UEFA Euro U19 Stars: Yusuf Demir – Player Analysis

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A rollercoaster of a year for Yusuf Demir can end with his head held high, after a tournament full of pride with Austria’s Under-19’s. Not reaching the semi-finals will feel like a major disappointment for Das Team, but the Wien local boy looks to have found the reinvigorating form that earned him a move to Barcelona at the start of last season. Things never quite panned out for Demir at Barca, and his contract was terminated after just six months. Since returning to Rapid, his performances have been up and down, but his evident technical quality still brings promise for what could become of the 19-year-old in the future. This Euros tournament has been all about regaining the confidence that sent Yusuf Demir to Camp Nou in the first place, and many top European sides will now be on red alert for his signature. Here is our analysis of Demir at this summer’s U19 European Championship.

Style of play

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Touted to be the ‘Austrian Messi’, Demir has had to cope with enormous expectations placed upon his shoulders. Able to play off the right, as a ‘number 10’ or even as a false-nine, you can certainly see the similarities to his Argentine idol. He’s one of the most talented 19 year-olds in the business, particularly with the ball at his feet, pinned down to his exemplary close control and uncanny fenagling out of tight spaces.

Coming from deep, the 5’8″ talent thrives when setting the tempo, often able to switch between hitting the opposition on the break and patiently keeping possession to build an attack. The next step for the playmaker will be to establish more confidence in his playing style, particularly in front of goal. If he backs himself in any 1v1 situation and understands the right pockets of space to pick up in the box, his goal contribution numbers will soon grow. Occasionally he opts for the safest option available, when he could instead be more expressive and showcase his superb technique. He’s played mostly off the right at the U19 Euros, where he can use his close control and terrific trickery to scare his opposition into abyss, before delivering passes into the penalty area. Capable of taking and scoring set-pieces, Demir even adds an extra cutting edge that most players could only dream of possessing. His teammates lavish his expert deliveries, such as Rapid Wien teammate Leopold Querfeld, who has managed two goals from Demir’s corners at the U19 Euros.

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Still only 19, Demir is however still more or less a lightweight player, not yet with the muscle mass to fully handle 1v1 situations against aggressive defenders who can match him toe for toe. The Austrian international will need to continue to learn how to use his body, and the strengths at his disposal to beat players with intelligence if not strength. This would not be the biggest of issues for a club like Barcelona, but an element of his game that would need to adapt if a move were to be made to another country.

In Possession

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On the ball, Yusuf Demir’s qualities are clear for all to see. A wand of a left foot causes unpredictability for defenders trying to contain him, and he’s competent enough to cut left or right, depending on the situation. From range, the Austrian can prove a capable scorer, and someone you don’t want to give time and space to let fly. He can play delicate through balls over the top for wide runners, take a shot on goal himself, or even exhibit his talents by driving at the opposition with quick enough feet and agile movement to weave his way around opposition defenders. The young magician also loves little give and go’s to breakthrough the opposition centrally. This has been emphasised in Austria’s Euro U19 campaign as they rank second for shots in the tournament through utilizing these vertical bounce passes. Most importantly, his technique is flawless. Combined with his exceptional control and speed to maintain the ball under pressure, the youngster has been compared to the likes of Ousmane Dembele, and even an all-time great in the form of Lionel Messi.

On technical quality alone, Demir beats all other Austrians at the tournament. But when you consider the value he holds for his team off the ball with his movement and positioning to pick up dangerous pockets of space, Demir is far from just a one trick pony.

When operating in a deeper role, often one that positions himself in the right half-space and sometimes in a vertical line with his own central-defenders, Yusuf enjoys building attacks from the middle third. He keeps the ball moving well through one-touch moves, keeping opposition defenders on their toes. He’s not a simple player to man-mark either, as he’s always looking for pockets of space to roam into and act as a drop-back for onrushing forwards like Onurhan Babuscu and Nikolas Veratschnig. He even coordinates nicely within Austria’s rotations, positioning himself wide, central or deep to match the movement of his mates.

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Sometimes though, the forward can play a little too safe and this looks to have been a consequence of his uninspiring move to Spain’s east coast. The loan move with an option to buy of £10 million looked to be of great value and the start of something special for ÖFB’s biggest talents, but the Barca hierarchy had their mind made up before Xavi entered the door, and they seem to have diminished some of the youngster’s confidence in the process. There are times where his ability on the ball could guide his side through the opposition and into a goalscoring opportunity all on its own, but instead he reverts to a simple pass back to the centre-backs. His lonely one goal and zero assists at club level this season is not enough to say he’s anywhere near ready for a big move just yet, nevertheless the technical ability and tactical awareness he possesses should take him far at a top European club.

Out of Possession

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Demir’s qualities on the ball largely make up for what he lacks defensively. Although he’s very energetic when closing down defenders, his strength and toughness in the tackle is rather weak and could be improved. You don’t want to take away his nimbleness by building up his physical strength, but enhancing his core stability and learning how to use his smaller frame to his advantage would compliment his ability to aggressively press from the front. The work rate is certainly there, but he lacks in application when it comes to winning the ball back for his team. When bypassed, he prefers to stay put and prepare to play on the front-foot in transition. This may be down to managerial preference, but it is an important note in his game nevertheless, suggesting a player that may work best when given the full freedom to express himself. It also means that he plays a pivotal role when the ball changes hands, involved in leading nearly every counter attack for his side. So on one hand the defensive side of Demir’s game can be considered a limitation. On the other, it can also be used to garner the best out of the young Austrian going forward.


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Having just moved back to Austria, staying in Wien for another wouldn’t be a terrible idea. Excelling in the Austrian Bundesliga would give the 19-year-old another change to improve upon his weaknesses, without the pressure of having them meticulously scrutinized by the media at the highest level. Next season will be his last as a teenager. After coming off the Euros in fantastic form, you can expect Demir to be handed more responsibility with Rapid Wien, and a free role within their 4-2-3-1 system.

Once establishing himself, travelling to the high-paced energy of the German Bundesliga may better suit his strengths, particular his ability to dominate 1v1 and isolate defenders in transition. An opportunity within a counter-attacking side like FC Köln would be intriguing to see. Following in the footsteps of his Austrian teammate Dejan Ljubičić, Demir could thrive at RheinEnergieStadion, bouncing off the exceptional timing of movement bursting through Anthony Modeste up top.

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Another move abroad could be the talent factory in Amsterdam with AFC Ajax, with their current right winger in Antony attracting attention from European elites. A slight step up from the Austrian Bundesliga, the Eredivisie still provides a chance for youngsters to thrive without the insane pressure of a team like Barcelona, where he can showcase his skills and improve upon the aspects of his game still lacking. The tactical side of his game would grow exponentially in the Netherlands, and he could learn from one of the best left-footed creators in the world – Dušan Tadić. As Ajax love to adapt players into new positions, we could even see Yusuf Demir’s game take off to new heights in a more withdrawn role. Adapting to a new country and language could prove difficult, but on paper, this would be a match made in heaven for the 19-year-old.


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Yusuf Demir is a real star in the making, and a young player ready for a starring role this season. As he loves to have the ball at his feet, it seems most sensible to leave Demir at Rapid Wien, and allow him to progress his game from here. Currently at a club he’s now settled into, it doesn’t seem viable sending him abroad for another perilous spell in one of Europe’s bigger leagues. With brilliance bursting through his boots and overwehlming agility, the youthful Rapidler looks set for a bright future, so long as he irons out his defensive issues and physical instabilities. Being able to play as a ‘9’, ’10’ or out wide will aid his transformation, and perhaps this season will be the year he deciphers his best between the three. In the meantime, Yusuf Demir can hold his head high, knowing that he caught the eye at this summer’s Euros and played a positive role in Austria’s performance.

So there it is! An analysis of our first UEFA Euro U19 Star: Yusuf Demir. Be sure to check out more Player Analyses, and follow on social media @mastermindsite to never miss an update. Thanks for reading and see you soon!

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