Euro 2012 – A new generation!
Posted on February 18, 2012 by Andrew Younger
As 16 of Europe’s heavyweight footballing nations prepare to collide in Poland and Ukraine in a few months time, who are the young players we should be keeping an eye on to set the continent alight?
Mario Gotze – Germany
At 19 years old, Gotze is the latest attacking midfielder off the German production line. Aiming to follow in the footsteps of Mesut Ozil who announced himself to the world in style at the World Cup in 2010, Gotze shares many of the same traits as his midfield colleague. Fantastic technical ability with an eye for goal, the Borussia Dortmund star will be an integral part of Joachim Low’s side this summer.
Alan Dzagoev – Russia
Aged 21, Alan Dzagoev has already been labelled Russia’s bright hope for the tournament. As the generation that saw Russia take Euro 2008 by storm has started to fade, Dzagoev is the leading light of the next generation of stars. Despite his tender age, Dzagoev has 17 international caps, making his debut at 18 years old and the CSKA Moscow playmaker has also appeared 14 times for his club at Champions League level.
Christian Eriksen – Denmark
Another attacking midfielder with great vision, Eriksen is the latest young star making a name for himself at Ajax. Eriksen was the youngest player at the World Cup in 2010 and after picking up Dutch Football Talent of the Year as well as Danish Football Player of the Year in 2011, he is proving to be one of Europe’s most sought after players. Being able to dictate the tempo of games will make Eriksen central to Denmark’s plans for this summer and many years beyond.
Thiago Alcantara – Spain
The latest in a long line of stars out of Barcelona’s famous La Masia youth academy which has produced global superstars Lionel Messi, Xavi and Andres Iniesta. Thiago isn’t short of role models at Barca and has already been dubbed the most talented young player of his generation. Awarded player of the tournament in the 2011 European U-21 Championship, Thiago scored a spectacular goal in the 2-0 win over Switzerland in the final. The 2011-12 season has saw him appear more regularly for Barcelona with manager Pep Guardiola keen to nurture his special talent.
Yann M’Vila – France
A less glamorous player than the previous four, Yann M’Vila is making a name for himself as a midfield enforcer for Les Blues. Known for his imposing physical strength and defensive abilities, M’Vila has already captained Rennes, making him a presence in more ways than one. Representing France at every age group, M’Vila’s talent has been recognised from a very early age with the 21 year old earning rave reviews for his performances in Laurent Blanc’s side in the qualification process for this summers tournament.