The eight-team European Under-19 Championship is in the round of 16, with France taking on Israel and England taking on Italy in the semi-finals on Tuesday.
But which players stood out during the group stage? And who made a name for himself? Our resident scout Tor-Kristian Karlsen takes a look at some of the best young talent in the tournament in Slovakia.
– Stream ESPN FC Daily on ESPN+ (US only)
– You don’t have ESPN? Access immediately
Having already made his mark as a top striker in the Rennes academy and then as an occasional impact substitute for the first team, the Chad-born winger was exceptional – along with his two fellow forwards Alan Virginius and Ange-Yoan Bonny – – in the 5-0 win over Slovakia. With his direct running, dribbling skills and ability to beat an opponent, the left-footed winger netted once and netted two as France cruised to a big opening win. Thanks to his class-leading off-the-ball run, the energetic 19-year-old also added a goal against Romania and two in the win over Italy to finish the group stage with five from three games. A top prospect who could be months away from a real breakthrough in Ligue 1.
Position: Central defender
Club: Le Havre
One of the most talked about players heading into the tournament, the giant defender faced few problems in the group stage. With his 6ft 7in frame, the 19-year-old has a bit of an odd build for a centre-back, but despite his massive size, he has great control over his body, is reasonably agile and – perhaps even more surprisingly – is both composed in possession (left foot) and capable of advancing with the ball in midfield. While Touré – who finished the season as a regular player for Le Havre in Ligue 2 – tends to tackle anything that comes up in the air, he is also combative and a good tackler. He is now followed by several major European clubs.
Club: Rapid Vienna
Although Demir’s brief career at Barcelona didn’t pan out – he featured in nine competitive games for the Catalans before his loan was canceled and he returned to Rapid Vienna in January – the left-handed playmaker has scored Austria throughout the season. tournament, even though the team wasn’t doing particularly well. Sometimes left too much responsibility on his young shoulders, Demir always showed off his exquisite turns, creativity, brilliant close control and smart football brain, especially when playing neat triangles and combinations in the final third. He also showed plenty of personality as he continued to piggyback against an utterly dominant England side in the 2-0 loss.
Age: 18 years old
Club: Maccabi Tel Aviv
Gloukh was already on the radar of many scouts, having impressed at club level and having stood out in the Euro qualifying rounds, but few expected the Israeli to have such an impact. A mature, intelligent and technically brilliant attacking midfielder – part No.8, part No.10 or creative winger – he has won many admirers with his performances and the talk of a €10m transfer this summer. are accelerating. Difficult to dispossess when running against opponents, Gloukh is a brilliant dribbler, who always seems to pick up the ball in the most favorable positions and is able to slide his teammates with perfectly weighted passes. His exquisite touch to set up the 2-1 goal against Austria was simply sublime and he was unplayable at times, with an intuition and flair in the final third rarely seen by such a youngster.
Age: 18 years old
Club: Aston Villa
Strongly tipped to be one of the star players heading into the tournament, the Aston Villa midfielder – who played 12 Premier League games last season – hasn’t let those early predictions down. Chukwuemeka has been in stunning form and at times looked like he is now past U19 level football (as illustrated by the confident manner in which he took his goal against Serbia.) Not only the athletic box-to-box midfielder, with the energy to venture out onto the pitch for the duration of the game, but he’s also so stylish, soft on the ball and technically adept to go with it.
A scout at the tournament told me: “It’s hard to think of a more ideal No.8 for the modern game; he attacks, he creates, he defends. His mentality is clearly on top too. He is destined to become a top player.” .”
Age: 18 years old
Club: Tottenham Hotspur
One of the key elements of the England U19 squad in qualifying, the Spurs striker replicated his form from previous rounds in Slovakia. Spearheading the attack of an impressive generation of England – although team-mate Alfie Devine and Chelsea’s Harvey Vale also deserve a mention – Scarlett caught the eye with two opportunistic goals in the 4-0 win over Serbia . He is more than just goalscoring though, as he has been a constant thorn in the opposition side due to his relentless movement and smart, sharp runs behind the defence. Moreover, despite only playing a handful of games for the Tottenham first team, Scarlett has demonstrated that he is a centre-forward who continues to work on his game and his development potential is high. . Indeed, his breakthrough in the Premier League could be imminent.
Club: Inter Milano
A dynamic No.8 who has been a mainstay for the Italian side throughout the U19 campaign. Without being the most spectacular of prospects, Casadei is extremely effective in what he does: he presses with conviction, recovers the ball thanks to excellent positioning and covers large areas in midfield. In possession, he is efficient and practical, avoiding unnecessary touches and concentrating on the flow of the game. Casadei is also positive in his passing, always looking for attacking options and is able to break down defensive lines with quick and accurate passes, or by performing progressive races in space. The physically imposing midfielder also has precise control and controls the ball well in tight areas.
Club: Red Star Belgrade
Born in Germany, Motika now represents Serbia after playing for his native nation at U16 level. After impressing in Bayern Munich’s youth team after leaving Hertha Berlin in 2017, he was snapped up by Red Star Belgrade for €3m in January, although the German giants have the option to re-sign it. Often playing from the left side, Motika enjoys running over opponents with impressive speed and quick feet, before cutting and unleashing vicious shots – there’s even a touch of Arjen Robben to his game. He’s also worked on his physique to compete on the more physical side of the game. — David Cartlidge