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Five potential stars of the under-21 European Championships

Manchester United target Kevin Strootman could be one of the stars of the under-21 European Championships

Manchester United target Kevin Strootman could be one of the stars of the under-21 European Championships

This evening the under-21 European Championships kicks-off in Israel.

Some of the hottest young players in Europe will be appearing at the tournament. Eight of the continents top teams will compete for the trophy.

Here is a guide to some of the players that have the potential to make a major impact at the tournament:

Isco (Spain)

The former-Valencia playmaker is one of the most highly-rated players in Europe. The youngster played a key role in Malaga’s journey to the quarter-finals of the Champions League this season.

Isco was also part of the Malaga squad that qualified for Europe’s elite competition the previous season.

The 21-year-old claimed the title of FIFA golden Boy in 2012 and it probably will not be the last honour bestowed on the youngster in his career. His intelligence and vision is likely to earn him more awards in the future.

Isco’s good form last season attracted the interest of the likes of Real Madrid, Chelsea and Manchester United.

Although he had previously stated he wished to stay in Andalusia with Malaga, Isco has also stated he would again like to work under former-Malaga boss Manuel Pellegrini, who is set to take over at Manchester City. A move to the Premier League could be on the cards for the talented starlet.

Wilfried Zaha (England)

Touted as a potential superstar in the making Wilfried Zaha has the world at his feet. The youngster had been on the radar of some massive clubs from a young age, thanks to some virtuoso performances for Crystal Palace in the English Championship.

English champions Manchester United agreed to sign Zaha for £15million in January and loaned him back to Palace for the rest of the season. Zaha scored twice in the Championship play-off semi-finals and then in the final won the penalty that got Palace promoted to the top flight.

The European Championships could be a chance for the young winger to prove to new boss David Moyes that he is ready to play a big part for United next season. His trickery and pace would be a good asset for any team.

Marco Verratti (Italy)

The young deep-lying playmaker played a crucial part in PSG’s first Ligue One title in almost two decades. The 20-year-old only moved to the French capital last summer from Pescara, but he has wasted little time in establishing himself as one of the best midfielders in the French top flight.

The Italian international has been linked with a summer move back to his homeland with Juventus. However, the youngster’s agent has stated that he wishes to stay with PSG and is not interested in moving elsewhere.

Kevin Strootman (Holland)         

The 23-year-old PSV midfielder is one of the most experienced players at the tournament. Strootman has all the attributes to be a top central midfielder. He has superb passing ability and an aerial ability that befits his 6ft 1 inch frame.

The youngster is highly-rated after a series of impressing displays for PSV over the past few seasons. He is rated that highly in his homeland that he has already won 18 senior caps for the national side. Strootman is considered a future PSV captain, but is believed to have attracted the interest of English champions Manchester United.

A summer move looks like a major possibility and a good performance at the championships would boost Strootman’s chance of a big move.

Alan Dzagoev (Russia)

The mercurial CSKA Moscow star is just 22, but has been touted as a potential mega-star since he broke onto the scene half a decade ago. The highly-talented young Russia playmaker is already a stable of the full team having won 27 caps for his full national side.

In fact, the young midfielder was joint top scorer at Euro 2012. Dzagoev has never won a cap for the Russia under-21 side because his rise to prominence was so rapid, but he has been drafted into the squad to add flair to the young Russia squad.

Although, he has major talent there have been questions asked about his temperament and attitude towards the game.

Despite doubts over his temperament, Dzagoev is believed to be attracting the interest of Italian club Roma. Whether he stays in Russia may depend on what he does in Israel.

Who will be the star of the under-21 European Championship?

Wed 5 June, 2013
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