Top 10 young players to watch at Euro 2012 – part two
So after covering prospects from Greece, France, Germany, Croatia and Poland yesterday, today OTP showcases five more prospects to get you writing to the scouts of your beloved football club simply demanding answers. How did these slip through the net?
5. Christian Eriksen (aged 20) – Denmark
Eriksen deserves his place on this list even though, with Germany, Holland and Portugal in the group, he will play only three games. Danish Player of the Year. Youngest player at the last World Cup. Youngest ever scorer in European Championship qualifying. 21 international caps. A Europa League campaign. A Champions League campaign. And yet only turned 20 three months ago. Frightening.
4. Alan Dzagoev (aged 21) – Russia
Another young player that could potentially benefit from the comfort of Group A. We all remember the effect of Arshavin in Euro 2008, and the CSKA winger could potentially do the same in Polkraine. Having played an impressive 102 games just in the league by the age of 21 (and three Champions League seasons also) it is unlikely that the Czech, Polish and Greek full backs will phase Dzagoev. The only issue may be an injury that has hung around for a while.
3. Mats Hummels (aged 23) – Germany
It shows how successful their season has been and how prepared they are to invest time and effort into young players that this is Borussia Dortmund’s third player on this list. And Hummels, allowed to leave Bayern Munich aged just 19, is perhaps the most impressive of the three, now considered to be amongst the best central defenders in Europe. With 13 caps for his country, and a presumed starting berth at the Euros with the poor performances of Per Mertesacker, Hummels has also managed to score 11 goals from the back in 94 games for his club. With Manchester United reportedly sniffing about, this could be a big summer for the German.
2. Erik Pieters (aged 23) – Holland
Another player reportedly heading for the Premier League, with Newcastle close to signing the left back for a fee of £5million. Taking the place of the long-serving Giovanni van Bronckhorst was never going to be easy, but the PSV defender has been first choice ever since GVB’s retirement. The only fly in the ointment for this summer is a foot injury that is in danger of keeping out the young talent.
1. Mario Balotelli (aged 21) – Italy
Yes, it’s obvious, and yes we already know much about Mario (or do we even know half?), but it is damn easy to forget that the Italian striker is just 21. He may have a petulant attitude, tempestuous nature and unpredictable performances all in his locker, but Balotelli is exactly the sort of player we want at the Euros. He is a crowd pleaser and he attracts the interest of youngsters in the tournament. If he gets his head in the game, it could be a summer to remember after a season just the same.