Who Will be the Breakout Stars of EURO 2024?

EURO 2024 kicks off this week. We take a look at a handful of possible breakout stars from the highly anticipated tournament.

The jam-packed summer of football is finally upon us. EURO 2024 kicks off this week, with tournament hosts Germany opening up the action against Scotland on Friday. While notorious for being a grueling competition filled with drama and intensity, the EUROs are also known for jump-starting the careers of football’s youngest stars.

In 2004, we saw Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney announce themselves on the global stage for their respective countries. Four years later, Andrey Arshavin led Russia to the semifinals, then secured a move to Arsenal that winter. EURO 2016 had Renato Sanches break through for winners Portugal, winning the golden boy award on the back of his performance.

There are plenty of young ballers that will be center stage in EURO 2024, but who will truly announce themselves as the next superstar?

Arda Guler

Türkiye was a popular dark horse pick in the lead up to EURO 2020, only to end up with zero points. Three years later, the nation returns to the tournament with lower expectations but a more exciting team. A key reason is 19-year-old sensation Arda Guler.

The attacking midfielder broke through at Fenerbahce in the 2021-22 season, where he became the youngest goal scorer in Super Lig history. He would wear the famous No. 10 for the club the season after, where he won the man of the match in the Turkish Cup final against Istanbul Basaksehir. Guler’s stellar play earned him a move to Real Madrid this past season, where in limited action he showed his quality.

Türkiye is a young squad especially in midfield and attack, with Hakan Calhanoglu expected to lead the forces. Guler will have the freedom in attack to highlight his quality, and if he performs the way he did for Real Madrid this season in his limited minutes, Türkiye could make some noise in a tough group alongside Portugal, Georgia, and the Czech Republic.

Benjamin Sesko

One of football’s most wanted strikers will be at EURO 2024 in the form of Benjamin Sesko. The 21-year-old Slovenian had been involved in multiple transfer rumors with the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea, and Manchester United, though he recently re-signed with RB Leipzig with a new release clause. A potential summer move could have been further motivation for Sesko this tournament, but he will still be dangerous regardless.

Sesko had a fantastic qualifier campaign with five goals in nine games along with a couple of assists. He ended the domestic season with Leipzig in good form, so he is red-hot heading into the tournament. In a group where all four teams have a realistic chance of making it through, Sesko will have to be at his clinical best to help Slovenia progress. The opposing defenses Sesko will be going up against in England, Denmark, and Serbia are not the strongest — making for a sneaky golden boot pick here.

Joao Neves

Like Sesko, Joao Neves is another name who has been popular early on in this year’s summer transfer window. After a fantastic campaign for Benfica, Neves looks to be the next young talent to leave for big money from Lisbon. The 19-year-old midfielder has been strongly linked to Manchester United for the past few months.

Making his Portugal senior debut last October, Neves has quickly gained the trust of manager Roberto Martinez and has seen his usage in the squad increase every game, including starting the last friendly before the tournament against Ireland.

In a tournament where some of football’s next generation of star midfielders will be on display, Neves has a fantastic opportunity to stake his claim amongst the best. The likes of Kobbie Mainoo, Warren Zaire-Emery, Fermin Lopez, and Arthur Vermeeren will all be playing, but its Neves who is likely to start for his country. Playing next to stars like Bernardo Silva, Bruno Fernandes, Rafael Leao, and Ruben Dias will only instill more confidence and allow him to be himself. He will bring a certain element of aggression and willingness to put a foot in for a tackle that Portugal will need.

Milos Kerkez

The 20-year-old Hungarian fullback is a hot commodity after a successful season at Bournemouth. He has been heavily linked with Manchester United and Chelsea, as both clubs are desperate for reinforcements at left back.

Hungary could be one of those sneaky teams in the tournament as they have a favorable group in Germany, Switzerland, and Scotland. On paper, they should get enough points to qualify through the third-place path at the very least. Milos Kerkez will be a huge X-factor for the Hungarians with his ability to go up and down the left flank.

He has proven to be good enough defensively as well as be a key contributor in attack by constantly overlapping. In a group where he will have to mark the likes of Leroy Sane and Jamal Musiala, both attributes will be needed.

Lamine Yamal

Lamine Yamal is a little different from the other names on the list as he has already announced himself on the main stage this season at Barcelona. But similarly to Pedri at EURO 2020, Yamal can take it one step further. Like how Rooney and Ronaldo declared themselves as next up in EURO 2004, Yamal can solidify himself as one of the heirs to the throne of best players in the world.

Spain has a young squad and while they still play the Spanish way, on the wings it’s a little bit different. The nation is not known for quick and direct wingers, but in the pair of Nico Williams and Yamal that is exactly what they have. Yamal has shown up for every big occasion in his career so far, and the EUROs stage should be no different. With Spain being in the group of death with Italy, Croatia, and Albania, Yamal will have the opportunity to steal the headlines. In a summer where Real Madrid have already signed Kylian Mbappe, and Vinicius Jr. is a favorite to win the Ballon d’Or, the Barcelona youngster can prove that he will belong on the same podium as them soon enough.

Leave a Reply