One player from each team to watch at the U17 Euros

The UEFA European Under-17 Championship begins in Cyprus on Monday, and there will be a host of teams competing to become the best in Europe. It’ll be a great chance for fans and scouts to take a look at some of the most talented young stars in action.

Ahead of the tournament, we take a look at which young players could shine and become household names over the coming years.

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Group A

While Czech football has failed to reproduce the star-studded teams of past generations, their U17 side presents a few new faces that instill hope of promise to come.

Slavia midfielder Naskos is yet to see playing time at first-team level, though his inclusion in the club’s Europa League squad was a sign of confidence. With a variety of fundamental skills for a central midfielder — vision, a good first touch, ability to handle the ball well under pressure and take on opponents — Naskos possesses a swift passing game and has the intelligence to join midfield with the attack from his No. 6/No. 8 role.

Developed at the Pafos Academy to the west of the island, Christodoulou moved to Sporting CP last summer and hopes are high that a Portuguese education can shape the host nation’s midfielder into a future star.

Technically polished, decent with either foot and with a physicality that allows him to advance with the ball in crowded areas, the 17-year-old can be deployed as a No. 8, No. 10, or even on the left wing. He’s a creative passer of the ball, too.

The explosive, tenacious striker has already stirred excitement after making his first-team debut at the age of 16. Over the past months, Cvetkovic has even seen playing time against the likes of Fiorentina in the Europa Conference League. Very much an instinctive goal scorer, he needs little time to tee up his shot and his execution is as sharp as it is powerful. Despite not being particularly tall at 5-foot-8, he often outmuscles senior opponents in one vs. ones.

With left-footed centre-backs still en vogue at the elite level, the Ukraine captain is likely to see some extra attention from scouts in Cyprus. Dihtiar — who plays as a regular in the Ukrainian second tier — stands out for his skills on the ball and, composed for his age, he often picks smart line-breaking passes. Being highly capable with his weaker foot also allows him extra passing options, and though there are still improvements to be made when it comes to positioning and assertiveness, his overall game is impressively well-rounded.


Group B

Signed by Dortmund from Austrian side St. Pölten in the last transfer window, the left-footed winger offers vivacity, flair and an element of surprise to the attack. Though he is still learning, his skillset suggests that the Champions League finalists may have another jewel on their hands. He moves across the pitch quickly with long strides, and his unpredictability in attacking one vs ones is another exciting feature. The 16-year-old presses well, too, and can strike a fine set-piece with his left foot.

Another Dinamo Zagreb prospect who has immense promise, Cutuk put two goals past Germany before adding another brace against Ireland in the final qualification mini-tournament. With similar goal-scoring feats in the Croatian youth league, it’s no surprise that several big European clubs are looking to see what the 17-year-old can offer. Technically excellent, with a silky touch on the ball, Cutuk is not just a goal-scorer, but he can also create chances with his fine dribbling and pace in wide areas.

While Arsenal may have struggled to find a high-scoring senior centre-forward in the transfer market, the answer might be found at the Hale End academy. Indeed, Obi has been in inspired goal-scoring form for the U18 side, with 32 goals from 18 games.

Though it’s worth pointing out that his physical dominance gives him a significant edge against his peers at youth level, it’s still beyond doubt that Obi is a remarkable prospect. In addition to his fine speed and well-timed movement — he loves playing off the shoulders of defenders — and his composed finishing is extraordinary for one so young.

Wales – Brayden Clarke, 16, CB/RB, Arsenal

Snapped up by Arsenal amid competition from other Premier League rivals this winter, Clarke has settled well into the U18 side. The highly-rated defender made his U18 debut for Wolves at the age of 14 and is the only remaining Wales squad member from last season’s U17 finals.

As well as being sophisticated on the ball, Clarke also has a competitive edge to his game — he’s not afraid to tackle, anticipate incisively and doesn’t go missing if the game turns physical. Those leadership qualities — which he might well have picked up from his highly competitive father, who used to play in the Premier League, Nigel Quashie — will do doubt prove useful as his career progresses.


Group C

Already a global sensation when he became the youngest-ever Serie A player months before turning 16, Camarda has been a prolific goal scorer for AC Milan at academy level and his spectacular emergence has also triggered interest from the European powerhouses.

There’s more to him than the effortless finishing, though: he’s powerfully built, has a highly developed link-up game, and his change of pace can see him pull away from opponents. A complete centre-forward in the making.

One of the most prominent members of the Poland squad, the captain and top scorer (10 goals at U17 level) is a dynamic, livewire presence in the centre of midfield and has a knack of pushing into an opponents’ box from his No. 8/10 role. A competent set-piece specialist with a well-developed physique for his age, Adkonis has recently been drafted into the Legia first-team squad and signed his first professional contract last month.

Introduced to the Slovakia setup earlier this year, Lusale proved a breath of fresh air in the final qualifying round in March and scored the vital goal that saw Slovakia progress to the finals. Lusale might still be waiting for his breakout on the English youth scene with palace, but his exceptional acceleration, relentless enthusiasm to beat defenders, and clever movement in the final third are qualities that will see him talked about.

Arguably one of the most entertaining full-backs on the youth circuit throughout Europe, Antwi’s mix of athleticism, elite-level dribbling and positive mental approach are a joy to behold.

He’s extremely hard to contain as his pace, ambidexterity and control with the ball at his feet sees him pick a lane — along the line or centrally — and shoot forward, breaking multiple lines of pressure in the process. The Stockholm-born right-back has been at Chelsea since the age of 12 and before selecting his country of birth, he was also picked for England U16s.


Group D

The U17 Euros come at a perfect time for the record-breaking Sunderland prodigy as he can escape the constant transfer speculation linking him to the likes of Manchester United and Newcastle United.

To say that Rigg has announced himself on the senior football stage is an understatement, as he has played 21 times in the Championship this season already. With a combination of neat footwork, a magnificent range of passing, fine ball-striking skills and a phenomenal attitude and intensity — in evidence when he chases, closes down and tackles — it’s no wonder the fight is on for his signature.

Bouaddi has already placed himself firmly on the map with some highly promising performances in Ligue 1. In fact, just three days after turning 16 he became the youngest-ever player to appear in a European club game.

While it might be early to place him in a single position, it’s not hard to see that his outstanding capacity to get on the ball, spread it purposefully and dictate proceedings make him ideal for a playmaking No. 6 role. The maturity in his game is also staggering. He doesn’t shy away from responsibility and despite being gifted with finesse he uses it to practical means.

Portugal swept aside all competition on their way to the finals, winning all six qualifiers. From a squad packed with first-class prospects, the Sporting winger stands out as a pattern-breaking, menace of a winger.

Due to his outrageous turn of pace, relentless determination to exploit gaps in wide areas and compact body shape, an apt comparison might be to say he looks similar to a left-footed Jérémy Doku. There might be more refined, well-rounded talents in the Portuguese squad, but Quenda is such a constant threat — he took nearly three shots per 90 minutes during the qualifiers — and full of end product that he’s destined to see a lot of interest.

Even without Lamine Yamal and Pau Cubarsí — both are likely to feature in the senior squad for Euro 2024 — Spain have a ridiculously impressive set of options. The pick of a Barcelona-heavy bunch is Bernal, a deep-lying midfielder who makes the team tick. Later in the summer, Bernal might even get the opportunity to impress Xavi as he assesses his squad for next season.

It won’t come as a surprise that the left-footed La Masia youngster — who has featured regularly for the youth teams this season — is a smooth passer of the ball with first-class organisational skills. Not just a classic No. 6, Bernal also joins the attack, breaking forward by way of swift interchanges and one-twos.

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