There are over 600 players we could feature at Euro 2020, and there aren’t many of them that are completely unknown. However, there are some unfamiliar faces amongst the superstars. These talented youngsters will hope that EUFA Euro 2020 is their platform for greatness, much like the 2018 World Cup was for Kylian Mbappé.
We’re not talking about young players like Foden, Rashford, and João Félix that have already become household names, but rather the players flying under the radar that are looking for their big break on the world stage.
So, who should you keep an eye out for in Euro 2020 that you may not have heard of before?
Jeremy Doku, Belgium
Age: 19, Position: Striker/Winger, Club: Rennes
Time might be ticking by for Belgium’s golden generation, with Qatar 2022 probably one of the last shots at glory for this talented, yet ultimately aging team. However, one of the best young talents coming through that could replace them includes Jeremy Doku.
Doku joined French side Stade Rennais for a club-record fee last fall, and while he hasn’t hit the ground running in France, he’s been superb for his country. Doku scored in his full international debut against Iceland last September and helped himself to a goal and two assists against Belarus in March. This is a player with explosive speed, similar to that of Wolves’ Adama Traore. Martinez often deploys Doku on either wing or as a second striker – he might not start every game, but he’ll undoubtedly have the opportunity to make his mark on this tournament.
Sasa Kalajdzic, Austria
Age: 23 Position: Forward Club:VfB Stuttgart
Kalajdzic smashed in 16 goals this season for newly promoted VfB Stuttgart, and while he will probably have to replicate this for another season to get noticed by big clubs, it was a sure-fire way to announce himself to Germany. At 6 ft 6 in, he is the tallest player in the Bundesliga, and his aerial threat is a given. What is most impressive about the target man is that he is also very adept with his feet, which isn’t always a given at his height. He could very well get a couple of goals for his country at Euro 2020.
Adam Hlozek, Czech Republic
Age: 18 Position: Striker Club: Sparta Prague
There hasn’t been this much hype about a Czech Republic player since the days of Pavel Nedved, Karol Poborsky, Patrik Berger, and Vladimir Smicer. Hlozek became the youngest player to play for the national team in his first game for the Czech Republic in September.
Despite spending nearly five months on the sidelines with a foot injury, the young striker still came out as the joint-top goalscorer in the Czech top flight. He finished the season with 15 goals in 19 appearances for Sparta Prague, and the manager of the national team, Jaroslav Silhavy, has high hopes for the youngster.
Alexander Isak, Sweden
Age: 21 Position: Forward Club: Real Sociedad
With 34 appearances and 17 goals in the La Liga, Isak scored more goals than Antoine Griezmann this season. His ability on the ball and natural goal-scoring threat was undoubtedly a large part of Real Sociedad’s surprisingly successful 2020/21 campaign.
Sweden will be without the talismanic Zlatan Ibrahimovic to rely on in the Euros, and this will leave space for Isak to continue his form and become the main target man for his country’s team.
Orkun Kokcu, Turkey
Age: 20 Position: Midfielder Club: Feyenoord
Kokcu scored his first goal on his Feyenoord debut at the tender age of 17, and he was a regular threat in the UEFA Youth League. AC Milan’s Hakan Calhanoglu might overshadow the young midfielder in the national team, but Kokcu’s unfussy, dynamic style of play in central midfield is getting noticed. Feyenoord has tied the player down to a new contract, but larger clubs will be watching Kokcu with a keen eye this summer.
Ryan Gravenberch, Netherlands
Age: 19 Position: Midfielder Club: Ajax
It’s not just the 6 ft 3 in stature of Gravenberch that sets him apart from others on the soccer field, but also the fact that he’s technically gifted and certainly knows how to score goals. He only made his debut for the under-21 Dutch squad in September, but he’s had such a good season that he’s immediately been promoted.
While he was an unused substitute in all three of the Netherlands’ World Cup qualifiers, he took his chance when he came off the bench and scored a sublime header in a friendly against Georgia for his first international goal. He might actually play a bigger role than he expected with Donny Van De Beek’s withdrawal through injury.
Onni Valakari, Finland
Age: 21 Position: Midfielder Club: Pafos
It’s only a matter of time until Valakari is on the move to a bigger club. He joined Pafos in Cyrpus in January 2020 and has managed to score a ridiculous 18 goals from midfield since then.
While he’s been excellent for his club, it’s the exploits of the attacking left-footed midfielder on the national stage that has really got tongues wagging. It was Valakari that helped Finland with a debut goal to win against World Champions France in November, and he has gone from strength to strength ever since.
Age: 18 Position: Midfielder Club: Barcelona
Pedri is probably the player most likely to be recognized on this list, and that’s because the 18-year-old recently became the second-quickest player to reach 50 Barcelona appearances, with Lionel Messi the one player ahead of him.
Pedri is an unbelievable talent that Barcelona signed after only playing three times for Las Palmas. He was expected to be one for the future, but his fluidity and understanding of the game have catapulted him right to the top. He has an incredible ball-recovery ratio, and if he can improve his goal-scoring record, he will be another of Barcelona’s truly great players.
Jamal Musiala, Germany
Age: 18 Position: Midfielder Club: Bayern Munich
Musiala is relatively well known for becoming the youngest player to appear for Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga, and he became Bayern’s youngest goalscorer too.
The attacking midfielder actually played for the Three Lions until U21 level but decided to choose Germany at a senior international level. Musiala scored his first Champions League goal against Lazio at just 17, and his involvement in the German squad only confirms that this is a player who is going places.
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