The competition pits some of the hottest talents in European football and that means plenty of fireworks on the pitch from future stars.
The UEFA U-21 EURO Championship will be hosted jointly by Hungary and Slovenia and is scheduled to begin on March 24, 2021. Spain comes into the tournament as the defending champions and also have the joint-most number of titles along with Italy (5).
The biennial tournament offers a great chance to witness loads of talent on show. Additionally, the players would see this as their chance to get heard and make a mark on the international stage. With the Euros coming up (having been postponed from last year), it also offers the perfect opportunity for these players to book a place in the senior squad and get a chance to prove their mettle on Europe’s biggest stage.
Today we will take a look at the 10 most promising youngsters to look out for in the U-21 European Championship.
10. Ibrahima Konate (France)
We start off with a player from the unending conveyor belt of talent that France possess, Ibrahima Konate. The Leipzig defender has become one of the most highly-rated young central defenders in Europe in his time with Die Roten Bullen.
The Frenchman who is of Malian descent has represented Les Bleus at multiple age group levels from U-16 to U-21 and possesses rich experience of playing at the top level. With Upamecano bound to leave in the summer to Bayern Munich, this tournament could be Konate’s chance to get a longer rope for both club and country in the future and he would be one among many France players who would be under the spotlight in the tournament.
9. Sandro Tonali (Italy)
The Brescia academy graduate has been likened to Andrea Pirlo and has been making the rounds in Italian football ever since starting for his youth club as a 17-year old. Tonali exhibits elegance, creativity, and also possesses great awareness and composure on the ball for a player of his age.
Now on loan at Milan, Tonali possesses experience of representing his country having played for the U-19 team and also featuring four times for the Azzurri senior team. He would be the player to dictate play for the Italian side and could be the beating heart of the tactics employed by them.
8. Francisco Trincao (Portugal)
We now move to Portugal who have Barcelona winger Francisco Trincao leading their attack. The winger who graduated from the youth academy of Braga has performed admirably this season. Trincao has contributed three goals and two assists in 35 games for the Blaugrana (all in La Liga) and has been a bright spark in Barcelona’s attack.
He has already represented Portugal’s senior team on six occasions and that will keep him in good stead. He will be expected to lead the attack for his team in a tough group against England, Croatia, and Switzerland.
7. Emile-Smith Rowe (England)
England boast plenty of talented players who will represent the Three Lions in U-21 Euros this year. One among them is Emile-Smith Rowe who’s taken to life at Arsenal like a duck to water.
The attacking midfielder has been a driving force in their attack earning plaudits for his pace, dribbling and his positional awareness. He has contributed four assists in 13 games in the Premier League for Arsenal this season and scored once and assisted twice in the Europa League as well. He will look to translate his good form and quality with the England national team and possesses experience of having represented England across all age levels from U-16 to U-21.
6. Jules Kounde (France)
France possesses one of the strongest squads in the U-21 Championship and one of their most important players would be Jules Kounde who has been an inextricable part of Sevilla’s lineup ever since his move to the club in 2019 and has racked up close to 150 professional appearances in club football.
Kounde combines defensive sturdiness with the consummate ability on the ball and has also stepped up to score goals when required for the club. The Frenchman shows a very matured head on the pitch and is being courted by top clubs like Manchester United and Real Madrid. He would like a top performance to get a move to a big club and also get a spot in the already burgeoning France senior squad for Euro 2021.
5. Riqui Puig (Spain)
The La Masia graduate is a talented youngster who showcases great commitment on the pitch and also has plenty of quality on the ball which is evident when he plays for Barcelona.
Puig is a player moulded in the ethos of tiki-taka and would be the link in the side. Puig also possesses an eye for goal which could double up Spain’s advantage in the final third and that makes him a player to look out for if Spain make it deep into the tournament.
4. Callum Hudson-Odoi (England)
Moving into the top half of our list, we have Chelsea’s young gun Callum Hudson-Odoi. Hudson-Odoi is another of the talented players that England have in their roster.
The 20-year old winger has faced an up-and-down time with his childhood club Chelsea but is slowly finding his feet in the team under new manager Thomas Tuchel. He has been excellent for Chelsea in their UEFA Champions League campaign scoring twice in six games.
If Hudson-Odoi showcases his experiences in senior football and hits anywhere near his top quality, then rest assured that all eyes are going to be on him in the U-21 Championship.
3. Odsonne Edouard (France)
Our second France player on the list is Odsonne Edouard who is fast becoming one of the hottest young strikers on the market in Europe.
Edouard has scored 83 goals in 161 games for Celtic and has taken his goalscoring numbers to even greater heights with France. Edouard has represented France in the U-17, U-18, U-19 and U-21 level and has aggregated 39 goals in 44 games for the various age groups for Les Bleus.
If Edouard continues his goalscoring form, then he is sure to set the tournament ablaze and also turn the heads of a lot of top clubs across Europe.
2. Eduardo Camavinga (France)
Another teenage sensation from France ready to take on the big stage is Eduardo Camavinga. The 18-year old Angolan who has opted to represent France is touted to be the next big thing coming out of the Les Bleus talent conveyor belt.
A lot has been spoken about Camavinga’s qualities and he has been likened to many of his peers including Paul Pogba. Camavinga has already notched up three appearances for the France senior national team and memorably scored on his debut. The Rennes youth product plays in a #10 role and has excelled at his parent club for whom he has already notched up more than 70 appearances in all competitions. His performances would be watched with great relish as talk surrounds a move to Real Madrid in the future.
1. Youssoufa Moukoko (Germany)
The youngest player on this list, Youssoufa Moukoko is the prodigal sensation ready to take Europe by storm. Moukoko has shown a voracious appetite for goals for Dortmund’s youth teams with his record for Dortmund reading a frankly ridiculous tally of 141 goals in 88 games for their various youth sides.
In doing so, he got the nod to be a part of the first team and has made history by being the youngest player to play, score (3 goals in 13 games), and start a game in the Bundesliga and the UEFA Youth League. He also became the youngest player to feature in and start a UEFA Champions League game in December last year.
The Cameroon-born teenager has represented Germany in the U-16 level scoring three goals in four games. His unstoppable goalscoring prowess is sure to make him a player to watch out for in the tournament and for years to come.