Top 5 Youngsters to watch at EURO 2024
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Top 5 Youngsters to watch at EURO 2024

11/06/24 16:51

Euro 2024 is just around the corner and fans from across Europe will be tuning in with hopes that their nation will reign supreme come the tournament's conclusion.

With stars like Cristiano Ronaldo, Luka Modric, N’Golo Kante and Manuel Neuer seemingly coming to the end of their international careers.

We take a look at the next generation of talents and who to keep an eye on during Euro 2024.

1. Adam Wharton - England (20 years-old)

Adam Wharton is a name that has become familiar with fans of the Premier League and England.

Having been at boyhood club Blackburn Rovers since the age of six, Wharton made his debut for the Riversiders in August 2022 against Hartlepool United in the EFL Cup.

The midfielder would go from strength to strength following his debut making 51 appearances for Blackburn, scoring four goals before securing a move to Premier League side Crystal Palace in February 2024.

Known for his intelligence and work rate in the heart of midfield, Wharton has managed to adapt to life in the Premier League with ease. Receiving a call-up to the senior team five months after his move to South London.

"He seems to have taken everything in his stride when you think of what the last year has been.

"That ability to receive and see a picture early isn't something you should underestimate." Said England manager, Gareth Southgate following the youngsters national team debut.

2. Arda Guler - Türkiye (19 years-old)

Making his professional debut for one of the biggest clubs in Türkiye at 16 years-old to signing for Real Madrid just two years later.

Arda Guler has had a career trajectory that many wish for. The 19 year-old attacker has been viewed by many as a wonderkid before he had even stepped onto a pitch professionally.

Guler became the youngest goalscorer in Fenerbahce history at the age of 16 when the team travelled to Alanyaspor in March 2022 and has only continued to impress.

After 51 appearances and nine goals in two seasons with Fenerbahce - which included lifting the Turkish Cup in 22/23. Many European giants were looking to secure the services of the ‘Turkish Messi.’

Real Madrid would complete the signing of Güler in July 2023 for €17.5m over rivals Barcelona.

The Türkiye international would have to wait until January 2024 to make his debut for Los Blancos following a string of injuries over the season but would finish with six goals in 12 appearances - winning the UEFA Champions League, La Liga and Supercopa de España.

He would become the first Turkish player to win the Champions League.

Guler is viewed as a creative and entertaining player, who has the ability to create chances for himself or teammates from anywhere on the pitch.

“He is a special talent, a great footballer and, above all, a very good person. The point he's reached doesn't surprise me at all.

“He can contribute in many positions and let me say this: whether he plays close to goal or far away, he will be in the right place at the right time to score and assist." Stated Lille midfielder Yusuf Yazıcı.

3. Aleksandar Pavlović - Germany (20 years-old)

With only 19 Bundesliga appearances to his name many will be surprised to see Aleksandar Pavlović included in Julian Nagelsmann’s squad for Euro 2024.

The 20 year-old midfielder has climbed through the ranks at Bayern Munich, impressing then-manager Thomas Tuchel in quick fashion.

When discussing Bayern Munich’s plans to add to the defensive midfield position ahead of the 23/24 season, Thomas Tuchel stated “We'll have to see, we still have a few days. Perhaps we'll do something.

“And if we don't, then we have Aleks from our U23s."

Pavlović has been compared to former Bayern midfielder Javi Martinez due to his ability to cover ground, aggressive tackles and eye for a pass.

Pavlović made his debut for the German national team as a substitute against Ukraine on 3rd June 2024.

“Aleks Pavlović is a technically gifted midfielder with very good vision. Furthermore, he’s incredibly eager to learn, ambitious and determined in terms of his goals.” Said Bayern sporting director Christoph Freund.

4. Xavi Simons - Netherlands (21 years-old)

La Masia product Xavi Simons has been a viral sensation from the age of 12.

Simons was viewed as one of the most highly-rated players to come out of Barcelona’s pristine academy with clubs such as Chelsea looking to sign the attacking midfielder.

However, Simons would never get the chance to play for Barca having failed to agree on a new contract with the club before completing a move to French side Paris Saint-Germain in 2019.

Despite the hype around Simons’ name, he would only make 11 appearances for PSG in two seasons, failing to score a single goal.

Many doubters wondered whether the move to France was beneficial for the youngsters career and whether he would become the player people thought he could be.

That’s when a move back to his home country silenced the critics, as Simons completed a €6m move to Eredivisie side PSV in June 2022.

Simons would light it up for PSV scoring 22 goals in 48 appearances, helping Ruud van Nistelrooy’s side win the KNVB Cup and Joann Cruyff Shield.

Simons would also win the Eredivisie Golden Boot with 19 goals in 34 appearances.

With his career now back on track, Simons was rewarded with his international debut at the 2022 World Cup in a 3-1 win against the United States.

A successful season saw Simons once again on the move, as he returned to PSG due to a buy-back clause inserted in the deal with PSV. Before being loaned out once again, this time to Bundesliga side RB Leipzig.

Simons would continue his fine form from the season prior registering eight goals and 11 assists in 32 Bundesliga appearances - finishing joint-second for most assists in the league.

5. Lamine Yamal - Spain (16 years-old)

You can’t have a list discussing youngsters without mentioning Lamine Yamal.

The 16 year-old winger has been a revelation for Barcelona this season registering five goals and seven assists in 50 appearances.

Yamal began training with the Barcelona first team at just 15 years-old before making his debut in April 2023 becoming the fifth youngest player to appear in a La Liga match and the youngest to appear in a match for Barcelona since 1922 at the age of 15 years, 9 months and 16 days old.

Yamal has been compared to Barcelona greats Lionel Messi and Ronaldinho for his dribbling skill set and willingness to take on players down the right wing.

According to Squawka, Yamal registered 128 attempted take-ons and 70 completed take-ons, putting him inside La Liga’s top five performers for both metrics for the 23/24 season.

He also created the sixth-most big chances in Spain’s top flight (13) and registered five league assists.

“He is a player that can mark an era in football, especially at Barcelona. Hopefully we can always enjoy him at this level” said Xavi.

Yamal was handed his first senior international call-up in September 2023 by Luis de la Fuente.

It wouldn’t take long for Barcelona’s prodigy to make an impact on the international stage, scoring on his debut in a 7-1 win against Georgia - becoming the youngest player to score for Spain at 16 years and 57 days old.

He would also become the youngest player to score in a Euro qualifying match, breaking Gareth Bale’s record of 17 years and 83 days old.

Honourable mentions go to England’s Kobbie Mainoo, France’s Warren Zaïre-Emery and Portugal’s Joao Neves.

With so much talent on display during Euro 2024, it’s safe to say that the future generation is in safe hands.

Benji Kosartiyer
Journalist
Reece Coughlan

Writer

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