The eight-team European Under-19 Championship enters the knockout stage, with France taking on Israel and England taking on Italy in Tuesday’s semi-finals.
But which players excelled in the group stage? And who made a name for themselves? Our resident scout Tor-Kristian Karlsen takes a look at some of the best young talents from the tournament in Slovakia.
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The Chadian-born winger, who had already made a name for himself in Rennes academy as a prolific forward and then as an occasional first-team substitute, excelled – along with his two fellow strikers Alan Virginius and Ange-Yoan Bonny — in the 5th :0 win against Slovakia. With his direct run, dribbling and ability to smack an opponent, the left footer scored one goal and set up two as France drove to a big opener win. The energetic 19-year-old also scored one goal against Romania and two in the win against Italy thanks to his superb off-ball running and finished the group stage with five games out of three. A top prospect who could be months away from a real breakthrough in Ligue 1.
Club: Le Havre
One of the most talked about players ahead of the tournament, the hulking defender barely struggled in the group stage. At 6ft 7, the 19-year-old cuts a slightly odd figure for a centre-back, but despite his massive size, he has good body control, has some mobility and — perhaps even more surprisingly — is both in possession (left-footed ) as well as being able to push the ball into midfield. While Toure – who ended the season as a regular at Le Havre of Ligue 2 – tends to take down anything thrown at him, he’s also combative and a good tackler. He is now being pursued by several top clubs in Europe.
Club: Rapid Vienna
Although Demir’s short career at Barcelona hasn’t worked out – he played in nine competitive games for the Catalans before his loan was called off and he returned to Rapid Vienna in January – the left-footed playmaker has left his mark on Austria throughout the tournament, albeit the side doesn’t work particularly well. With the occasional burden of too much responsibility on his young shoulders, Demir has still displayed his exquisite turns, creativity, brilliant ball control and clever football brain, particularly when playing clean triangles and combinations in the last third. He also showed plenty of personality as he kept showing up in the 2-0 loss to a totally dominant side from England.
Club: Maccabi Tel Aviv
Gloukh was already on many scouts’ radars, having impressed at club level and excelling in the Euro qualifiers, but few expected the Israeli to make such an impression. 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 talk of a €10m move this summer is growing. Gloukh is a brilliant dribbler who always seems to take the ball in the most favorable positions and is able to push through teammates with perfectly weighted passes when running towards opponents. His exquisite touch in the 2-1 goal against Austria was nothing short of paramount and he was at times unplayable, with an intuition and flair in the last third rarely seen in a player so young.
Club: Aston Villa
The Aston Villa midfielder, who was considered one of the star players ahead of the tournament, didn’t disappoint those early predictions. Chukwuemeka has been in amazing form and has at times seemed like he’s transcended the level of U19 football by now (as evidenced by the confident manner in which he scored his goal against Serbia). Midfielder athletic, with the energy to dare up and down for the duration of the game, but he’s also elegant enough, lithe on the ball and technically adept to go with him.
A scout present at the tournament told me, “It’s difficult to imagine a more ideal No. 8 for the modern game; he attacks, he creates, he defends. His mentality is also clearly top notch. He’s destined to be a top player.”
Club: Tottenham Hotspur
The Spurs forward, one of the key players for the England U19 side during qualifying, has reproduced his form from the earlier rounds in Slovakia. Spearheading the attack of an impressive English generation – although team-mate Alfie Devine and Chelsea’s Harvey Vale also deserve a mention – Scarlett stood out with two opportunistic goals in the 4-0 win over Serbia. More than just a goalscorer, however, he’s a constant thorn in the opponent’s side thanks to his relentless movement and intelligent, razor-sharp runs behind defense. Furthermore, despite only making a handful of games for Tottenham’s first-team, Scarlett has proven 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 Milan
A dynamic No8 who has been a mainstay of the Italian side throughout the U19 season. Casadei may not be the most spectacular of youngsters, but he is extremely efficient at what he does: he presses convincingly, wins the ball through excellent positioning and covers wide areas in midfield. He is efficient and practical in possession, avoiding unnecessary touches and focusing on letting the game flow. Safe in the passing game as well, Casadei is always looking for attacking options and is able to break through the defensive lines with quick and accurate passes or make progressive runs into space. The physically imposing midfielder also possesses clean ball control and controls the ball well in tight areas.
Club: Red Star Belgrade
German-born Motika now represents Serbia after appearing in the U16 for his native country. After impressing in Bayern Munich’s youth team, he was signed by Red Star Belgrade for €3m in January following his departure from Hertha Berlin in 2017, although the German giants have the option of re-signing him. Motika often plays on the left flank and likes to dash at opponents with impressive speed and quick feet before cutting in and unleashing vicious shots – his game even has an Arjen Robben touch. He’s also been working on his physique to compete on the more physical side of the game. — David Cartlidge
https://www.espn.com/soccer/uefa-european-under-19-championship/story/4690581/european-u19-championship-mens-stars-englands-chukwuemekascarlett-and-more England’s Chukwuemeka, Scarlett and more