The European showpiece is upon us. Supporters around the world will be hoping for a flurry of goals and no end of drama (hopefully not from the referees) as the cream of the continent descend on France over the next five weeks.
While the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Wayne Rooney, Cristiano Ronaldo and Bastian Schweinsteiger approach what may be their last European Championship, other players enter the competition for the first time, fresh and raring to impress.
National aspirations aside, these 10 players will be hoping to showcase their undoubted talents and make a mark on the biggest of European stages.
Euro 2016: Top 10 youngsters to watch out for in France
Schalke & Germany
The latest of Germany’s string of promising youngsters. After eight goals and six assists in 33 Bundesliga matches, the speedy winger has impressed for the national team. Chelsea, Manchester United and Liverpool are all closely monitoring the teen, who could be the world champions’ secret weapon.
Benfica & Portugal
The flamboyant teen has already earned himself a multi-million-pound switch to a European giant – joining Bayern Munich after the finals. Has got compatriots excited with Cristiano Ronaldo the wrong side of 30 and impressed against England earlier this month.
Basle & Switzerland
The Swiss have a young, vibrant squad and the forward will hope to follow compatriot Granit Xhaka in securing a big-money move to a European heavyweight. Scored 10 goals in 27 league appearances this season and the pacy frontman is in prime position to explode onto the European scene.
Bayer Leverkusen & Turkey
Already familiar to English crowds with his goal against England last month and a danger from dead-balls. Caught the eye with fine goals against Borussia Dortmund, Schalke, and Wolfsburg and a good tournament for the fleet-footed midfielder could alert a number of the European big guns, with Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp a known admirer.
Manchester United & England
Has enjoyed a whirlwind four months since his goalscoring debut for the Old Trafford side in the Europa League. With similar debut goals in the Premier League and for England, the 18-year-old rode the crest of a wave and continued his fairytale 2016 by winning a place in Roy Hodgson’s squad. Unlikely to start the opening game, but can not be written off given his script thus far.
Bayer Leverkusen & Croatia
After struggling to make a mark at Roma, Jedvaj secured a £5m move to Leverkusen. That has proven a bargain with the youngster impressing and tipped to displace either Vedran Ćorluka or Gordon Schildenfeld and make an impact in France.
Manchester City & Belgium
A successful loan spell at Galatasaray helped the Man City defender’s stock rise considerably. Will be hoping to fill the gap left by the injured Vincent Kompany.
Standing 6’1 and not one to shy away from a challenge, he could establish himself in the national side and impress incoming club manager Pep Guardiola.
CSKA Moscow & Russia
Ranked highly in his homeland having enjoyed a superb run for both club and country. Impressed in various age classes and his call-up to the senior team was not unexpected. Now in the final year of his contract, a strong showing at the Euro’s will attract suitors.
Lyons & France
Raphael Varane’s withdrawal from the national team might just hand Umtiti his big chance. Has impressed at the back for Lyons, capable of reading the game and making well-timed tackles. Potentially partnered alongside Laurent Koscielny at the finals, with Barcelona and Tottenham among the sides monitoring his success over the next month.
Ajax & Poland
After an impressive loan at Ajax, the Dutch side were impressed enough to part with £2m for the striker. Found the net an impressive 21 times in 31 Eredivisie matches, and has 10 in 25 caps for the Poles. Should he carry over his scoring form into the Euro’s, Ajax may find themselves fending off enquiries.
As seen with James Rodriguez’s multi-million move to Real Madrid after an impressive World Cup finals two summers ago – and also Andrei Arshavin’s move to Arsenal shortly after his exploits with Russia at Euro 2008, a big tournament showing brings with it interest from Europe’s elite – and sometimes a transfer fee to match.
From Turkey to Croatia, Belgium to Poland, these future stars arrive in France ready to show their worth.
What do you think? Are any of these stars overrated? Who have we missed out? Let us know in the comments section below.
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