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Football Features

Every Euro 2024 team’s most exciting wonderkid

By Harry Edwards

Published: 16:29, 10 June 2024 | Updated: 9:28, 12 June 2024

Euro 2024 is almost upon us.

There’s so much to look forward to at the tournament, and there will be a lot of stars on show. Of course, there are the big names such as Kylian Mbappe, Harry Kane and Robert Lewandowski.

But what of those younger stars? We’ve picked out one wonderkid — or at least a young player — for every team at Euro 2024 that we’re looking forward to watching in Germany.

Germany: Florian Wirtz

For young stars in the Germany squad it’s a toss up between Jamal Musiala and Florian Wirtz. You could easily pick either, but we’ve decided to focus on Wirtz ahead of the tournament.

It’s hard to believe that Wirtz has only just turned 21, making his Germany debut aged 18. He was one of the brightest young stars towards the end of 2021 but saw his progress halted by an ACL injury. But Wirtz is back on top form and was integral to Bayer Leverkusen winning the Bundesliga. The 21-year-old was one of just two players in the Bundesliga to have 10+ goals and 10+ assists this season, and was the first to hit the double-double.

 

Scotland: Tommy Conway

Scotland go to Euro 2024 with a more experienced squad, only having four players aged 25 or under. Tommy Conway is the youngest of the lot, and he only made his Scotland debut just a few days ago. Conway, who plies his trade for Bristol City, was a late addition to the Scotland squad due to injury. The teenager scored 10 g0als in the Championship, including five penalties, so could be an option from the spot.

Hungary: Krisztofer Horvath

There are a handful of young Hungarian players ready to make their mark at Euro 2024, including captain Dominik Szoboszlai who is still only 23. Milos Kerkez is the youngest in the squad aged 20, but 22-year-old Krisztofer Horvath is an interesting player.

Horvath has played just two games for Hungary, both substitute appearances last year, and he was an unused sub in their friendly defeat to Ireland. However, he has made the Hungary squad and has had a decent season for club Kecskemet. On loan from Torino, Horvath has scored 11 goals in 31 league games from an advanced midfield position, also adding six assists.

Switzerland: Zeki Amdouni

Like Scotland, Switzerland have more established players, but Zeki Amdouni is among the younger stars hoping to make a mark. It was a frustrating season for Burnley in the Premier League, but Amdouni stood out where he could.

The 23-year-old led all Burnley players for total shots (49), shots on target (22) and overall expected goals (5.82) in the Premier League this season.

Spain: Lamine Yamal

Perhaps the wonderkid above all wonderkids at Euro 2024, all eyes will be on Spain to see how Lamine Yamal does. The 16-year-old has already broken a host of records for club and country, including being the youngest player to represent and score for Spain.

Also this season, Yamal became the youngest person to play and assist in the knockout stages of the Champions League. He’s very much the future of Barcelona and Spain, and he doesn’t turn 17 until the eve of the Euro 2024 final.

 

Croatia: Luka Sucic

When Liverpool missed out on Jude Bellingham last summer, they were linked with a move for Luka Sucic as a potential replacement. The 21-year-old Croatian midfielder currently plies his trade with Red Bull Salzburg and cites Luka Modric has his footballing role model.

He has played just five times for Croatia and did miss the March international break through injury, but Sucic should be given a chance to shine at Euro 2024 especially with the expanded squads.

Italy: Riccardo Calafiori

Italy have a few young players making names for themselves across Europe, including Destiny Udogie and Giorgio Scalvini, both of whom miss Euro 2024 due to injury. But another young defender ready to make his mark is Riccardo Calafiori. The 22-year-old played 30 times for Bologna in Serie A and recorded five assists, while also making 74 clearances and winning possession 107 times in the defensive third.

Albania: Kristjan Asllani

Kristjan Asllani has lived in Italy since he was five and was eligible to represent the Azzurri but opted to stick with the nation of his birth, and parents. The 22-year-old is already a league winner, claiming the Serie A title with Inter Milan this season, averaging 0.23 assists per 90 minutes.

He has also played 20 games for Albania, sitting at the base of their midfield. Asllani has only missed three games since his first call up in 2022, starting 14 times.

Slovenia: Benjamin Sesko

Benjamin Sesko was tipped to be the next big thing as soon as he rose through the ranks at Red Bull Salzburg, following on from Erling Haaland. In total he scored 29 goals in 79 games for the Austrian side before making the switch to sister club RB Leipzig.

It’s been an encouraging first season in Germany, with Sesko scoring 14 goals in 31 Bundesliga matches, at the age of 20. He has also scored 11 goals in 29 caps for Slovenia, and is their youngest-ever goalscorer, netting just a few months after his 18th birthday.

Denmark: Rasmus Hojlund

Another young goalscorer, Rasmus Hojlund has had an interesting season with Manchester United, but it has been largely positive. Let’s not forget he is still only 21, scoring 15 goals across the Premier League and Champions League. After enduring a drought, Hojlund became the youngest player to score in six success Premier League appearances.

For Denmark, Hojlund’s record is very impressive. In just 12 appearances for his country, the striker has seven goals including a hat-trick in qualifying for Euro 2024.

Serbia: Lazar Samardzic

Lazar Samardzic represented Germany at youth level from under-16s to under-21s, having been born in Berlin. But last year he switched international allegiance to Serbia, playing seven times so far. The 22-year-old isn’t a regular starter for Serbia, but he will be hoping to become a bigger part of the national team at Euro 2024.

In his last appearance for Serbia, Samardzic started just behind Aleksandar Mitrovic in an attacking midfield role alongside Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, setting up the latter for the only goal of the game. In Serie A this season, the midfielder has scored six times for Udinese including goals against Napoli, Inter Milan and AC Milan.

England: Jude Bellingham

Kobbie Mainoo is an honourable mention, but Jude Bellingham will be the one to watch this summer. The 20-year-old had a wonderful first season at Real Madrid, winning the La Liga title and the Champions League. He was the man to step up in the early stages of the season as Real Madrid needed to replace Karim Benzema’s goals, scoring 10 goals in his first 10 league games. Injury and rest saw Bellingham end the league campaign with 19 goals, alongside six assists. Only three players were directly involved in more La Liga goals than Bellingham.

 

Poland: Kacper Urbanski

Kacper Kozlowski was one to keep an eye on for Poland’s Euro 2024 squad, to see if he would make it in. He didn’t, but 19-year-old Kacper Urbanski has been named in the 26-man squad. Urbanski played 22 times for Bologna in Serie A, starting nine of those appearances. The teenager played across the midfield, and could be a good utility man for Poland.

This is Urbanski’s first senior call up, having only made his under-21 debut in March, and he assisted in his first match against Ukraine.

Netherlands: Xavi Simons

Netherlands have a host of young players in their squad ready to lead them to the future, and the youngest star is Xavi Simons, who is thriving. The 21-year-old is the youngest Dutch player to score and assist in a Champions League game since Arjen Robben in November 2003, doing so in the group stage for RB Leipzig against Crvena zvezda earlier this season.

After struggling slightly at PSG, Simons has re-found his feet on loan with RB Leipzig, scoring eight goals and providing 11 assists in 32 Bundesliga matches this season. Only Alex Grimaldo (13) provided more assists in the Bundesliga this season than Simons, who also averaged 0.64 direct goal involvements per 90 minutes. A player who made his Netherlands debut at a World Cup, Simons has started 10 of his 13 appearances for the Oranje.

Austria: Leopold Querfeld

Austria are another currently building for the future with a generally younger squad, with Leopold Querfeld an interesting pick at centre-back. The 20-year-old made his debut in March, called up for the friendly double-header against Slovakia and Turkey by Ralf Rangnick.

Playing for Rapid Vienna in his native Austria, Querfeld is already a big part of the defence, missing just four league games due to injury and suspension.

France: Warren Zaire-Emery

If you asked 100 people to pick five young players to watch at Euro 2024, it’s likely that Warren Zaire-Emery would make at least 99 of the lists. He has made a spot in Paris Saint-Germain’s midfield his own at the age of 18, and is one of their standout players this season.

Zaire-Emery is the youngest French player to score in Champions League history, and played in all but one of PSG’s games in the competition this season.

“This guy is amazing. Amazing. He looks so strong mentally and physically, but he’s very good with the ball as well and he’s only, what, 17? Something like that,” Emmanuel Petit told Compare.bet of Zaire-Emery in March.

“When you look at him, you have the feeling that he’s been in the team for the last five years. He’s one of the leaders of the team. In some important games this season he was the best player on the pitch. He was an example to the rest of the team. He’s one of the best young prospects, actually, in the world.”

 

Belgium: Arthur Vermeeren

Arthur Vermeeren joined Atletico Madrid in the January transfer window but hasn’t played too much for the Spanish side yet. However, his performances for Royal Antwerp were enough to earn the move and a call up for Belgium last October.

The 19-year-old, who is the youngest Belgian player to score in the Champions League, has started three of his four appearances for Belgium. He’ll probably drop down to the bench with Kevin De Bruyne likely to start, but Vermeeren is a good option to have.

Slovakia: Leo Sauer

Leo Sauer joined Feyenoord from MSK Zilina last summer and has been splitting his playing time between the U21 team and the first squad. In his limited time on the pitch in the Eredivisie, Sauer has been directly involved in five goals in 275 minutes. Per 90 minutes, that works out to 1.63 goal involvements per 90, with two goals and three assists.

His performances, and promise, brought a contract extension at Feyenoord and a first call up for the Slovakian senior team in March.

Romania: Radu Dragusin

Radu Dragusin started the season with Genoa in Serie A but ended having made a big move to the Premier League and Tottenham. He did only play nine times for Tottenham, with four starts, but there is a lot of promise for the 22-year-old. He averaged 2.76 possessions won in the defensive third per 90 minutes in the Premier League, alongside 1.91 aerial duels won and 3.82 clearances.

He’s a regular starter for Romania and should be at Euro 2024, starting each of their past 14 games since the start of 2023.

Ukraine: Georhiy Sudakov

Despite being only 21, Georgiy Sudakov has racked up 16 caps for Ukraine since making his debut in May 2021. He’s part of a very young squad that will likely be playing without pressure, which can only be a good thing.

Plying his trade with Shakhtar Donetsk, Sudakov scored 10 goals across all competitions this season, including one in the Champions League against Barcelona.

Turkey: Arda Guler

Injuries have hampered Arda Guler at Real Madrid this season, but he has returned at the right time and is picking up form ahead of the Euros. The Turkish teenager scored six goals in his final seven league games for Real Madrid, only starting four of those matches.

Guler joined Real Madrid full of promise, as the brightest young star in Turkey and it’s so easy to see why. He has received six caps for the senior team so far, and that would be more were it not for injury.

Georgia: Georges Mikautadze

Georgia don’t have a standout wonderkid, but Georges Mikautadze is a younger player who looks ready to star. Of course, all the attention will be on the slightly younger Khvicha Kvaratskelia, but Mikautadze is a man in form.

The 23-year-old scored 10 goals for Metz in Ligue 1 since the beginning of March, with only four players netting more across Europe’s top five leagus. He sits level alongside Serhou Guirassy, Erling Haaland and Phil Foden, also adding in two assists.

Portugal: Joao Neves

Joao Neves is the next big midfielder at Benfica, linked with a move to Manchester United in the January transfer window.  The 19-year-old played 55 times across all competitions for Benfica this season, not missing a minute in the Champions League or Europa League, and playing in all-but one of their league matches.

Not shy in getting the ball, only Goncalo Inacio had more touches in the Primeira Liga this season than Neves’ 2,524 among players aged 23 or under. Only Inacio completed more passes than Neves’ 1,995 too.

Czech Republic: Matej Jurasek

Matej Jurasek has been more of a bench player than a starter for Slavia Prague this season, but he has suffered in injury to hamper his playing time. When on the pitch, though, Jurasek is a danger averaging 0.58 direct goal involvements per 90 minutes in the Czech top-flight.

Jurasek made his Czech Republic debut in March, coming off the bench in the 2-1 win over Armenia, playing through the middle. Versatile across the front line, Jurasek is an interesting prospect.