Youth is associated with creativity and adventure. This aspect has come to enrich football over the years. Euro 2020 is no exception as a lot of nations will be banking on the young talent more than ever. Looking to infuse more dynamism in the sport, the European Championship has introduced the Young Player of the Tournament award since 2016. The inaugural honour went to Portugal’s Renato Sanches. Here is a look at some names that would be competing for the honour in the upcoming edition of Euro 2020.
Joao Felix (Portugal)
An attacking midfielder with a lot of talent, Felix is a key name in the Portugal squad. He has already proved himself, playing in an attacking position in Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid that went on to lift the La Liga title. The 21-year-old, named the La Liga’s player of the month for November 2020, is likely to play in tandem with one of the greatest forwards of all time, Cristiano Ronaldo, in a Portugal team that boasts of a host of stars. Holder Portugal is placed in what is arguably the toughest group in the competition and players like Felix will have to produce their best to see the team progress through the stages.
Jadon Sancho (England)
One of the best prospects to emerge from the England team that won the FIFA U-17 World Cup in 2017 in India. The Camberwell-born winger has gone from strength to strength in becoming one of the most-sought-after wingers in the top leagues. Sancho could not be a part of the English triumph as he had to return to his German club Borussia Dortmund, which spent a staggering eight million pounds to get the crafty young attacker in its fold. Sancho had already won the player of the tournament a few months ago when England became the UEFA European U-17 runner-up. Sancho is known for his highly technical and creative style and has all the tricks to fox the opposition defence. In February, Sancho became the youngest player in the Bundesliga history to cross 50 assists in less than 100 games. Sancho, who has the ability to double up as a striker, is likely to play a key role alongside Harry Kane to make the English attack infallible.
In February, Jadon Sancho became the youngest player in the Bundesliga history to cross 50 assists in less than 100 games. – Getty Images
Ferran Torres (Spain)
The 21-year-old winger has already scored six goals for Spain, which includes a hat-trick against Germany in November 2020. His fantastic effort saw Spain thrash Germany 6-0 to reach the UEFA Nations League final. Torres also had a fantastic time with the Premier League champion Manchester City where he is mentored by one of the best coaches of contemporary football, Pep Guardiola. Torres has all the creative talent needed to become one of the key members of the Spanish squad. He is a fine combination of speed, technique and clever thinking, which is the hallmark of a wing-half. The six-foot tall player with fine heading ability is also a major threat to the opposition defenders in the penalty box.
Ferran Torres is mentored by one of the best coaches of contemporary football, Pep Guardiola. – AP
Kai Havertz (Germany)
The man who scored the only goal to see his club Chelsea FC beat Manchester City and win its second UEFA Champions League title (2020-21) will surely be a integral figurein Germany’s attacking plans. Havertz is definitely one of the best talents to emerge from Germany in recent times. He started his professional career with Bayer Leverkusen as the youngest ever debutant in the Bundesliga (till 2016) and also became the club’s youngest goal-scorer. He went on to break more records later on and became the youngest player making 50 and 100 appearances in the German top-flight. Despite having a giant frame of 6”2’, Havertz is supremely agile and has a flashing speed to surprise any opposition defence.
Kai Havertz started his professional career with Bayer Leverkusen as the youngest ever debutant in the Bundesliga (till 2016). – AFP
Gianluigi Donnarumma (Italy)
A senior national team goalkeeper at the age of 22 is considered quite young by footballing standards. Making his professional debut at the age of 16, Donnarumma has made incredible progress with one of the best clubs of the world, AC Milan, where he has already spent six seasons. With constant comparison with the legend and his illustrious predecessor in the national team, Gianluigi Buffon, Donnarumma has shown that he is the right man for the job having already won 25 caps for the Azzurri. The impressive ’keeper will have to rise to the occasion as Italy looks to regain the title it had last won 53 years ago.
Making his professional debut at the age of 16, Gianluigi Donnarumma has made incredible progress with one of the best clubs of the world, AC Milan, where he has already spent six seasons. – Reuters