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Camavinga, Moukoko & the NXGN stars to watch at the U21 European Championship

5:00 AM EDT 3/24/21
Moukoko Camavinga Brobbey NXGN GFX
The split tournament kicks off on Wednesday, with a number of the continent's wonderkids set to strut their stuff in Hungary and Slovenia

On Wednesday, the group stages of the 2021 Under-21 European Championship will get under way, with a number of the world's top young footballers set to feature.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the competition has been split, with the group games being played in March before the knockout rounds take place at the end of the European season, ahead of the the delayed Euro 2020 finals.

Hungary and Slovenia are sharing hosting duties, with 16 teams set to do battle over the next week in a bid to earn a place in the quarter-finals.

But who are the youngest players in the competition, and why could they provide the most excitement?

Goal takes a look at the NXGN-eligible players who will be on show during the tournament...

  • Brian Brobbey - Ajax - 2020

    Brian Brobbey (Netherlands)

    Age: 19

    Club: Ajax

    Having been likened to Romelu Lukaku from an early age, Brobbey is making good on his potential having recently broken into the Ajax first team.

    The striker has scored five goals in his first 13 appearances for Erik ten Hag's side, though his time at the Johan Cruyff ArenA is coming to an end having agreed a deal to join RB Leipzig at the end of the current campaign.

    A handful for centre-backs of any age, the Euros offers him his first opportunity to make his mark at U21 level for the national side.

  • Camavinga France Ukraine 2020

    Eduardo Camavinga (France)

    Age: 18

    Club: Rennes

    Back at the start of the season, many would have expected Camavinga to be challenging for a place in France's senior squad, so strong were his performances for both Rennes and Didier Deschamps' side, for whom he scored his first goal in the autumn.

    The first real slump in form of his career, however, means that he finds himself with the U21s for now, and this year's NXGN runner-up heads into tournament as one of the star attractions, despite the likelihood that he could be facing players up to five years his senior.

    Camavinga could yet make France's squad for the senior Euros with a strong end to the season, and performing well in Hungary and Slovenia would do his chances of a promotion no harm.

  • Colombo Milan Spezia Serie A

    Lorenzo Colombo (Italy)

    Age: 19

    Club: AC Milan

    Seen as a future star of the Rossoneri, Colombo has already played and scored for the Milan first team, though he is currently spending the second half of the season on loan with Serie B outfit Cremonese.

    A striker with a rocket of a left foot, less than two years ago he was scoring a brace in the final of the U17s European Championship, though Italy eventually lost out to the Netherlands.

    A late call-up for this tournament, he could yet make an impact off the bench, with the likes of Patrick Cutrone and Gianluca Scamacca set to lead the line from the start.

  • Francisco Conceicao Porto 2020-21

    Francisco 'Chico' Conceicao (Portugal)

    Age: 18

    Club: Porto

    The son of Porto manager Sergio Conceicao, Chico has been making waves in Portugal in recent weeks despite only making his first-team debut in February.

    That debut against Boavista almost had a fairy-tale ending after substitute Conceicao, having already won a penalty, looked to have laid on a stoppage-time winner, only for the wild celebrations with his father that followed to be cut short by an offside flag.

    The following week he was named Man of the Match despite only being on the pitch for 24 minutes against Maritimo, with the winger - who is left-footed but plays off the right - proving to be nightmare for defenders with his quick feet and fearless style.

  • Mohamed Daramy FC Copenhagen 2019-20

    Mohamed Daramy (Denmark)

    Age: 19

    Club: FC Copenhagen

    Able to play out wide or through the middle, Daramy will add plenty of attacking thrust to Denmark's line-up as he aims to build on the four appearances he has previously made at U21 level.

    A huge Manchester United fan, the teenager has previously been linked with both Liverpool and RB Leipzig, the latter of whom reportedly considered him as a replacement for Timo Werner following his departure in the summer of 2020.

  • Radu Dragusin - Juventus - 2020/21 - 2

    Radu Dragusin (Romania)

    Age: 19

    Club: Juventus

    There are few better clubs to learn your trade as a centre-back than at Juventus, and Dragusin is certainly taking advantage, with the 19-year-old having broken through into the first-team picture in Turin under Andrea Pirlo.

    Dubbed 'the Romanian Van Dijk' due to his comfort in possession and positional awareness, PSG, Chelsea and Atletico Madrid have all previously shown an interest in a player who has all the attributes required to reach the very top of the game.

  • Wahid Faghir Vejle 2020-21

    Wahid Faghir (Denmark)

    Age: 17

    Club: Vejle

    Already christened 'the next Zlatan Ibrahimovic', Faghir is making good on the comparisons despite only having turned 17 in July.

    The young striker is a regular starter in the Danish top-flight for Vejle, and has contributed five goals and two assists to their cause in 2020-21.

    Ajax, Leicester City and Wolves have all reportedly shown an interest in signing him, and a move to a higher level of competition now seems inevitable.

  • Isak Bergmann Johannesson Iceland

    Isak Bergmann Johannesson (Iceland)

    Age: 18

    Club: IFK Norrkoping

    The son of former Premier League and La Liga midfielder Joey Gudjonsson, Johannesson is the player many in Iceland hope that their next great footballing generation will be built around.

    The versatile midfielder enjoyed a breakout season in the Swedish top-flight with Norrkoping in 2020, scoring four goals and providing 12 assists in all competitions for the Scandinavian outfit.

    Liverpool, Real Madrid, Manchester United and Juventus have all been credited with having shown interest in the teenager, who made his full international debut against England in November.

  • Adam Karabec Czech Republic

    Adam Karabec (Czech Republic)

    Age: 17

    Club: Sparta Prague

    Many would have expected Sparta's star attraction, Adam Hlozek, to lead the line for the Czechs at this tournament, but with the 18-year-old working his way back to full fitness following a foot injury, all eyes will instead be on his club-mate Karabec.

    An attacking midfielder who can both pick passes and dribble past opponents with ease, he is already a veteran of 30 first-team matches for Sparta, despite having only celebrated his 17th birthday in July.

  • Noni Madueke PSV 2020-21

    Noni Madueke (England)

    Age: 19

    Club: PSV

    Madueke has earned his first call-up to the England U21s squad after a season in which he has been one of the breakout stars of Dutch football.

    Having left Tottenham and rejected Manchester United at the age of 16, Madueke worked his way through the PSV ranks before becoming a regular in the first team this season.

    His record of nine goals and eight assists in all competitions speaks for itself, particularly when a couple of spells out with injury are factored into the equation.

  • Youssoufa Moukoko

    Youssoufa Moukoko (Germany)

    Age: 16

    Club: Borussia Dortmund

    Likely to be the competition's star attraction as well as its youngest player, Moukoko is used to dealing with the pressure of expectation by now.

    The most talked about 16-year-old in the footballing world has already started making good on his promise in the Dortmund first team, with his record as the Bundesliga's youngest-ever goalscorer just one of a number he has already broken.

    How often he will play in this tournament remains to be seen, with Germany having selected an experienced squad that features just two players under the age of 20, but if he does, expect big things from a player many are already earmarking as a future Ballon d'Or contender.

  • Yeremi Pino Villarreal 2020-21

    Yeremi Pino (Spain)

    Age: 18

    Club: Villarreal

    Another late call-up, Yeremi is one of a number of talented young Spanish wingers currently impressing in La Liga, with the 18-year-old having been given a chance by Unai Emery this season.

    Having rejected Barcelona in 2017, the former Spain Under-18s captain has worked his way through the ranks at the Yellow Submarine before earning a promotion to the first-team squad ahead of the 2020-21 campaign.

    He has taken the opportunity with both hands, and already has five goals to his name having, at times, been trusted to start ahead of Real Madrid loanee Take Kubo and Nigeria international Samuel Chukwueze.

  • Leonidas Stergiou St Gallen 2020-21

    Leonidas Stergiou (Switzerland)

    Age: 19

    Club: St. Gallen

    Stergiou may only have turned 19 at the start of March, but the centre-back already has over 70 first-team appearances for St. Gallen under his belt, and is likely to have a key role for Switzerland at the tournament.

    Borussia Monchengladbach and Red Bull Salzburg have both reportedly shown an interest in signing him this summer, and there are likely to be more potential suitors for one of Europe's top young defenders.

  • Tiago Tomas Sporting C.P. 2020-21

    Tiago Tomas (Portugal)

    Age: 18

    Club: Sporting C.P.

    Ruben Amorim's youth revolution at Sporting has got the whole of European football talking, and Tomas is one of a number of young talents who has impressed as the Lisbon outfit close in on an unbeaten league campaign.

    A regular starter for the Liga NOS leaders, the striker already has six goals to his name this season, and has in recent weeks been linked with a move to Arsenal.

  • Arsen Zakharyan Dynamo Moscow 2020-21

    Arsen Zakharyan (Russia)

    Age: 17

    Club: Dynamo Moscow

    Creative midfielder Zakharyan had not even made a first-team appearance until the end of February, but his performances since have been so strong that he has been deemed ready to make the leap from Russia's U17s to their U21s.

    Having won a penalty and scored on his Dynamo debut, he backed that up in the following game with a Man-of-the-Match performance and another assist, and there is a feeling he could be the wildcard Russia need to make the knockout stages this week.