Euro 2020 will welcome the biggest names in football across the entire continent, and this year nations will rely on their younger stars more than ever. Players are said to come into their prime in their late 20s, but some of the best players in the world are bringing that notion into question, with Kylian Mbappe (22), Erling Haaland (20) and Trent Alexander-Arnold (22) considered amongst the world’s elite already. Euro 2016 was the first iteration of the tournament to recognise the achievements of younger players and the inaugural Young Player of the Tournament was won by Portugal’s Renato Sanches. It’s true that youngsters can drift in and out of games whilst they develop their skills and it’s always best to check what professionals at oddschecker predict ahead of big fixtures, but there’s little doubt that some of the talent at Euro 2020 will be exemplary in their performance.
Legendary former Liverpool defender Alan Hansen once infamously said ‘you can’t win anything with kids’, but the stage is set for this to be disproved at Euro 2020. Young Player of the Tournament award is presented to the best player in the tournament who is at most 22 years old and in this article, I’ll rate the strongest contenders for this year’s honour.
Portugal is among the favourites to become back-to-back winners of the UEFA European Championship after their 2016 triumph. Portugal have one of the deepest squads in terms of talent in the world with multiple household names in every position.
At 8/1, Atletico Madrid’s Joao Felix is a great bet to be crowned Young Player of the Tournament. An attacking midfielder with an abundance of talent, Felix is known for his creativity, dribbling and eye for goal. Felix will likely start for the current European Champions despite competition from the likes of Bruno Fernandes, Andre Gomes and Joao Moutinho in the central midfield spaces and he’s shown excellent form this season.
The 21-year-old will support one of the greatest forwards of all time in Cristiano Ronaldo so it’s likely the youngster will have more free space than he’s used to as Cristiano will demand the attention of defenders.
Felix’s form and endless potential has led to recent links with a move to FC Barcelona. The prodigy has lit up La Liga since his move to Madrid two seasons ago and an impressive performance at Euro 2020 would certainly put him in the shop window for the biggest clubs in the world to take note.
Since his controversial move from Manchester City to Borussia Dortmund, Jadon Sancho has gone from strength to strength. The £8 million Dortmund splashed on Sancho in 2017 seemed extortionate, but the rise of the England attacker has been staggering and he’s now linked with a move back to the Premier League for a fee more than 10 times that amount.
Sancho is a guaranteed starter for England and as joint favourites for the event, the 5/1 odds on him being named Young Player of the Tournament seem lofty. A master of the feint and with a bag full of tricks, Sancho has the potential to light up the tournament and cause defenders trouble.
Sancho was part of the illustrious England U17 squad which came runner up in the UEFA European Under-17 Championship and the Camberwell born winger will be hoping to go one better in the senior tournament.
In February, Sancho become the youngest player in Bundesliga history to reach 50 assists and the first to do it in less than 100 games. Supporting one of the best strikers in the world in Harry Kane, Sancho can provide key assists to the front man or provide the shot himself which makes him a real threat at the offensive end of the pitch.
Another Manchester City youth product with plenty of ability, Foden opted to stay at the Etihad and fight for playing time despite interest from other clubs.
Heralded by Pep Guardiola as the future of English football, Foden’s long been touted as the next star of the club and is already a world record holder. Under the stewardship of arguably the greatest manager of all time, Foden is developing into an elite player.
The youngest recipient of a Premier League winners’ medal, 20-year-old Foden has already amassed eight trophies with his club side and he’s becoming more influential with each passing season. This campaign has seen Foden establish himself in the Manchester City first XI and he’s being productive with the minutes he’s playing. The Stockport born midfielder has provided eight assists and seven goals in the Premier League which is more in those categories than he’d managed in the previous three seasons combined.
England manager Gareth Southgate has played Foden in three games in 2021 and it’s clear he trusts the Citizens player. There is competition for places in the England midfield and Foden’s versatility to play in the middle of the pitch or on the wing will guarantee him selection in the national squad, and likely a starting XI berth.
At 25/1 bookies don’t fancy the PSG striker to set the Euros alight, but this youngster certainly has the ability to dominate and step up on the big stage.
It’s been a rollercoaster of highs and lows in the relatively short career of Moise Kean, but the Italian goal scorer is certainly having his most productive season to date. Kean was struggling to play substantial minutes at Everton early in the season and as a result the club accepted a surprising loan bid from PSG for his services.
Kean’s move to the French champions has seen him link up with some of the best players in the world and that has escalated his own progression, racking up 12 goals in his opening 23 games for the club.
With two international goals to his name already, Kean will hope his excellent domestic performances will earn him a starting place in the Italian XI and that he can continue his ascent in the football world.
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