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Friday, June 14, 2024

Five young players we can’t wait to watch at Euro 2024

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Euro 2024 is nearly here and this summer’s tournament is set to be brimming with young talent. Ahead of the tournament’s first fixture on June 14, we’ve picked out five young players we can’t wait to watch in action.

Florian Wirtz (Germany)

Germany will enter the tournament with optimism as hosts and boast some of the best u-21 players on show at Euro 2024. Jamal Musiala is arguably the jewel in the German crown, though Florian Wirtz can rival the Bayern Munich midfielder for that status.

The 21-year-old won the Bundesliga Player of the Season award in 2023-24 after a brilliant season for Bayer Leverkusen, with Wirtz scoring 11 times and providing 11 assists – each personal bests for a Bundesliga season – as Xabi Alonso’s side won a first-ever title without defeat.

He hit a hat-trick in the 5-0 win over Werder Bremen that sealed the Bundesliga for Leverkusen and has illuminated their double-winning season. Wirtz ended the campaign with 38 goals and assists in 49 appearances in all competitions and scored his first international goal against France – after just seven seconds – in March.

🇩🇪 Florian Wirtz (Bayer Leverkusen, 2023/24)
📊 vs Top 7 League U21 Midfielders

🥇 Most assists
🥇 Most key passes
🥇 Most xA
🥇 Most dribbles
🥇 Most shots
🥇 Most progressive passes
🥇 Most passes to penalty area
🥇 Most through passes
🥇 Most progressive runs
🥇 Most… pic.twitter.com/aZIWciNNhb

— DataMB (@DataMB_) May 28, 2024

That his performances have come on his return from an ACL injury make them all the more remarkable.

Lamine Yamal (Spain)

Lamine Yamal’s list of records just keeps getting longer. He is the youngest player and goalscorer for Barcelona and holds the same records for Spain. This summer, the 16-year-old will become the European Championship’s youngest-ever player, by a considerable distance, if he takes to the pitch in Germany.

Given an impressive start to his time with La Roja, which has seen Yamal score twice in six appearances to date, that looks likely. Barcelona will be keen to avoid the inevitable Lionel Messi comparisons but there are certainly similarities between the eight-time Ballon d’Or winner and Yamal, who drifts in off the right flank onto his stronger left foot, with a low centre of gravity and eye for a pass.

Lamine Yamal ✨#UCL pic.twitter.com/YodW1SumvP

— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) April 12, 2024

Barcelona have seen several players dubbed the next Messi (if there can even be considered such a thing) stall after bright starts but Yamal looks the real deal. He has the chance to prove that this summer in Spain colours. His potential is scary.

Arda Guler (Turkey)

After an injury-hit start to his time in Spanish football, Arda Guler certainly began to show what the initial hype was about during the run-in. The teenager became the fastest-ever player to reach six La Liga goals for Real Madrid, doing so in just 330 minutes of action.

Real Madrid have changed their recruit focus in recent seasons to emerging talent and Guler looks like another gem who is set for a bright future at the Bernabeu. The creative midfielder made his debut for Turkey at 17 and has won six caps for the national side to date, scoring his first goal against Wales in June 2023.

Arda Guler ends the season with more LaLiga goals than Lamine Yamal, despite playing 𝟭,𝟴𝟬𝟬 fewer minutes ⚽️⏱️😳 pic.twitter.com/LeigQZPYQZ

— LiveScore (@livescore) May 27, 2024

Turkey have disappointed in recent tournament appearances but have some real talent in their ranks this summer. With Inter Milan star Hakan Çalhanoğlu pulling the strings in midfield and Guler drifting between lines further forward, Vincenzo Montella’s men can reach the knockout rounds.

Kobbie Mainoo (England)

Is Kobbie Mainoo ready to start for England this summer? The evidence so far suggests so. Mainoo has taken everything in his stride during an effortless adaptation to the demands at Manchester United, with the teenager elegant in possession, unflustered, and an old head on young shoulders.

Mainoo ended his debut campaign with the winning goal in the FA Cup final win over Manchester City, capping a meteoric rise that has included an impressive full England debut in March.

Absolute CLASS from Kobbie Mainoo 🪄 pic.twitter.com/iIADHPFIYX

— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) April 7, 2024

Gareth Southgate’s lack of natural deep-lying midfielders could see Mainoo make the XI for England’s opening game against Serbia on June 16. The game appears to come easy to Mainoo, the hallmark of a top talent.

Xavi Simons (Netherlands)

It’s easy to forget that Xavi Simons is still just 21.

The midfielder appears to have been around forever, such was the hype around his name when emerging through Barcelona’s academy ranks. After a move to PSG failed to result in the first-team football he craved, a transfer to PSV Eindhoven saw him explode in 2022-23.

The Eredivisie’s leading scorer with 19 league goals, PSG activated their buy-back option on Simons before sending him on loan to RB Leipzig where the midfielder has gone from strength to strength. Simons scored 10 goals and provided 15 assists in all competitions, earning inclusion in the Bundesliga Team of the Season.

😮‍💨 @xavisimons is 𝑺𝑷𝑬𝑪𝑰𝑨𝑳 ✨ @Bundesliga_EN pic.twitter.com/jit5QBYM9J

— 433 (@433) January 24, 2024

Next on his planned ascent to the top will be a successful tournament with the Netherlands. He could be the spark that helps the Oranje progress from a tough group.

Read – Euro 2000 – Zidane’s zenith as France reign supreme

See more – Euro 2004: Five of the best players

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