5️⃣ young players to watch at Euro 2022 👶 | OneFootball

5️⃣ young players to watch at Euro 2022 👶

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OneFootball

Padraig Whelan

Among the established talents, there are some promising youngsters eager to make a mark at this summer’s European Championship.

Here are five to keep an eye on.


Lauren Hemp (England)

At 21, the Manchester City winger is the youngest outfield member of England’s squad this summer but as the adage goes if you’re good enough, you’re old enough.

That is undoubtedly the case with Hemp, who quickly earned the trust of Sarina Wiegman after she took over as coach last year.

Established as a regular starter in the Lionesses’ front three, she is already hitting the levels she promised throughout her early years in the game.

Signed by City at just 17, it didn’t take long for Hemp to make an impact (as her FA Cup final goal attests) and she has deservedly taken PFA Young Player of the Year honours in four out of the last five seasons!

A fast, dynamic wide player, it isn’t just her trickery and directness which will be a worry for defences this summer as Hemp has established herself as a serious goal threat too.

She has six goals in 20 caps so far, including a four-goal haul in the record-breaking 20-0 win over Latvia last year.


Selma Bacha (France)

Another 21-year-old who is set to take the tournament by storm this summer, Bacha has a huge future ahead.

On the back of a breakout season with Lyon last year in which they ruthlessly reclaimed their domestic and European titles, she is in line to shine in England.

Bacha, a left-back who is also capable of playing further forward if required, possesses a pinpoint and reliable final ball which provides chance after chance for team-mates.

Be it from open play or deadly deliveries from set-pieces, she is set to give a star-studded French attack plenty of opportunities for goals this summer.

But to pigeon-hole Bacha as solely an attacking outlet would be to do her defensive duties a disservice and her performance in the Champions League final win against Barcelona’s brilliance in attack was proof of her qualities in that regard.

She is the archetypal modern full-back.


Lena Oberdorf (Germany)

Any player who sets their country’s record as the youngest player to appear at a World Cup, as Oberdorf did in 2019, is bound to be something special.

That the Wolfsburg midfielder did so having only transitioned from playing on men’s teams to the female game one year previously is testament to her quality. It has been a remarkable rise that shows no signs of slowing down.

Although she has played at centre-back, striker and even No. 10, her intelligence, game-reading and management and exceptional range of passing mean she is best utilised in a defensive midfield role where she is most comfortable given her skillset.

The 20-year-old is also a goal threat in addition to pulling off several trademark tenacious tackles per game. Essentially, she does the work of several midfielders all rolled into one ferocious force.

And despite her youth, particularly in comparison to more senior members of the squad, she has already gained a reputation for being one of the loudest and most talkative players on the field – with many in her homeland already tipping her for the captaincy some day.

That day may not be so far away for this natural born leader.


Clàudia Pina (Spain)

Teenager Salma Paralluelo could have been the Spanish contender to take this crown with the adept 400m sprinter being included in the squad to the surprise of many but injury has ruled her out – giving Pina more of the spotlight – not that she really needs it.

With key player Alexia Putellas already 28, it is on Pina’s 20-year-old shoulders that the future (and present) of Spanish football truly rests and she appears ready to take all of that pressure in her stride.

The forward, who will likely start the tournament as a dangerous bench option, made her debut for current club Barcelona at the age of just 16 but truly blossomed last season as the Blaugrana dominated domestically, the hard work of a loan spell at Sevilla paying off.

Most as ease when drifting in off the left flank or even dropping deeper to conduct things for the forward line, Pina is a genuine triple threat with her deadly finishing on both feet (often from range too) and knack for a close range headed finish when ghosting into the area.

She has already given an indication of her lethal qualities in the final third at international level, winning Player of the Tournament honours and finishing as top scorer as she led Spain to glory at the Under-17 World Cup four years ago.

Now it is time to try to recreate such success at senior level.


Julie Blakstad (Norway)

Norway has proven to be an incredible breeding ground for talent in both the men’s and women’s games in recent decades and the Manchester City midfielder is just the latest example of the quality being produced.

She made the move to the north west of England from Rosenborg in January this year, with City winning her signature (paying a reported record fee for a Norwegian player) amid serious interest from across the continent and it isn’t hard to see why so many were keen on the 20-year-old.

Studying for a Masters in Engineering away from the field of play, it is her arranging on it which have proven impressive with Blakstad willing and, more importantly, capable to fill in out of position if needs be, slotting in seamlessly at full-back last season.

That could even prove to be her position long-term given how impressively she has performed there at a time when she was adjusting to England while not at peak fitness and then contracting COVID-19 all in a hectic first few months – meaning her displays are deserving of even greater credit.

“The makings of a really good player are there,” club manager Gareth Taylor said of her in April. “She works tremendously hard and always has a smile on her face. She has good physical attributes, good technical ability and a hammer of a left foot. She is a joy to work with.”

Her surprise choice of the No. 41 jersey because it could be identified as hers and her alone also give her another reason to stand out on the pitch. Not that she needs another one of course.