Tactical Insights

Two Barcelona prodigies, a Man United transfer target and a Champions League winner with Real Madrid… the 10 teenage talents set to light up Euro 2024


  • Each team must name their squads for the European Championship on Friday 
  • The Young Player of the Tournament award is given to the brightest talents
  • Click here to follow Mail Sport’s Euro 2024 WhatsApp Channel for all the latest breaking news and updates from Germany 



One of the most exciting aspects of big tournaments such as the European Championship is the prospect of a new star introducing themselves to the world.

Since being introduced in 2016, the coveted Young Player of the Tournament award, awarded to the best player under the age of 21, has been won by Portugal’s Renato Sanches and Spain’s Pedri, both of whom were among the highest rated youth prospects at the time.

Despite struggling with injury, Pedri remains a highly rated player and has established himself as a regular at Barcelona. Now 26, Sanches plies his trade at Roma, but, similarly missed much of the 2023-24 season due to a persistent and reoccurring hamstring injury.

With 2024’s Young Player of the Tournament award up for grabs, plenty of suitors will be looking to make a name for themselves and add themselves to an already illustrious list. 

With the European Championship set to kick off next week, here are 10 teenage starlets you should be keeping an eye on in Germany.

Pedri was the breakout star of Euro 2020 and was named Young Player of the Tournament
Renato Sanches burst onto the scene at Euro 2016 when Portugal went all the way in France

 

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Pau Cubarsi, Spain, 17

A product of Barcelona’s legendary La Masia academy, centre back Cubarsi cracked the senior team for the first time in January at just 16 years of age, making his debut in a 3-1 Copa Del Rey win over Unionistas. 

He marked the occasion with his debut assist, teeing up Jules Kounde’s long range strike, and quickly broke into the first team, finishing the season with a run of 18 consecutive league starts. 

After making two appearances for Spain during the March international break gaining Champions League experience with Barcelona, do not be surprised to see Pau feature heavily for Spain at the Euros.

 

Lamine Yamal, Spain, 16

Cubarsi’s Barcelona team-mate Lamine Yamal is among the most promising youth prospects in Europe. 

Still just 16, he made 37 La Liga appearances this season, scoring five goals and creating a further eight. 

His talent was made clear via a trivela cross to tee up Raphina’s goal against PSG. While the goal proved to be little more than a consolation, it epitomized Yamal’s technique and confidence.

Barcelona starlet Pau Cubarsi has emerged as one of Europe’s brightest young defenders
Cubarsi’s team-mate Lamine Yamal is considered to be one of the future stars of the game

 

Arda Guler, Turkey, 19

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Since breaking out at Fenerbahce and making a £17m move to Real Madrid, the footballing world has not seen too much of Arda Guler thanks to a string of injuries which saw the midfielder sidelined for over 100 days. 

Since recovering, though, Guler has put up an astonishing six goals in just ten La Liga appearances, averaging one goal per 62 minutes played. 

His two Turkey appearances, which came in friendlies against Hungary and Austria, yielded little, but showed that he has the trust of manager Vincenzo Montella and point to likely minutes in Germany.

 

Kenan Yildiz, Turkey, 19

Quality strikers are highly sought after in the modern market, and Kenan Yildiz might be the next to enter the market. 

With just two Serie A goals in nine starts, there is plenty of room for development, but given his ability to play as a winger, striker, or No 10, Yildiz’s versatility promises big things are down the line.

Arda Guler’s start to his Real Madrid career was punctuated by injuries but he finished the season with a flourish
Fellow Turkey star Kenan Yildiz has made six appearances for his country, scoring one goal

 

Warren Zaire-Emery, France, 18

You think of PSG, and the immediate image is one of superstar upon superstar – to work your way into the starting XI at the age of 18 takes a special sort of player. 

But that’s exactly what Warren Zaire-Emery has done, starring with 43 appearances across all competitions in 2023-24 at the heart of one of Europe’s giants, contributing three goals and seven assists in the process. 

After scoring on his French debut last year, he has gone on to pick up two more caps, the most recent of which saw the midfielder earn another 26 minutes against Luxembourg in May. 

A regular role under Didier Deschamps at crunch time in the Euros could prove difficult given the absurd depth France can call on, although the boss has only named 25 players at the time of writing. 

As such there could well be a spot on the plane for the teenager – who has to first finish his school exams before potentially helping his side to European glory.

Warren Zaire-Emery has flourished at Paris Saint-Germain and could make the France squad

 

Gabriel Sigua, Georgia, 18

A product of Dinamo Tbilisi’s academy, Gabriel Sigua made a quiet move to FC Basel in July 2023, and since has become something of a jack of all trades, playing in a variety of midfield roles as well as across the front three. 

Spending most of his time in attacking midfield, Sigua’s game is developing quickly, finishing the Swiss Super League season with three goals in 17 appearances. 

He will likely pick up consistent minutes in Germany, and will relish the opportunity to train alongside Napoli’s Khvicha Kvaratskhelia. 

He has bounced between the first team and U21s since making his senior international debut in a 6-1 win over Mongolia.

 

Arthur Vermeeren, Belgium, 19

Vermeeren has impressed at Royal Antwerp since his 2022 debut before later earning a move to Atletico Madrid, where he has made just five appearances for a total of 160 minutes played. 

Before the move, though, the central midfielder featured heavily in Antwerp’s Champions League campaign, scoring against Barcelona and bagging a brace of assists against Shakhtar Donetsk. 

His lack of opportunities in Madrid have been put down to a need to adapt to the new league by coaches, though his potential has shone through in his limited cameos.

Arthur Vermeeren has only made limited cameos at Atletico Madrid after a January move but his huge potential his continued to shine through

 

Leo Sauer, Slovakia, 18

Born and raised in Bratislava, Leo Sauer is an exciting young winger with a bag of tricks. 

A tricky dribbler and strong passer, he has only seen limited minutes since moving to Feyenoord in 2023, but with two goals and four assists to his name in 13 Eredivisie appearances (none of which were starts), Sauer clearly has something about him. 

He is easily able to beat his man, pick a pass, and create chances, something which Slovakia manager Francesco Calzona will surely appreciate.

 

Kobbie Mainoo, England, 19

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Mainoo’s sensational debut season with the Manchester United first team has been among the most engaging storylines of the Premier League season. 

Since joining the club as a nine-year-old, Mainoo rose quickly through the ranks, breaking into the first team under Erik ten Hag and ultimately making 24 league appearances for the Red Devils before scoring the winning goal in the FA Cup Final.

He plays with tangible maturity, sitting deep in Ten Hag’s system to assist in defence, ball recovery, and transition. 

With the likes of Jude Bellingham and Declan Rice ahead of him, Mainoo will face stiff competition for minutes in Germany, but will have the potential to change the game should Gareth Southgate trust him.

Kobbie Mainoo’s absurd rise to prominence is set to continue this summer with England

 

Joao Neves, Portugal, 19

Since joining Benfica’s academy at twelve years old, Joao Neves has shot through the ranks, most recently breaking into the first team in January 2023, racking up 75 appearances since. 

Playing primarily as a deep lying midfielder, he is particularly physical for his size and exhibits an elite passing range, which is why the likes of Manchester United have had their interest in his services piqued. 

Given the glut of defensive midfielders in the Portugal squad, namely PSG’s Vitinha, Al-Hilal’s Ruben Neves, and Fulham’s Joao Palhinha, Neves will struggle for minutes, though he undoubtedly possesses the talent and experience to change a game when called upon.



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