The U-21 European Championships came to a halt this week with Germany beating Portugal on a 1-0 win. Now it’s time for the big boys to hit the stage, where many more U-21 players will be showcasing their talent. So ahead of the European Championships set to kick off this Friday, we take a look at six Under-21 players to watch at the tournament.
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Ferran Torres found minutes difficult to come by at Manchester City this season, but he likely won’t find them terribly difficult to come by for Spain this summer. The 21-year-old can play anywhere in attack, and may even be able to help fulfill Spain’s potential void up front. Expect Torres to nab a few goals at the very least, if not be one of the driving force’s for Spain’s run.
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Joao Felix is regarded as one of the brightest young talents of the game, and is coming off the back of a league title with Atletico Madrid. The problem for Felix, although not necessarily a problem for Portugal, is just how many other star-studded attackers they have at their disposal. But again, being a player that can play anywhere in the front-line or as a number ten should help Felix’s cause to start matches, and he looks set to link up with a variety of players known for scoring goals – Cristiano Ronaldo and Andre Silva to name a few.
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Owen Wijndal is only a recent addition to the Netherlands set-up having performed well for AZ Alkmaar throughout the 2020-21 season, but has instantly established himself in the group due to his composure in possession and superb concentration in defense. He may be edged out by Daley Blind if Frank de Boer utilizes a back-four, but in a back-three will likely be the undeniable left-wing-back in the team. Regardless of formation, Wijndal is expected to make an impression this summer and could be just a few good games away from a move to one of Europe’s elite.
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It’s crazy to think that Jadon Sancho is still only 21-years-old and has the pedigree and talent that he has. Sancho had a remarkable season for Dortmund, finishing with 8 goals and 11 assists in 26 matches. The Englishman’s talent and ability on the ball is incredible and Gareth Southgate will have a selection headache as to how to get the likes of Sancho, Foden and Grealish all in the same lineup. Being one of the very best wingers in the world for more than a few years now, the Dortmund man should be one of the first names on the team sheet for Southgate’s side. Unfortunately, it seems clear that he won’t be. Nonetheless, Jadon Sancho is one to watch at this tournament, and could provide a drastic cutting edge for The Three Lions if needed.
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Phil Foden had a fantastic season for Manchester City, easing the older, wiser Raheem Sterling out of the lineup, and picking up the PFA Young Player of the Year Award for himself. As the season went on and he continued to dazzle, Foden’s place in the starting eleven started to look more and more likely at this summer’s tournament. A looming question still remains about how to fit all of England’s star attackers into the same team, but many now think Foden should be one of the top choices above the pack. Even if he’s not starting, Foden’s twinkle toes and dazzling footwork are likely to be on full display this summer.
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Without Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Sweden will be clinging onto anyone they can to lead them past a tough group. That man could easily be Juventus midfielder Dejan Kulusevski, who’s coming off an excellent past couple of years in Serie A. The mobile midfielder can play either centrally or out wide, and his dynamism from back to front will be integral to driving Sweden up the field. Still only 21-years-old, Dejan Kulusevski has an excellent chance to shine at his first major tournament, and could be expected to fulfill a number of different roles for Janne Andersson’s team.
So there it is! Six Under-21 players to watch at this summer’s Euros! Who do you think is set to shine? Comment below or on social media @mastermindsite. Thanks for reading and see you soon!