#2 Theo Hernandez
AC Milan defender Theo Hernandez made his senior debut for France in a 2-0 victory over Finland in their 2022 World Cup qualifier. It was the 23-year-old's first call-up to the senior squad following an amazing season with Milan, helping them to a top four finish in Serie A.
His older brother Lucas Hernandez is a more regular name on the team, earning 26 caps for France and was a member of the Les Bleus World Cup triumph of 2018.
An Atlético Madrid youth product, he was quickly swooped away by their city neighbors but didn't quite nail down his spot there either. The left back was signed by AC Milan in 2019 after Paolo Maldini convinced him to make the switch to Italy.
Hernandez has since impressed in Milan, proving to have a real impetus while going forward. He has 29 goal contributions in 83 appearances for the San Siro side and is turning heads all over Europe.
Hernandez was deployed in a wing-back role against Finland, allowing him the freedom to attack as part of a midfield four. France manager Didier Deschamps was also very much impressed with the left back's debut performance. Deschamps was quoted saying:
“Theo has attacking abilities, despite the fact that Milan deploy him in the back four. As always, I try to put my players in the best position and in that role, he can exploit these skills.”“He’s fresh and in his first game, he showed a lot of good things,”
If things continue the same way for Hernandez, he could be a mainstay in France's defense for the foreseeable future.
#1 Florian Wirtz
Already labeled as the next big thing from Bundesliga, Florian Wirtz made his Germany debut against Liechtenstein in a 2-0 victory. By receiving has maiden cap at 18, Wirtz has become the third youngest player to appear for Germany since the second World War. He was earlier called up to the senior team in March 2021 by Joachim Low but didn't feature on the pitch. It's been a busy couple of years for the youngster breaking numerous records along the way.
The attacking midfielder joined Bayer Levekusen in 2020 at the age of 16 from the academy of rivals FC Köln. It wasn't long before he became the youngest player ever to play for them, at the age of 17 years and 34 days.
He was also pivotal in Germany's triumph in the UEFA under-21 championship with a brilliant semifinal display against the Netherlands. These performances were more than enough for him to get the call to the senior side at such a young age.
The stage is set for Wirtz to go right to the top. He's already achieved so much and will only improve with time. He runs the show for Bayer Lerverkusen and could be an important asset to the German national team as well. Markus Daun, his former coach at FC Köln and Bayer Leverkusen said this about him in March:
‘He has an incredibly clean technique,’‘Everything he does is tooth and nail. He controls the ball perfectly without having to watch the ball. In addition, he can process the game quicker and evaluate situations on the go. He can anticipate the next 2-3 steps before they even happen.’
There are plenty of comparisons to Kai Havertz and Wirtz has followed in his footsteps, taking on the no.10 role and making it his own. And like the former, it might not be long before Wirtz too makes the shift to a bigger club to fulfill his ambitions.