goals across all competitions, showcasing his attacking prowess. Photograph: Paul Childs/Reuters

Fresh off a spectacular debut season with Real Madrid which concluded with the UEFA Champions League title and a strong case for the FIFA Ballon d'Or Award, Bellingham has announced himself as a key figure for England.

He notched an impressive 23 goals across all competitions, showcasing his attacking prowess and box-to-box dominance in the central midfield role. Manager Gareth Southgate acknowledges Bellingham's importance, but emphasises the team's collective strength.

Bellingham's leadership qualities and winning mentality have resonated with fans and teammates alike. He's become a hero at the Bernabéu despite his young age. England will be looking to leverage his talent and experience as they chase their first European title.

Pedri (Spain, 21)

Pedri

IMAGE: Pedri impressed at the 2020 Euros and the 2022 World Cup. Photograph: Albert Gea/Reuters

Despite injury struggles, Pedri arrives at Euro 2024 in top form, recently bagging his first international goals. Spain Manager Luis Enrique sees him as a potential game-changer, highlighting Pedri's limitless potential.

A key figure for Spain, Pedri impressed at the 2020 Euros and the 2022 World Cup. His achievements are even more remarkable considering his young age, evidenced by winning both the Golden Boy and Kopa Trophy awards in 2021.

Pedri overcame injuries to become a crucial part of Barcelona's La Liga title win in 2022/23.

His dedication and exceptional talent suggest a legendary career awaits him with both club and country. However, his immediate focus is leading Spain to Euros glory.

Josko Gvardiol (Croatia, 22)

Josko

A stand-out performer for Manchester City all season, Gvardiol is primarily a centre-back with an intelligent football brain and an eye for attacking. Equally adept as a left-back, he contributed 5 goals and 3 assists in all competitions.

This versatility extends to Croatia's national team, where he's expected to anchor the central defense alongside Luka Modric.

Gvardiol's talent presents a unique challenge for opponents. His defensive solidity is well-established, but his attacking threat adds another dimension.

With his adaptability and skill, Gvardiol is a key player for Croatia and could be a real difference-maker at Euro 2024.

Xavi Simons (Netherlands, 21)

Xavi Simsons

A product of Barcelona's La Masia Academy, Xavi is a rising star for The Netherlands. On loan at RB Leipzig from PSG, he impressed with his versatility and attacking prowess. Simons can play across the front line, contributing both goals (10) and assists (11) in the Bundesliga.

His ability to adapt to different positions embodies the 'Total Football' philosophy, a Dutch tactical system that emphasizes player interchangeability. This versatility makes him a valuable asset for Manager Ronald Koeman.

A strong Euros performance could solidify his place as a top talent and potentially spark a 'scramble for his services' among top clubs.

With his attacking flair and tactical intelligence, Simons is poised to make a significant impact for the Netherlands at Euro 2024.

Rasmus Højlund (Denmark, 21)

Rasmus Hojlund

After dominating the qualifying phase with a record-breaking seven goals for Denmark Højlund will be one of the key players to look out for the Euro '92 champions.

He ended the season with a flourish, scoring 10 goals in 16 Premier League appearances for Manchester United, winning the FA Cup at Wembley against arch-rivals Manchester City.

Højlund's work ethic extends beyond scoring. His tireless pressing disrupts opposing defences, a quality that will be crucial in Denmark's challenging Euro 2024 group alongside England (now without Harry Maguire), Slovenia, and Serbia.

Florian Wirtz (Germany, 21)

Florian Wirtz

Considered one of Germany's brightest young stars in recent years, Wirtz possesses a unique ability to control and dominate the midfield, a talent unmatched by many worldwide. His impact is crucial for Germany's dream of claiming the Euro trophy on home soil.

Under the guidance of Manager Xabi Alonso, Wirtz played a pivotal role in Bayer Leverkusen's historic unbeaten Bundesliga title run in 2023-2024. This talented midfielder showcased his exceptional playmaking skills, contributing a league-high 20 assists alongside 18 goals.

Due to Germany's Euro 2024 hosting rights, Wirtz hasn't faced competitive international competition since his 2022 injury. However, his recent form makes a strong case for his inclusion in Manager Julian Nagelsmann's starting line-up.

Whether deployed on the wing or in his preferred number 10 role, Wirtz's talent is undeniable and could be a game-changer for Germany's Euro 2024 campaign.

Arda Güler (Turkey, 19)

Ardaguler

After seven goals in the qualifying phase, Turkish star Güler is a talent on the rise, overcoming an injury-hit first season at Real Madrid. After a dazzling campaign at Fenerbahçe, where he inherited Mesut Özil's iconic number 10 jersey at just 17, Güler impressed with 10 goals in 16 La Liga appearances.

He is already a regular for the Turkish national team and teammate Jude Bellingham calls him a 'phenomenon'.

His versatility as an attacking midfielder or winger, coupled with a tireless work ethic, adds an extra dimension to his game. This skillset will be crucial for Turkey in their challenging Euro 2024 group stage.

Dušan Vlahović (Serbia, 24)

Dusan Vlahovic

Having featured in the 2022 World Cup, Vlahovićis one of the brightest prospects in Serbia's Euro 2024 line-up. His 12 goals in 24 appearances for his nation speak volumes about his ability to deliver on the big stage.

His well-rounded skillset, including strength, technique, and the ability to create space, makes him a valuable asset. His talent, experience, and leadership qualities position him to become a national legend.

João Neves (Portugal, 19)

Joao Neves

Although primarily a defensive midfielder, Neves has made appearances in various roles across the pitch, including in attacking midfield and out wide.

A large chunk of his minutes has come from a deeper, conducting role though, which better suits his play style. In Roger Schmidt's preferred 4-2-3-1 set-up, he often fills a role in one of the two defensive midfield slots.

Neves has already established himself as a key player for Portugal. He was instrumental in their successful Euro U21 qualifying campaign, racking up seven goals -- the most in the group. His performances earned him a call-up to the senior national team, where he looks to make a similar impact.

At just 19, Neves' future is bright. Expect him to play a significant role for Portugal in the tournament. His talent and potential make him a player to watch for years to come.

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SHAILESH KARKERA

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