Euro 2024 kicks off in four months’ time as Germany take on Scotland in Munich and the tournament will see an array of talent on display, many at the start of their careers. Here we look at 10 players in four different categories to follow ahead of the tournament.
Jude Bellingham (England, Real Madrid, midfielder, 20) They were scared at the time but Birmingham’s decision to retire the Bellingham shirt seems logical. What feels illogical is that the England midfielder is still only 20. How is it possible that he has already had three good seasons at Borussia Dortmund, and is now an instant hero at Real Madrid? The winning spirit and leadership qualities that Bellingham has shown in Spain have made him a superstar and he has scored 20 goals in all competitions at the time of writing. Will his impact be even greater than that of Harry Kane this summer?
Florian Wirtz (Germany, Bayer Leverkusen, midfielder, 20) The 20-year-old makes football look very simple. He reads the game better than most and has the technical qualities to make difficult passes – and do so with ease. Wirtz is the brightest star in the Bundesliga and learning from Xabi Alonso helps him improve. He has the most assists of any player in Europe’s top leagues at the time of writing: 15 in all competitions. Now it is up to Julian Nagelsmann to build the national team around him. Germany went out in the group stage at the 2022 World Cup, but Wirtz missed the tournament with a knee injury. Don’t bet against the hosts when he’s running the show.
Xavi Simons (Netherlands, RB Leipzig, attacking midfielder, 20) He grew up at La Masia, and his name is Xavi, but this one was born in Amsterdam. Simons is the perfect player to represent the Dutch-Catalan style, and the artist Johan Cruyff would love to see. He breathes Full Football, and it is almost impossible to define his position. Is he a player, a winger, a second striker, a midfielder? No one knows, because Simons runs around the field and makes things happen everywhere. Playing for RB Leipzig on loan from Paris Saint-Germain might not sound too romantic, but he’s a star who is easy to fall in love with nonetheless – even more so when he’s wearing the famous orange shirt . Simons could be central to this country during the summer.
Regular international games already
António Silva (Portugal, Benfica, center back, 20) “Ruben Dias is my role model,” said Silva on his promotion to Benfica’s senior squad in the summer of 2022. A few months later, after quickly cementing his place at Estádio da Luz, he was The centre-back is delighted to join Manchester City. star in the national team. He was a substitute during the 2022 World Cup, but his time is already here and the pair are set for a formidable partnership at Euro 2024. They have similar qualities, but that is hardly a problem as they are included leadership, calm under pressure, tactical. awareness and physical power of force. Silva is expected to be the next big move away from Benfica after the tournament.
Giorgio Scalvini (Italy, Atalanta, center back, 20) Giorgio Chiellini was one of Italy’s great heroes as they crowned European champions in 2021. He has now retired but a new goalkeeper named Giorgio could star in a blue jersey this summer. Scalvini is different – he’s taller, more elegant, and loves to get involved in the buildup play and then get involved in the attacking moves. That is how it has flourished at Atalanta for two seasons, and the Azzurri Coach Luciano Spalletti loves that kind of defender. Scalvini’s partnership with Internazionale’s Alessandro Bastoni could be exciting to watch in the summer, and Chiellini would be delighted to see it succeed.
Benjamin Sesko (Slovenia, RB Leipzig, forward, 20) Slovenia’s biggest stars of this century were goalkeepers: Samir Handanovic and Jan Oblak. In fact, football fans would be hard-pressed to name a striker who has come out of the country since the days of Zlatko Zahovic – now 53. But things are about to change with Sesko, who has the potential to develop into a world-class striker. He is extremely strong and powerful, knows how to position himself in the penalty area and has a killer instinct in front of goal. In short, Sesko is eastern Europe’s answer to Erling Haaland. Norway failed to qualify for Euro 2024 but Slovenia will be there after scoring five goals in the qualifiers and Sesko’s form for RB Leipzig suggests he feels at home in Germany.
On the brink of stardom
Warren Zaïre-Emery (France, PSG, midfielder, 17) France have a very deep squad and it remains to be seen whether Didier Deschamps will choose to play with the Paris Saint-Germain sensation, who will be 18 in March. However Zaïre-Emery is an automatic starter for Luis Enrique in Ligue 1 and the Champions League – and has already gained invaluable experience. It is fair to say that he is already quite a complete midfielder, not only technically and physically, but especially tactically. Strong in tackles, tidy in possession and a very effective passer, he likes to keep things simple – and has a keen eye for goal. Scoring on his international debut, albeit against Gibraltar, was a good sign and the youngster could star for France – but there is stiff competition.
Arthur Vermeeren (Belgium, Atlético Madrid, midfielder, 19) Compared to Andrés Iniesta and Andrea Pirlo in Belgium, Vermeeren is a very special player. His ability to find space and time in midfield is uncanny and he is a potential long-term successor to Kevin De Bruyne due to his passing ability. After bursting onto the scene midway through the 2022-23 season, the youngster played a vital role in Antwerp’s first title since 1957. After starring in the Champions League and scoring against Barcelona, he moved he to Atlético Madrid in January. Whether he gets enough playing time under Diego Simeone to secure a starting spot at Euro 2024 remains to be seen, but Vermeeren is certainly the most exciting performer of Belgium’s new generation – and the competition is quite strong.
Lamine Yamal (Spain, Barcelona, winger, 16) The youngest player and goalscorer in the history of Barcelona and Spain will celebrate his 17th birthday a day before the final of Euro 2024. Could he help the national team achieve that showpiece as a fitting present for himself? Such a script was surreal a few months ago, but perhaps not anymore as Yamal has developed into a leader at club level. His decision-making on the right wing and leadership qualities are impressive for a player of his age, and his energy and self-belief could enable him to fill the void left by the injured Gavi during the tournament.
Kenan Yildiz (Turkey, Juventus, forward, 18) Yildiz was disappointed to miss the European Under-17 Championship in 2022 through injury but Turkey already have high hopes for the senior tournament. The decision to leave Bayern Munich for the Juventus academy was a wise one when the versatile attacker burst onto the scene in Serie A in December, becoming one of the most exciting attackers in the league. Born and raised in Bavaria, Yildiz chose to represent his parents’ homeland, scoring his first senior goal in a 3-2 win over Germany in Berlin in November. He was friendly but should be ready to shine in a competitive environment in the country of his birth this summer.