With the Euros right around the corner and the transfer market about to enter full swing, every football fan around the world all of the sudden considers themselves to be a top level scout. I, of course, am no different. So here are my top young players to look out for in Euro 2016.
Firstly there are your players from the lesser known nations. More people may have heard of Iceland’s Arnor Ingvi Traustaston if he had an easier name, and with three goals in his six international appearances so far, he’s not only one to watch for the tournament, but in the transfer market as well.
Alongside him in the perhaps lesser known category is Poland’s Arkadiusz Milik who has quietly gone about establishing himself as Robert Lewandowski’s perfect partner in attack, with an incredible record of 10 goals in 24 games for his country at just 22 years old.
Belgium have a team that is frankly spoilt with talent. They are currently enjoying their ‘golden generation’ and it doesn’t look set to end any time soon with an abundance of youth as well as talent in the side. Everyone knows about Romelu Lukaku’s impact on the Premier League – but somehow Champions League Final goal scorer Yannick Ferreira-Carrasco has gone seemingly unnoticed – only recently making his bow for the national side at 22. Still, it was enough for him to win the heart of Miss Belgium so I’m sure he doesn’t mind too much.
Many top clubs around Europe will be aware of Swiss striker Breel-Donald Embolo, who despite being just 19 years old, has been the focal point of the FC Basel attack for the last two seasons. The Euros will be a big opportunity for Embolo to step up to the next level and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him make a big money move by the end of the summer.
Two players who already have their big move despite not yet reaching their twentieth birthday are Portugal’s Renato Sanches and France’s Kingsley Coman, who are both looking to establish themselves as Bayern Munich regulars under Carlo Ancelotti next season. Sanches made himself the linchpin of a talented Benfica midfield despite being just 18 years old, and Coman has won the Serie A, Ligue 1 and Bundesliga at 19. Now both players are set to make an impact for their respective nations, with a starting berth looking entirely possible for the teenagers.
And finally, a man whose impact on the Premier League this year won him the PFA young player of the year – Dele Alli. The product of the MK Dons youth academy had an incredible first year in the Premier League becoming a key member of the Spurs side that mounted the only real challenge to Leicester until they… well… until they did a Spurs. Alli has also made his presence felt on the England team, however, and is many people’s first choice midfielder for the tournament. Still young enough to be fearless but at times talented enough to seem like he’s been playing for 10 years, Alli is the spark that England have so desperately needed since Rooney exploded on to the international stage 12 years ago.
However, there is still time for all of the above to break a metatarsal, so let’s not get too excited yet.