With Italy meeting England in the final at Wembley, it’s about time that we take a look at some of the most exciting young players of Euro 2020.
International tournaments are notoriously hard for young players to play a big role at, since most managers opt to trust more experienced players over the young ones and rightfully so. But there are always exceptions. Youngsters who play with the maturity of a player at his prime and seize their chance whenever they are trusted to play. Today we’ll take a look at those players to find out who are the most exciting young players of Euro 2020.
Obviously there were many young players that were predicted to have an impact in Euro 2020 but as it is the case with many tournaments these things never pan out as people predict them to. For every Phil Foden, Ruben Dias or Jadon Sancho that were expected to perform well but didn’t, there were a Mike Damsgaard, Manuel Locatelli or Dani Olmi who did. So without further ado, let’s take a look at some of the
most exciting young players of Euro 2020
and see who they’re:
Since managers usually don’t trust the very young players all that much at tournaments such as Euro 2020, we had to dig deep to find the players that actually fit the bill for Euro 2020's best young players. But here are 8 players that we think deserve a mention:
may not have been on most people's predicated England squad for the Euros but the youngster was named in the final 26-man squad nonetheless. Saka who, despite his very young age, has extensive experience playing in several role ranging from a left back to a right winger, has always been a favorite of Gareth Southgate and Saka in turn has completely justified Southgate's trust in him by his performances, especially against Czech Republic in the final match of the group stage.
Bukayo Saka who is a product ofArsenal
's own Hale End academy, joined the ranks of the first team at the young age of 17 and actually became the first player born in the 21st century to make his Premier League debut when he did so against Fulham in 1 January of 2019. He has since made 88 senior appearances for Arsenal, scoring 11 goals and providing many assists. While Unai Emery utilized Saka in more of a defensive role as a wing-back, Arteta has moved him to more attacking roles where the 19-year old has been instrumental in most of the Arsenal's victories last season.
Perhaps the accountability that a wing-back role has instilled within him, makes Saka such a favorite of so many managers since the youngster never seems to stop trying and covers so much of the pitch in every match. His direct style of playing and his quality when he drives the ball forward and makes chances for his teammates is another reason why he is one of the 8 best young players at UEFA Euro 2020.
Despite many doubting him, Southgate has trusted Saka more than players like Foden, Rashford and Sancho and has given the youngster 3 starts in this tournament. His match against the Czech Republic showed what he was capable of and his assist in the semi-final against Denmark, took England to the final. The best thing about Saka though, is that this is just the start of his journey and he may even become one of England’s greatest players in the years to come if he keeps up improving like this. For now, he gets to be one of the
Euro 2020's top young talent
Sweden's Alexander Isak was the subject of many discussions and speculation before and during Euro 2020 on the count of his amazing performances both at the club level and international level. Isak's incredible performances at Real Sociedad alongside the likes of Mikel Oyarzabal, led the club to the rare occasion of winning the silverware when they were able to claim the 2019-20 Copa del Rey. This, alongside Isak's incredible record of scoring 17 goals in La Liga last year, made him Sweden's No. 1 hope in attack in Euro 2020 and although he didn't exactly deliver on scoring goals, he always seemed dangerous and provided a lot for Sweden, going forward.
Isak, who is youngest ever goal scorer Sweden national team, started his senior career pretty early as he was only 16 when he scored his first professional goal. Now at 21, he has had much experience after representing 4 clubs in 4 European leagues. He started his career playing for the local club AIK but soon caught three eye of European elites like Dortmund and Real Madrid but in the end he chose Dortmund over the Spanish giants.
Though his time at Dortmund didn't exactly pan out and he ended up moving to the Dutch side,Willem II
, on loan in 2018, in order to get playing time. He managed to score 14 goals in 18 appearances he made for the Eredvisie club before joiningReal Sociedad
permanently in the summer of 2019. Despite being tall (1.92m) Isak is mostly known for his incredible technique on the ball. He was able to hone his ball-carrying ability as well as his knack for scoring goals in his first season at Sociedad where he managed to score 17 goals in all competitions.
His 7 goals in Copa del Rey was instrumental in helping the club win the competition last year and his memorable performance against Real Madrid in the Copa where he scored 2 goals and provided an assist for another will surely go down in Sociedad's history. He will also be remembered as one of the most exciting young players of Euro 2020 for the unrelenting work-rate he provided in every match to take his country to the quarter-finals.
In an interview after Spain was knocked out by Italy in the semi-finals of Euro 2020, Luis Enrique claimed that he has never seen an 18 year-old play as well as Pedri has in the whole tournament and he even comparedPedri
to “Don Iniesta”. It might seem like Enrique was trying to sooth Pedri after their loss but what he said isn’t far from the truth. The Barcelona youngster plays with the maturity of a playmaker in his prime and has benched the likes of Thiago and Pedri to play every single minute of Spain’s Euro 2020 campaign, which undoubtedly makes him one of the 9 best young players at UEFA Euro 2020.
A product of Las Palmas academy, Pedri broke out into the first team in the 2019-20 season where he played almost the entire campaign despite only being 17 at the time. His excellent performances in the Segunda Division for Las Palmas were enough forBarcelona
to bring him to Nou Camp and unlike many of their recent signings, Pedri actually delivered. Pedri made 37 appearances for Barcelona in La Liga (52 in all competitions), pushing the likes of Coutinho and Miralem Pjanic out of the starting line-up for the entirety of the season. he even won the Copa del Rey in his debut season with Barcelona.
And if that all wasn’t enough for you to be convinced that Pedri is one of the most exciting young players of Euro 2020, his heavy involvement in every match ofSpain
’s impressive Euro 2020 campaign should do the trick. Although Pedri has got a long way to go to even come close to Iniesta’s levels, he is off to a great start and having a mentor like the great Lionel Messi will certainly make him a far better player!
It’s crazy to think of Gianluigi Donnarumma as a ‘young talent’ since the Italian shot-stopper has so much experience playing at highest level and yet, Donnarumma is only 22 and has a long way ahead of him. He certainly wishes to follow in the footsteps of his namesake and predecessor, Gianluigi Buffon, as would any decent goalkeeper and it seems that Donnarumma is off to a great start. The former AC Milan keeper may even end up being named the best goalkeeper of the Euro 2020.
As one of the better known players in our list of Euro 2020's top young talent, most football fans are aware ofDonnarumma
’s background. He broke into AC Milan’s first team back in 2015-16 season and soon became the youngest ever goalkeeper for both Ac Milan and Italy. He has since made 32 appearances for Italy and 251 appearances for AC Milan. Donnarumma also won Serie A’s Goalkeeper of the Season award twice consecutive in the past two seasons.
But his performances for Italy, especially in their 33-game unbeaten run is what makes him one of the
most exciting young players of Euro 2020
. Donnarumma’s towering presence inItaly
’s goal backed by one of the best defensive partnerships in the world in Chiellini and Bonucci, has made Italy’s defense impregnable and extremely tough to break down.
This alongside Italy’s potent attack and Roberto Mancini impeccable tactics has taken Italy all the way to the final in Wembley. No we have to see if Donnarumma could deliver in the final and win his first ever major trophy or not!
is another seriously talented Spanish youngster that already has titles under his belt. The Manchester City winger has had the pleasure of working with two of the greatest Spanish managers in Pep Guardiola and Luis Enrique and he has been favored by both over more established and experienced players, which tells you a lot about Ferran Torres’ abilities. In Enrique’s case, his trust was paid in full as Ferran Torres was one of the best Spanish players in the competition and certainly one of Euro 2020's top young talent.
The former Valencia academy player, broke out into Valencia’s first team back in the 2017-18 season and went on to become a prominent player for the Bats in the following 2 seasons. He even managed to win a Copa del Rey trophy with Valencia before moving on to Manchester City at the start of the 2020-21 season. despite limited game-time that saw him start only 24 matches for Manchester City, Torres managed to score 13 goals last season, which is 4 more than he ever scored for Valencia over 3 seasons. He was able to win the Premier League and League Cup in his debut season and reach the Champions League final.
Which convinced Luis Enrique to include him in his Euro 2020 squad. while his first two matches against Sweden and Poland were forgettable, Torres really came alive in the 3rd match against Slovakia, where he came on as a substitute to score a Rabah Madjer style goal and he followed that with a Man of the Match performance against Croatia in the round of 16 as he scored and assisted to help Spain knock out Croatia 5-3. All in all, 2 goals and an assist isn’t something to scuff at especially for someone as young as Torres in a major tournament. Which makes him one of the most exciting young players of Euro 2020.
Another one of Euro 2020's best young players is Spain and RB Leipzig's Dani Olmo. Capable of playing both as an attacking midfielder or a winger, Olmo joined Luis Enrique's squad after having an excellent year with RB Leipzig establishing himself as one of Bundesliga's promising young talents. What sets Olmo apart than many of his cohorts on this list is the fact that he is a proven winner, mostly because of his time at Dinamo Zagreb, and that is apparent in his playing style whenever he has been on the pitch in Euro 2020.
With Olmo on the pitch, Spain look a lot more dangerous as his direct style of playing and his flawless delivery creates many chances for the players in front of him which has led to some of the highest scoring matches in the competition so far.Olmo
may be only 23 but he plays like a player in his prime which may be due to the fact that he made a strange move early on his career that saw him move away from Barcelona's La Masia academy to join Croatia's Dinamo Zagreb when he was only 16.
The move saw Olmo win 5 Croatian League titles and 3 Cup trophies as well as numerous individual awards including the Best Player of the Season in Croatia and a Golden Boy nomination in 2018. So by the time he joined Leipzig in January of 2020, he was already an established winner. The presence of players like Olmo and Busquets have helped the somewhat inexperienced Spain squad immensely in Euro 2020.
Olmo is currently Spain’s top assist provider in Euro 2020 with 2 assists. With 2 key passes per game he is only behind Jordi Alba (2.2) in Spain’s squad despite playing almost half as much as he has. But perhaps his most important contribution to Spain’s campaign has been his two assists in the game against Croatia after he came on as a substitute. Whether Spain manages to make it into the final or not, it’s apparent that Olmo’s contribution to their campaign has been huge and he is certainly one of the
8 best young players at UEFA Euro 2020
Perhaps one of the prominent stars of Euro 2020 was Italy’s Manuel Locatelli, who surprised everyone with his performances after filling in for Verratti in the first few games. the Sassuolo midfielder has made quite a ruckus in the transfer market since the start of the tournament and rightfully so, as the 23 year-old is a genuine talent and a complete player which makes him one of the 8 best young players at UEFA Euro 2020 in our opinion.
With great technique, passing ability and excellent vision,Manuel Locatelli
could play as either a regista or a Mezalla which makes him the perfect player for Roberto Mancini’s tactics and it explains why the veteran manager likes him so much. But Locatelli’s career so far at the club level has been an interesting one because despite his obvious talent, he was never trusted by AC Milan, the club where he developed as a youth player, and had to eventually move out to Sassuolo in order to find game time.
But his excellent performances in the past 3 seasons with Sassuolo has made him a regular in Roberto Mancini’sItaly
. Locatelli has already racked up 14 caps, 4 of which has come in Euro 2020. His performance against Turkey was great but he produced a masterclass against Switzerland, scoring 2 goals and picking up the Man of the Match award. However, his game time has been somewhat limited after Marco Verratti has come back from his injury. Still there is no denying that Manuel Locatelli is one of the
most exciting young players of Euro 2020
and will have a bright future ahead of him.
Denmark has had one hell of a dramatic tournament in Euro 2020 and Mikkel Damsgaard has been a big part of that story. From the horrific Eriksen incident in the first game against Finland to their dramatic final day qualification through the group stage and Damsgaard emergence as one of the
Euro 2020's best young players
, this will surely be a tournament to remember for the Danes. Even though they were without their best player, Eriksen,
For the 21 year-oldDamsgaard
however, this breakthrough has been gradually happening in the past few years. The Sampdoria midfielder, started his career at Nordsjaelland in Denmark and made his mark in the 2019-20 season where 11 goals in 36 matches for the Danish side, which prompted the Serie A side Sampdoria to sign him at the start of the last season. since then he has scored 2 and assisted 4 for La Samp while going through a transition period.
Nevertheless, his performances at Serie A were impressive enough that Hjulmand included him in his Euro 2020 squad, despite Damsgaard having only 2 senior call-ups prior to the tournament. It was a risk that paid off for Hjumland as Damsgaard were Denmark’s standout player in Euro 2020. The youngster scored 2 of the most beautiful goals of the tournament, one from a long-range effort against Russia and another being the only free kick goal of the tournament in the semi-finals.
With 2 goals and an assist, Damsgaard may have been the perfect replacement for Eriksen and his emergence as one of the most exciting young players of Euro 2020 may be the only silver lining that came out of that unfortunate situation. An attacking midfielder that is surprisingly great at defensive contributions as well, Damsgaard will most likely be the topic of discussion in this transfer window and it’s safe to say that we’ll hear a lot more from this talented midfielder in the years to come.