Soccer Betting News - SA's Leading Soccer Betting Newspaper: Top 10 players most likely to win Young Player of the Tournament

Top 10 players most likely to win Young Player of the Tournament

Cristiano Ronaldo and Joao Felix

SOCAR (State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic) is the Young Player of the Tournament sponsor for best Under-21 player.

The passion that culminates when playing for your nation is unrivalled, the emotion when putting that shirt on for the first time is unique, and the sentiment of embracing the shirt for the last time is unparalleled. The team glory is without question the ultimate prize, and the individual awards are secondary but still eagerly anticipated and scrutinized.

The UEFA European Championship started awarding the Young Player of the Tournament title for the first time in the 2016 Euro finals. Portuguese talent Renato Sanches was the first to be awarded the accolade after breaking Cristiano Ronaldo’s 12-year record for the youngest player to be selected for an international tournament, as well as start in a major tournament.

Sanches really came alive in the knockout stages of the 2016 finals, with two Man of the Match awards against Croatia and Poland. The Young Player of the Tournament award has drawn my attention and is one that shines spotlight to the next ‘big thing’ in the beautiful game.

All eyes are in full focus when a football spectacle of this magnitude is on display, and the ‘football world’ is amazed at youngsters who shine under these bright lights. The Euros were postponed, but they are finally here, and the anticipation is through the roof. Let us get into some of the young talent most likely to win the SOCAR Young Player of the Tournament.

Total eligible players for award: 72 players

List in no particular order

Matthijs de Ligt

Matthijs de Ligt

Age: 21 
Country: Netherlands
Club: Juventus, 
Position: Centre-back
International stats: 27 caps, 2 goals, 3 assists
Club stats this season: 36 appearances, 9 clean sheets, 1 goal, 1 assist

The Ajax graduate joined Juventus on a staggering £65 million in 2019 after winning everything on offer in the Netherlands top-flight. Fast forward two years, and at the tender age of 21, Matthijs de Ligt has succeeded in acquiring every major honour Italy boasts. De Ligt has been a part of the Netherland’s building blocks from under 15, 16, 17, and 19 national teams and made his breakthrough into the Netherlands first team at the age of 17. Before making a name for himself at centre-back, de Ligt’s youth consisted of an attacking midfield role, which gave him the wide passing range he holds under his belt. The Dutch set pieces have him as a target man with height on his side and his dominance in the air. With Virgil van Dijk out of the Euros, de Ligt is a sure starter and us football fans will have enough time to watch him at his best.

Reece James

Reece James

Age: 21
Country: England
Club: Chelsea 
Position: Right-back
International stats: 6 caps, 1 assist
Club stats this season: 47 appearances, 24 clean sheets, 1 goal, 5 assists

Going back just two weeks we witnessed an almost perfect performance by this young defender, Reece James, on the biggest stage there is in domestic football, the UEFA Champions League final. A perfect balance of defensive and attacking capabilities has his name on the lips of every football fan with years of growth ahead of him. James has worked his way up the youth ranks at Chelsea and completed a loan stint at Wigan Athletic in the 2018/19 season in which he was awarded Wigan’s Player of the Season. The England right-back position has been the biggest talking point around Gareth Southgate’s squad selection and is also the most tightly contested with four players, including James. Game time for the young Blues man could be an issue, but should he walk on the pitch, quality is guaranteed.

Kai Havertz

Kai Havertz

Age: 21
Country: England
Club: Chelsea 
Position: Right-back
International stats: 6 caps, 1 assist
Club stats this season: 47 appearances, 24 clean sheets, 1 goal, 5 assists

The biggest stage for club football saw Kai Havertz net Chelsea’s winning goal against Manchester City in the UEFA Champions League final in Porto. The ex-Bayer Leverkusen star was one of Chelsea’s seven big signings last season and is arguably the best of the lot, thriving at a world class level and living up to all expectations. He is truly a jack of all trades and has played in several different positions this season, showcasing his versatility on and off the ball with absolute class and football maturity. Havertz’s ability is extremely rare at 21 years of age and watching him play football is a blessing. Definitely keep your eye on Germany’s fixtures. His first test will be up against Blues teammate N’Golo Kante when they face the current world champions France on June 15th for the most anticipated matchup in the first round of group stage fixtures.

Pedri

Pedri

Age: 18
Country: Spain 
Club: Barcelona 
Position: Midfielder
International stats: 4 caps, 1 assist
Club stats this season: 52 appearances, 4 goals, 6 assists

After having a great season in La Liga 2 at Las Palmas, Barcelona made a quick swoop to secure Pedri on a steal of £2.3 million. The quick footed Spaniard links amazingly with Lionel Messi up front and has shone this season. From Man of the Match performances in his first La Liga season to a UEFA Champions League goal debut, Pedri is an outstanding player a part of Barcelona’s revamp alongside other stars like Eric Garcia and Ansu Fati. When lined up alongside his Spanish counterparts, he matches up exceptionally and should feature regularly in the Red Fury’s starting eleven.

Phil Foden

Phil Foden

Age: 20
Country: England
Club: Manchester City
Position: Midfielder
International stats: 6 caps, 2 goals, 2 assists
Club stats this season: 50 appearances, 16 goals, 10 assists

What more can be said about one of England’s next big talent, Phil Foden? The Three Lions have always had a host of young talent and there are always a select few who stand shoulders above the rest, Foden is that footballer. Carefully moulded under the watchful eye of Europe’s finest, Pep Guardiola, Foden has blossomed quite extraordinarily. The eagerness for the ball at his feet, with creative runs in behind defensive lines, topped off with the silkiest first touch has his name in all the major headlines. The Three Lions have always fallen short in the latter stages of tournaments, and the young talent displayed on Gareth Southgate’s team sheet this Euros could prove key in building brilliance with Phil Foden leading the charge out of these young lions.

Ryan Gravenberch

Ryan Gravenberch

Age: 19
Country: Netherlands
Club: Ajax
Position: Midfielder
International stats: 5 caps, 1 goal
Club stats this season: 47 appearances, 5 goals, 6 assists

Ajax is known for building the best and brightest stars in the game, and on this list is their central midfielder, Ryan Gravenberch. Known for his strength on the ball, snappy tackles, and uncanny reading of the game to make world class interceptions, he is everything you need in a number eight. The Ajax Amsterdam stalwart is more than what you just need in a number eight, he possesses the ability to creatively maneuverer his way out of tight situations with skill and composure and his decisive forward passing play is on par to that of Paul Pogba or Thomas Partey. The sky is the limit if no clubs snap him up before the Euros, they will definitely be signing him after, and at a premium price.


Adam Hlozek

Adam Hlozek

Age: 18
Country: Czech Republic
Club: Sparta Prague
International stats: 3 caps
Club stats this season: 23 apps, 15 goals, 9 assists

The Czech Republic’s youngest player on the Euro team sheet has been in fine form in the Czech league, and despite missing several games due to an injury, he’s reached the remarkable stats you see above. With the most goals for a teenager on this list, Sparta Prague’s Adam Hlozek has had a season most forwards in their prime aspire to reach, and the young Czech set the record for the youngest player to score a hat-trick in his domestic league. Hlozek is a well-rounded striker with many years ahead of him to still grow and learn. From aerial play to speed and acceleration, as well as the bonus of great strength and exceptional hold up play, the youngster can do it all in front of goal, and the records back his ability to put the ball in the back of the net.

Jadon Sancho

Jadon Sancho

Age: 21
Country: England
Club: Borussia Dortmund
Position: Forward
International stats: 18 caps, 3 goals, 5 assists
Club stats this season: 38 appearances, 16 goals, 20 assists

England have a host of inhouse talent, but there are just as many young lions producing marvellous results abroad. The biggest name outside of UK is none other than Jadon Sancho. The London-born star grew up in the Watford academy were Chelsea and Arsenal came knocking but to no avail, until the age of 14 when Manchester City scooped up the talented youngster. Sancho was tired of being slowly introduced to the fray and made a move to the Bundesliga where young talent is welcomed with 90 minutes after 90 minutes. The uber talented forward has produced remarkably at Borussia Dortmund and his efforts have been recognized by England’s head coach. The Black and Yellow’s number seven is one of just three players in the Three Lions playing outside the English Premier League. Expect big, big things from Jadon Sancho!

Jeremy Doku

Jeremy Doku

Age: 19 
Country: Belgium
Club: Rennes
Position: Forward
International stats: 8 caps, 2 goals, 2 assists
Club stats this season: 44 appearances, 4 goals, 8 assists

The only player on this list from the French Ligue 1 is Rennes’ Jeremy Doku. From the Anderlecht academy that produced the likes of Romelu Lukaku, Youri Tielemans, Dennis Praet and Alexis Saelemaerkers, Doku brings an exciting style of play into the mix. With the composure of a veteran player, the skills of a Manchester United Cristiano Ronaldo, and the speed and balance like that of his Belgian counterpart Eden Hazard, the talented winger is bound to produce the desired result for Belgium, especially under the watchful eye of Thierry Henry as Roberto Martinez’s assistant.

Joao Felix

Joao Felix

Age: 21
Country: Portugal
Club: Atletico Madrid
Position: Forward
International stats: 17 caps, 3 goals, 1 assist
Club stats this season: 40 appearances, 10 goals, 6 assists

With a Portuguese forward taking home the first ever Euro Young Player of the Tournament award in Renato Sanchez, La Liga winning Atletico Madrid’s Joao Felix is the hottest prospect to keep the award in Portugal. Starting alongside a great striker like Luis Suarez can do wonders for a youngster’s learning experience, and Felix has come to the party playing an important part in Atletico’s title-winning campaign. His most notable performance of the season came in a vital 3-2 Champions League victory in which he netted two key goals against RB Salzburg to lead his team to an emphatic victory. With Portugal possessing one of the most lethal attacks in the Euros, Felix could make up one of their front three alongside the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Bernardo Silva. Keep a close eye on the blossoming youngster this international campaign.


Notable players eligible for Young Player of the Tournament:

Gianluigi Donnarumma
Age: 21
Country: Italy
Club: AC Milan 
Position: Goalkeeper
International stats: 26 caps
Club stats this season: 48 appearances, 15 clean sheets

Nuno Mendes
Age: 18
Country: Portugal
Club: Sporting CP
Position: Left-back
International stats: 4 caps
Club stats this season: 35 appearances, 1 goal, 2 assists

Declan Rice
Age: 21
Country: England
Club: West Ham
International stats: 17 caps, 1 goal
Club stats this season: 25 appearances, 2 goals, 1 assist


Bukayo Saka
Age: 19
Country: England
Club: Arsenal
Position: Midfielder
International stats: 5 caps, 1 goal, 1 assist
Club stats this season: 46 appearance, 7 goals, 10 assists


Jude Bellingham
Age: 17
Country: England
Club: Borussia Dortmund, 
Position: Midfielder
International stats: 4 caps
Club stats this season: 46 appearances, 4 goals, 4 assists

Mason Mount
Age: 21
Country: England
Club: Chelsea
Position: Midfielder
International stats: 16 caps, 4 goals, 2 assists
Club stats this season: 31 appearances, 4 goals, 3 assists

Ferran Torres
Age: 21
Country: Spain
Club: Manchester City
Position: Forward
International stats: 11 caps, 6 goals
Club stats this season: 36 apps, 13 goals, 3 assists

Written by Joshua Gaillard