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8 Players Who Could Light Up The Under 21 European Championship

 8 Players Who Could Light Up The Under 21 European Championship

The Under 21 European Championship is a hotbed for the next generation of footballing talent waiting for a chance to explode into life.

You only have to look at the EURO Under-21 dream team UEFA put together in 2015 of players who starred in the tournament before going on to achieve great things in the game.

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Manuel Neuer, Branislav Ivanovic, Mats Hummels, Alessandro Nesta, Giorgio Chiellini, Frank Lampard, Xavi, Andrea Pirlo, Mesut Ozil, Francesco Totti and Raul.

More recently, the likes of Saul Niguez, Marco Asensio and Bruma have tore it up. So who will make their mark this year?

Ahead of England's first game on Tuesday night we take a look at the stars of the 2019 tournament in Italy.

Moise Kean (Italy)

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Starting with the main man for the host nation, Juventus striker Moise Kean became the first player born in 2000 to feature in Serie A when he came on in the 84th minute against Pescara in 2016.

After a loan spell at Hellas Verona, Kean got a run in the Bianconeri side last season and scored six goals in seven appearances as the Turin outfit secured an eighth consecutive Scudetto.

Image: PA
Image: PA

One of the most exciting wonderkids in world football, the 19-year old attracted headlines last season in April when he responded to racist abuse from Cagliari fans by scoring and directly celebrating in front of them.

Dani Ceballos (Spain)

Dani Ceballos has been here before. In the 2017 edition of the tournament in Poland the classy midfielder deservedly picked up the Golden Ball after a series of scintillating performances as La Roja lost out to Germany in the final.

He got a dream move to Real Madrid as a result but unfortunately it's not quite happened for him in the Spanish capital and he's not been able to establish himself as a first-team regular.

Image: PA
Image: PA

The 22-year old has played six times for the Spain national team but finds himself in the Under 21's once again, scoring a stunning strike in last night's 3-1 loss to Italy.

Luka Jovic (Serbia)

The second Real Madrid player on the list after recently completing a £62 million switch to the Bernabeu, Luka Jovic is one of the most deadly strikers around.

Still only 21, he scored 27 goals in all competitions for Eintracht Frankfurt - notching 10 in Frankfurt's stunning run to the Europa League semi-finals.

Jovic had been the subject of interest from a whole host of leading European giants such as Manchester United, Manchester City, PSG and Barcelona but will now battle with Karim Benzema for the central striker berth at Real.

Image: PA
Image: PA

Real did exceptionally well to secure his services prior to this tournament as value could well have skyrocketed.

Houssem Aouar (France)

At the start of 2018, UEFA compiled a list of the 50 young players to keep an eye out for and Lyon's midfield metronome Houssem Aouar made the cut.

And he lived up the hype. Wearing the No.8 worn by Lyon magician Juninho, Auour produced two seriously impressive performances in Champions League group stage games against Manchester City and drew high praise from Pep Guardiola, who called him an "incredible" player with "excellent technical quality".

The 20-year old is surely on the cusp of a big move, with Liverpool said to be keen.

Phil Foden (England)

Phil Foden was the star of the show as Steve Cooper's England Under 17 side won the World Cup in 2017, scoring twice in the final and winning the Player of the Tournament as well as the BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year for his contributions.

Now, after making 36 appearances and scoring seven goals for Manchester City, the 19-year old pint-sized Stockport midfielder is looking to make his mark on another international youth tournament.

Image: PA
Image: PA

What he lacks in size and stature he more than makes up for with his quality and intelligence on the ball and having been given the iconic No.10 shirt for the tournament, Foden will be key to England's chances.

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Jonathan Tah (Germany)

Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels have both progressed from playing in the Under 21 Euros to turning out on the biggest stage for Germany and Jonathan Tah, Bayer Leverkusen's man mountain of a centre-back has been tipped to follow suit.

Image: PA
Image: PA

The 23-year old has six caps for Germany as well as over 100 Bundesliga appearances to his name. He played all 90 minutes for the German first team in the 2-0 win over Belarus and is the captain for Stefan Kuntz's side during this tournament.

Ianis Hagi (Romania)

With his dad being the one and only Gheorghe Hagi, "The Maradona of the Carpathians", Romania's joint top scorer and one of the best players of his generation, football was well and truly in the blood of Ianis Hagi.

The 20-year old, previously on the nominees list for the Golden Boy award on two occasions, scored 14 goals for his old man's side Vitorul Constanța last season and has the likes of Ajax, Sevilla, Hoffenheim and Arsenal interest.

Domagoj Bradaric (Croatia)

The 19-year old left-back has only played 22 times for Hajduk Split but he is now the club's vice-captain and was named in the Croatian league Team of the Season last term.

Barcelona and Ajax are said to be keeping close tabs on his progress and further interest could well arrive after this tournament is over and done with.

Topics: Phil Foden, Football News, European Championship, Football, Luka Jović, England, Moise Kean, Spain, Italy, Dani Ceballos

Josh Lawless

Josh is a writer who specialises in football and wrestling. He has been published by Curzon Ashton FC, Late Tackle, Manchester City FC, The Mirror, Read Man City and Manchester Evening News. He provides coverage of professional wrestling and has interviewed some of the biggest names in the field - including the first UK interview with The Hardy Boyz after their return to WWE. He has never sported a pair of Lonsdale Slip-ons, contrary to reports.

 

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