The U21 European Championships have unearthed some fantastic talents over the years, with Rudi Voller, Luis Figo and Andrea Pirlo just some of the players to emerge at the competition.
Klass-Jan Huntelaar and Thiago Alcantara are two more recent winners of the tournament’s Best Player accolade, showing that an impressive display can serve as platform to bigger and better things.
But who will seize the opportunity this time round? Here are our top five contenders, some already well known and others not so much.
Philipp Hofmann – Germany
Currently plying his trade in the 2. Bundesliga with FC Kaiserslautern, 22-year-old striker Hofmann is the 6/1 second favourite to finish as top scorer.
At 6ft4in the Schalke youth product is a constant threat in the air, especially from set pieces and with nine goals from just 15 games for his country he has already shown glimpses of the sort of finishing that could see a bigger club calling this summer.
Check out this finish from Hofmann against England:
Harry Kane – England
Rarely does a player arrive at the U21 tournament to such fanfare but after smashing 31 goals for Tottenham this season Kane arrives in the Czech Republic in scintillating form.
A big-money move to Old Trafford has been mooted and if the 21-year-old delivers on odds of 5/1 to be top scorer there could be plenty of other suitors before the new season starts.
Got 10 minutes? Watch all of Harry Kane’s 31 goals from last season:
Bernardo Silva – Portugal
Portugal won all eight games in qualifying but Silva still stands out as a star in the making. The Monaco man hit seven Ligue 1 goals from just 17 games for the Principality club last season and has hit five from eight in midfield for the Esperancas to date.
The 20-year-old has already made his senior debut for Portugal and coach Rui Jorge will look to the former Benfica man to lead his team.
Used to the big games? Silva hits the winner against Marseille:
Andrea Belotti – Palermo
Belotti hit the headlines this season with a 95th-minute winner against Roma and the Palermo ace is already being tipped for a big future.
A return of eight goals from just 15 Italy U21 appearances comes on top of the six senior strikes he managed for the Rosanero last term and the 21-year-old knows he needs to build on such form.
Tasked with replacing Paulo Dybala as the focal point of the Palermo attack a stellar showing this summer is a must.
Check out Belotti’s Palermo highlights from this season:
Lasse Vigen Christensen – Denmark
Fulham may be a club in decline in the senior ranks but the Cottagers’ youth ranks could hardly be in better health. Christensen is just one of a number of young stars breaking through at Craven Cottage, where the 20-year-old has already made 24 senior appearances.
Five goals from 14 Denmark U21 games and five goals for the Lilywhites this term show he has an eye for goal and explains why Aston Villa are rumoured to be mulling over a £5m bid for the Dane.
Christensen was voted Fulham’s third best player last year and here’s why:
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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