The 5 Stars Of The U19 European Championships
Posted on 29th July 2016
The France under-19s managed to go one better than their senior counterparts last week, by winning the European Championships.
Ludovic Batelli’s youngsters trounced Italy 4-0 in the final, claiming a third European title at this level for France. In doing so, they demonstrated that there is plenty more young talent coming through for Les Bleus, in addition to the likes of Anthony Martial, Kingsley Coman and Ousmane Dembélé, who have all made their mark in senior football recently.
But France were not the only ones showcasing some outstanding prospects during the tournament in Germany. There were plenty of young players thriving under the spotlight, and marking themselves out as ones to watch for the future. Here are five of the best players from the under-19 Euros who you should be keeping a close eye on in the near future:
Jean-Kévin Augustin (France)
The 19-year-old Paris Saint Germain striker was in phenomenal form throughout the tournament, and finished as the competition’s highest scorer, with a record-equalling tally of six goals from five games.
And it was Jean-Kévin Augustin who got the ball rolling in the final by netting a spectacular and decisive opening goal against Italy. The Italians had started the game well, and were looking to assert their dominance, only for Augustin to pick the ball up 30 yards from goal, burst through the centre of the opponents’ defence and finish coolly.
The teenager made 13 Ligue 1 appearances for PSG last season, and he could be set to add to that number under new manager Unai Emery in the upcoming campaign.
Kylian Mbappé (France)
Kylian Mbappé formed a deadly strike partnership with Augustin in the French attack, as the two men between them netted all of their side’s eight goals in the group stage.
The Monaco striker’s best performance came during the semi-final against Portugal, where he assisted the first goal for Ludovic Blas and scored the next two himself, to seal a 3-1 victory. The speedy striker also demonstrated his incredible technique with one of the most outrageous pieces of skill in the final: picking the ball up on the right touchline, Mpabbé flicked the ball over the head of his marker with the outside of his right foot, before swinging in a dangerous cross that eventually led to France’s fourth goal.
Despite being only 17 years old, Mbappé already has 11 Ligue 1 appearances under his belt, and his name will undoubtedly have been marked down in the notebooks of scouts from across the Continent.
Manuel Locatelli (Italy)
AC Milan midfielder Manuel Locatelli was the heartbeat of the Italy midfield, orchestrating his side’s attacks and conducting the tempo of the action, as the Italians made it all the way to the final before eventually being outclassed by France.
The highlight of Locatelli’s campaign was the stunning free-kick he scored against Austria in the group stage.
The 18-year-old made his Serie A debut for Milan in April, and made his first senior start against Roma on the final day of last season.
Philipp Ochs (Germany)
Hoffenheim winger Philipp Ochs produced a dazzling display when bagging a hat-trick against Portugal in the group stage, although it wasn’t enough to prevent Germany from losing 4-3.
The 18-year-old possesses great speed, superb technique and outstanding dribbling skills.
Having made five Bundesliga appearances to date, Ochs is knocking on the door of a regular place in Die Kraichgauer’s first-team. And Hoffenheim manager Julian Nagelsmann will surely appreciate the benefit of giving opportunities to young players, as the 29-year-old is the youngest manager in Bundesliga history.
Dominic Solanke (England)
Chelsea striker Dominic Solanke formed a great understanding with strike partner Isaiah Brown at the tournament, as he helped himself to group stage goals against France and the Netherlands.
Solanke was a key player for the Three Lions as they became the only team to record a victory over France on their run to the semi-final, before losing 2-1 to Italy.
Solanke spent last season on loan with Vitesse Arnhem in the Eredivisie. The 18-year-old scored seven goals in the Dutch top division, and will be hoping to make the breakthrough at Stamford Bridge next season under new manager Antonio Conte.
About the author – Ryan Baldi
Ryan is a Midlands based freelance sports writer specialising in European football. He has been fascinated with the continental game ever since he was presented with his first football kit at the age of 7 years old whilst on holiday in Spain – a Barcelona shirt with ‘Romario 10’ printed on the back. A contributor to numerous footballing websites, Ryan has also covered martial arts for local and national print publications. Ryan’s musings on European football can be found here.