The U21 European Championship kicks off in just five days and there is a whole host of international talent taking the stage for their countries. We take a look at some of the top players representing each side taking part.
Host nation Italy’s squad boasts the attacking talent of AC Milan’s Patrick Cutrone, Firoentina’s Federico Chiesa and Juventus’ Moise Kean. Those three are all worth keeping an eye on while Roma duo Nicolo Zaniolo and Lorenzo Pellegrini will run the midfield. This is a seriously talented squad.
One of the favourites for the competition, Spain have another crop of talented youngsters. Pablo Fornals could move to the Premier League with West Ham, while in Barcelona’s Carles Alena they have another talented ballplayer. Borja Mayoral of Levante will look to provide the goals.
Likely to be a difficult tournament for the outsiders who have no standout names. Dawid Kownacki who plays his club football for Fortuna Dusseldorf will provide an outlet up front and Leicester midfielder Bartosz Kapustka has 14 appearances for the Polish senior team in midfield. Meanwhile, goalkeeper Kamil Grabara is on the books at Liverpool.
Belgium are looking to follow up their talented senior side with a wave of young talent but they are not expected to qualify from this group. Isaac Mbenza played on loan at Huddersfield last season and even scored against Manchester United. Ciebe Schrijvers could make an impact with over 100 club games under his belt. 17-year-old Yari Verschaeren has also been included in the squad.
Germany will be there or thereabouts with this squad managed by Stefan Kuntz. Jonathan Tah will marshall the defence and Mahmoud Dahoud of Dortmund will run the midfield. Luca Waldschmidt is a forward with an eye for a goal and will be hoping to make a big impact in this competition. Amazingly only two players in their 23 man squad are under the age of 21.
Huddersfield’s giant central midfielder Phillip Billing will ring a bell for many Premier League fans whilst Jachim Anderson is a highly rated central defender at Sampdoria. Another Dortmund youngster Jacob Bruun Larsen will be hoping this is a breakthrough tournament for him on the wing.
Serbia’s squad is headlined by the new Real Madrid number nine, Luka Jovic. The £60m man has been included in this squad to gain competition experience and after his spectacular season for Frankfurt he could be in with a shout of the Golden Boot. Sasa Lukic will be the key figure in midfield and the experience of captain Vakasin Jovanovic at the back should serve them well.
No big names in this Austrian squad but there are some promising players. Hannes Wolf of RB Salzburg is a talented midfielder but Kevin Danso, is the standout. A solid central defender who is already a feature for the first team for club and country he is certainly one to keep an eye on.
Where to start with this England team. Packed full of talent but James Maddison looks to be the standout. Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Phil Foden and Mason Mount will all be worth watching and this looks to be an incredibly strong squad for Aidy Boothroyd to choose from.
Former Celtic forward Moussa Dembele will draw much of the limelight for this French squad but Houssem Aouar of Lyon is the real star of this side. There is another Celtic man in the squad, as Olivier Ntcham should play a big part in a side that could win the whole thing.
Leicester player Alex Pascanu will lead the side from the back whilst several of this squad including Dragos Nedelcu and Ianis Hagi play their club football in Romania and have represented the senior team. The one to watch out for is hotshot George Puscas who has scored 14 goals in 21 games at this level and is regularly hitting the net for club side Palermo.
Nickola Vlasic and Ivan Sunjic are key figures in the midfield but the star name in this squad comes in the form of Alen Halilovic. The former Barcelona man could not break through into the first team and is now on AC Milan’s books although he is yet to play a game for them. He will be one to keep an eye on this tournament as he looks to ignite his career.