The Young Ones

The Young Ones

From Wayne Rooney to Andrei Arshavin, the European Championships have always been the place for young stars to announce themselves on the world stage. Football Italia assesses some of the young guns hoping to catch the eye this summer.

Kingsley Coman [France]

Not many players get to represent Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus, Bayern Munich and the French national team. Fewer still do it all at the age of 19.

Having joined the Bavarian side on loan with an option to buy last summer, Coman managed six goals and 11 assists in all competitions, and was pivotal in eliminating parent club Juventus from the Champions League.

Ladislav Krejčí [Czech Republic]

A blonde left-winger for Sparta Prague, the 23-year-old has somewhat inevitably been compared to Pavel Nedvěd.

While he has a long way to go if he’s to reach those levels, Krejčí was Sparta’s star man in their shock win over Lazio in the Europa League, and already has 20 caps for his country.

Aleksandr Golovin [Russia]

Starred in the Russia side which won the Under-17 European Championship, as well as the Under-19 side who were beaten finalists in 2015.

Having made his debut for the senior side last season, the CSKA Moscow midfielder has scored twice in his three caps so far. With Russia hosting the World Cup in 2018, Golovin will want to use this chance to impress on the international stage.

Dele Alli [England]

One of a number of promoting youngsters in the England squad, Alli has enjoyed a meteoric rise this season.

Having spent last season on loan at Milton Keynes Dons, he he returned to Tottenham Hotspur in the summer and scored 10 times in 33 games. An England cap followed, and on his first start for the Three Lions he scored the opener against France.

Mateo Kovačić [Croatia]

Having sealed a €29m move from Inter to Real Madrid in the summer of 2015, the creative midfielder endured a frustrating season at Bernabeu.

The 22-year-old made just eight La Liga starts, and was sent-off against Valencia in January. Still, you don’t play for Inter and Real Madrid without being a talented player, and Kovačić will want to live up to his undoubted potential in France.

László Kleinheisler [Hungary]

Given his debut against Norway in the qualification play-off despite not playing a single minute of club football up to that point, Kleinheisler repaid Coach Bernd Storck’s faith by scoring the winner.

The 22-year-old has since moved to Werder Bremen, and has earned comparisons to Paul Scholes - though that may have something to do with his ginger hair!

Daniele Rugani [Italy]

One of a number of talented young players in the Azzurri set-up, the Juventus defender has an outside chance of making Antonio Conte’s squad for the tournament.

Having returned to the Bianconeri from Empoli in the summer, the 21-year-old broke into the side in the second half of the season, making 17 appearances in Serie A.

Almost certainly the future of the Azzurri defence, alongside Milan’s Alessio Romagnoli, Rugani could gain some valuable tournament experience this summer.