Ten Hot Prospects At The UEFA European Under-19 Championships

An array of talent on display...
Mattia Destro
Age 19
Nationality Italy
Club Genoa (on loan from Inter)
Position Striker

The Azzurrini may have foundered so far at these finals but their patchy form belies a level of capability that saw them win five games running before defeat to their Russian counterparts at the end of May. Mattia Destro found the net an astonishing eight times in that mini-run. Inter's top scorer in under-19 competition last season, Destro struck 18 times to earn rave reviews. As part of the deal that sees the Nerazzurri sign Andrea Ranocchia, the striker will ply his trade at the Rossoblu next term.



Sergio Canales

Age 19
Nationality Spain
Club Real Madrid
Position Midfield

It did not Real Madrid long to decide that the Santander native was the man for them; the Spanish giants signed him from Racing for a reported fee of €4.5m with less than a full season's worth of football behind him. Along with Angel Di Maria and Pedro Leon, Canales represents the youthful future of the capital club and is already no stranger to the sharp end of Liga action. Last season he scored six times in 26 appearances for his hometown club, including a stunning brace against Sevilla. The attacking midfielder displays excellent technical skills and a delicate touch in possession. He was a member of Spain's victorious UEFA European under-17 championship squad in 2008.

Sergio Oliveira

Age 18
Nationality Portugal
Club Porto
Position Attacker

The 18-year-old is the youngest player to have donned the colours of the Dragons in history. He featured in a cup game against Sertanense at the tail end of 2009 and impressed with his level of performance. He has since signed a professional deal for the Portuguese side with a buy-out clause set at €30m. Has been known, already, to indulge in bouts of histrionics on the field despite his talent.



Alexandre Lacazette
Age 19
Nationality France
Club Olympique Lyonnais
Position Striker

The 1.75m forward has represented France at every level since under-16 and has just signed his first professional contract with his hometown club, Lyon. He made his debut for Les Gones in May, against Auxerre, and is regarded as a prospering talent in l'Hexagone. Described by Goal.com's French expert, Robin Bairner, as a 'lively striker who likes to get in behind defences', Lacazette's finishing could nonetheless do with refinement. He also scored twice as France laid down their marker against the Austrians, adding the gloss to a fine individual display

Dani Pacheco
Age 19
Nationality Spain
Club Liverpool
Position Striker

Nicknamed 'the Assassin' due to his predatory instincts around the opposition penalty area, Pacheco joined Liverpool in 2007, becoming part of their youth and reserve set-up. However, the attacker has been part of the club's first-team operations since December last year. An exciting, forward-thinking player, Pacheco has displayed the kind of ability in his time at Liverpool to get a crowd to its feet but has been known to ignore the pleas of team-mates for passes. He came through the youth ranks of Barcelona before being spirited away from Camp Nou by the Reds' scout, Eduardo Macia. Pacheco decided the Iberian derby against Portugal on matchday two with two well-taken goals.



David Alaba
Age 18
Nationality Austria
Club Bayern Munich
Position Midfielder

A versatile prospect, Vienna-born Alaba made his debut for Bayern in February 2010, benefitting from Louis Van Gaal's preference to promote young talent from within. That bow came in the DFB Pokal but only weeks later he was in at the deep end against Fiorentina in the Champions League. A modest, hard-working and diligent player, Alaba has proven his adaptibility at club level, featuring at left-back at well as in midfield. Staff at FC Hollywood have been impressed with Alaba's maturity and willingness to learn. Captain of this representative team, he already has full international honours for Austria to his name; the youngest player to do so. His time at this level could well be up with the Austrians already out of the running.

Antoine Griezmann
Age 19
Nationality France
Club Real Sociedad
Position Winger

A late-bloomer in international terms due to his presence in the Real Sociedad ranks since 2005, Griezmann only made his under-19 debut earlier this year. However delayed his appearence in les Bleuets ranks may have been, there can be no doubting his experience at club level. Since moving to San Sebastian at the age of 14, the winger has already become integrated in first-team duties and played a key-role in helping the Erreala gain promotion, playing 39 times and weighing in with six goals. Towards the end of the season he signed a five-year contract with the club which has a minimum fee clause of €30m inserted. That, Sociedad hope, will be enough to ward off reported interest from the likes of Lyon, Arsenal and Manchester United. He plundered two goals as the French hammered Austria on matchday two and also contributed a tidy assist for Lacazette.



Luc Castaignos
Age 17
Nationality Netherlands
Club Feyenoord
Position Striker

An impressive under-17 championship two years ago alerted clubs across the continent to potential of Castaignos, who comes from French and Cape Verdean parentage. The forward was linked to Chelsea last year after making his debut for the Rotterdam side, despite his tender years. Although he played only three Eredivisie matches last season, 2010-11 is expected to be his breakout year. He is renowned for his pace, accurate shooting and elegant technique but perhaps needs to work on his heading.  At Feyenoord they still are traumatised by losing Robin van Persie so young, so they are hoping to keep Castaignos a little while longer.



Iker Muniain
Age 17
Nationality Spain
Club Athletic Bilbao
Position Attacker

The record breaker. At a club renowned for turning out stupendous talent at a prodigous rate, it is a high honour to be the youngest player ever to feature in the first team. That honour goes to the electric Iker Muniain. In July 2009, he played in the Europa League qualifier against Young Boys at the age of only 16 and seven months. A week later he scored his first goal for the club in the return leg, earning the title of Bilbao's youngest goalscorer in history. He went on to become the youngest player and scorer in La Liga history during his impressive breakout season for the Basque side. A linker who is adept at providing goals as well as scoring them, some are already comparing him to Lionel Messi.



Gael Kakuta
Age 19
Nationality France
Club Chelsea
Position Attacker

The man at the centre of the Premier League's infamous 2009 tapping up case has been as well known for his off-field travails as his on-field contributions during his short career thus far. The player described as 'a phenomenon' by a former trainer in his youth facility moved from RC Lens to Chelsea in 2007 and soon won the Academy's player of the year award. He has already taken his Champions League bow, playing against APOEL last December, and was described by Carlo Ancelotti as the team's 'only positive' of the night. Kakuta is an attacker with searing pace and effortless technique; he has all the raw material to succeed with a club as big as Chelsea.
Kakuta was central to France's opening day win over The Netherlands, scoring the first goal, and seems a cut above other players at these finals.

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