The U21 European Championship is underway and there are a number of young talents and hidden gems embedded in the assorted European squads. While the well-known likes of Harry Kane, Emre Can and Marc-Andre ter Stegen are the headline acts in England and Germany’s camps, there is plenty of additional foreign talent on show at this summer’s tournament.
European U21 Championships: Ones to Watch
Pierre Hojbjerg – The 19-year-old Danish midfielder is on the books of German giants Bayern Munich, but has been out on loan at FC Augsburg for the last Bundesliga season. A promising prospect and a product of Bayern’s prestigious youth system, Hojbjerg is a central-midfielder who has made seven senior international for Denmark, but is a mainstay in the U21 side, scoring four goals in his six appearances to date, an impressive record for a midfielder. Hojbjerg is yet to break into the Bayern Munich side and cement down a place in the heart of the midfield, but nourished by world-renowned Pep Guardiola, the 2015-16 season promises to be a prosperous one for the talented youngster. Having already gained a 2-1 victory over the Czech Republic U21’s in this summer’s tournament, the Danes could go far with Hojbjerg at the heart of the charge to junior European glory.
Bernardo Silva – Portugal U21’s attacking midfielder has enjoyed a prosperous campaign in Ligue 1 with AS Monaco, scoring nine goals in 32 appearances, making an initial loan deal permanent in January for €15.75m from Benfica, where he failed to make a breakthrough. Silva only has one senior international cap to his name, coming in March of this year, but for the U21 side he has been a mainstay throughout the qualifying campaign for this summer’s tournament. A natural goalscorer and gifted playmaker, the slight-of-stature midfielder has excellent pace and is able to turn away from defenders leaving them at his heels, something he has terrorised Ligue 1’s defences with in the season just gone. Should Portugal progress from Group B, Bernardo Silva is one to watch, and is expected to make waves on bigger European and International stages in years to come.
Domenico Berardi – Owned by Champions League Finalists Juventus, but loaned out at Sassuolo for the past two years where he has enjoyed a rich vein of goalscoring form, the Italian striker is one to watch on the youth international stage. After making an impact 2014-15 Serie A season, Berardi is regarded as one of Italy’s most promising youth prospects, with a keen eye for goal. Yet to make a senior appearance for Italy, Berardi is knocking on the door, and it will be hard to turn away a young striker with such attacking prowess, after netting 15 Serie A goals last term. It is clear he knows where the goal is, but he can also find his team-mates, registering 10 assists, meaning Berardi had a hand in 25 of Sassuolo’s 49 goals, a significant contribution. The future looks bright for Berardi and with already one goal to his name at this tournament, how many more can he add for the Azzurrini.