The U-21 Championships kick off this week, with some of the best young and talented players on show. This tournament that lasts about two weeks gives viewers the chance to see the big talents of tomorrow, today. Recent winners include the likes of Juan Mata (2011), Mesut Ozil (2009), Klaas Jan Huntelaar (2007) and Danielle De Rossi (2004). Back in 1994, an Italian side equipped with a certain Fabio Cannavaro and Filipo Inzaghi won this tournament; 12 years later, the two were in the Italian side that won the World Cup in Germany. Needless to say, a good showing in this tournament could go a long way in any player’s career. This is the first real opportunity football fans get to see talents of tomorrow on show, a scout’s heaven!
So we’ve prepared a list of players to watch out for in the upcoming tournament in Israel. Ofcourse, we are well aware of the obvious talents such as the likes of Lewis Holtby and Isco Alcarcon; the list we’ve prepared consists of the ‘less-obvious’ talents (and one that isn’t guided by a Premier League myopia).
10. Alvaro Morata
National Team: Spain
Club: Real Madrid
Despite being at the tender age of 20, Alvaro Morata has already experienced football at the top level, having featured (and started) in one of the biggest games in world football- The El Clasico. A typical frontman with the ability to dominate in the air, Morata already has a La Liga and Copa Del Rey winners’ medal to his name. He was a part of the Spain side that won the U-19 Euros two years back and finished the tournament in Romania as the top scorer. The Spaniard has tons of potential and will use this tournament to showcase his true abilities in the hopes of getting a loan move to an interested side, allowing him to play regular first-team football.
9. Bruno Martins Indi
National Team: Netherlands
A versatile defender with the ability to play in the central defensive area, or outwide, Bruno Martins Indi is a talented youngster who has come through Feyernoord’s youth academy. The Dutch defender of Portuguese descent is one of the most experienced players in the tournament, having played nearly 80 senior games for the Dutch club. With the option of playing for Portugal or Netherlands, the youngster picked the Oranje and has already made 9 appearances for the senior national team; also scoring 2 goals in the 2014 World Cup qualifiers in the process. In total, he has played 31 times for various Dutch sides.
8. Lorenzo Insigne
National Team: Italy
Position: Attacking Midfielder
At 5 feet 4 inches, Lorenzo Insigne is one of the shortest players in the U-21 Championship. His creative ability though, is immense. Encouraged by Walter Mazzarri into the first team, Insigne has developed into a talented individual. Much of his first-team football experience came in the Serie B while on loan at Pescara, under the guidance of a certain Zdenek Zeman. During his time under the ex-Roma boss, Insigne even won the Serie B footballer of the Year Award. The Italian has all the prerequisites of a creative advanced playmaker to be deployed behind the striker. The once capped youngster could be in for a career-changing season under new boss Rafael Benitez, and he’ll want to showcase his talent in front of the new boss.