20 Jun 19
UEFA’s European Under-21 Championship is well under way in Italy.
The first round of fixtures have taken place with the hosts beating Spain, France coming from behind to win against England, and Romania thrashing Croatia.
England’s Young Lions were unlucky against France but ultimately lost 2-1
There are still two more group stage games for every nation and Premier League clubs are going to be watching carefully with transfer targets on show in every match.
But who is the one player your team’s spies should be keeping an eye on?
Here at talkSPORT.com we’ve taken a long hard look and pinpointed the Under-21 starlet they should be watching.
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Arsenal – Dani Ceballos (Spain and Real Madrid)
A lovely goal in his nation’s opening match will have woken up a few clubs sleeping on the 22-year-old’s availability.
He fell out of favour under Zinedine Zidane and is almost certain to leave the Spanish capital.
Playing towards the left in central midfield, he could be a good option, especially with Matteo Guendouzi still needing time to acclimatise to life in the Premier League.
With Aaron Ramsey leaving he could balance out the Gunners’ central area.
He also got an assist for Pablo Fornals against Belgium.
Ceballos already has six senior caps for Spain
Aston Villa – Robert Gumny (Poland and Lech Poznan)
Linked with Celtic already this window, it’s likely Gumny will move clubs this summer.
The Villans would be wise to pick up the 21-year-old, especially as their current right-back, Ahmed Elmohamady, is now over 30 and hardly set the Premier League alight in his younger days with Hull City.
Gumny didn’t feature against Belgium or but may see more time on the pitch later in the tournament.
Karol Fila, of Lechia Gdansk, who started ahead of him in that game is worth looking at too.
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Bournemouth – Philip Billing (Denmark and Huddersfield Town)
The Terriers may have been relegated last term but Danish ace Billing showed he has the potential to remain in the Premier League.
The rangy all-rounder, 22, could be available at a cut-price fee due to Huddersfield’s demotion.
Some were critical of his display against Germany but he should be in for a better time in his next two games.
Philip Billing was a regular starter for Huddersfield and did well despite their relegation
Brighton and Hove Albion – Milan Gajic (Serbia and Red Star Belgrade)
A move to Boreaux after his role in the 2015 Under-20 World Cup didn’t quite work out and he’s now back in his homeland.
The transfer went through in February so this is perhaps a deal for January or even next summer but the 23-year-old right-back is worth monitoring at the very least.
Milan Gajic in action for Serbia’s Under-20s
Burnley – Vlad Dragomir (Romania and Perugia)
While on the books at Arsenal, Arsene Wenger compared Dragomir to Jack Wilshere.
He left the Gunners last summer and has done well in Serie B with Perugia.
A strong yet skilful midfielder, he’s confident on both sides of the ball and isn’t afraid to get stuck in while pressing opponents. He’d certainly fit into Sean Dyche’s hard working side.
Vlad Dragomir during his time at Arsenal
Chelsea – Xaver Schlager (Austria and RB Salzburg)
With their transfer ban still in place, any scouted players won’t be signed this summer but the Blues should definitely keep their eyes peeled for the Austrian.
A stocky but nimble central midfielder, Schlager is a fine ball progresser with nice dribbling, and some excellent tricks up his sleeve.
In defensive phases he’s also a good positionally and if he does get into trouble he times tackles well – a fine all-rounder aged just 21.
He’s already made his debut for the senior Austria side too, scoring against Northern Ireland in the UEFA Nations League.
Schlager’s ability also earned him praise from Marko Arnautovic.
Xaver Schlager celebrates scoring for RB Salzburg
Crystal Palace – Jean-Philippe Mateta (France and Mainz)
Five British clubs have, reportedly, all seen bids for the striker rejected this transfer window already and it’s no surprise after his season in the Bundesliga either.
His 14 goal Bundesliga haul in his debut season, accompanied by three assists, showed the potential which had Fiorentina and Tottenham linked with him before his move to Lyon in 2016.
Blessed with pace and skill to complement his powerful frame, he could really trouble Premier League defences.
Able to guide his headers well and composed in front of goal he could be an outstanding pickup.
He didn’t start against England but came on and flicked the ball goalwards for his nation’s winner.
Jean-Philippe Mateta celebrates France’s winner
Everton – Timo Baumgartl (Germany and Stuttgart)
With 2018/19 loan star Kurt Zouma unlikely to return to Goodison Park due to the transfer ban at parent club Chelsea, a defender should be on Marco Silva’s radar.
Baumgartl may have been relegated to the second division in Germany this season but he’s still well-rated.
A right-sided centre-back, the German can also play on the left of a pair, he would be available for a decent fee.
Baumgartl in action for Germany Under-21s
Leicester City – Robert Skov (Denmark and Copenhagen)
The left-footed right winger may well be excellent competition for Marc Albrighton.
Last season, the 23-year-old scored 32 goals and made 10 assists in all competitions across 48 games, which is some going.
Look out for his excellent play-switching passes, while his powerful runs, rather than technique, make him a dribbling force. He takes a decent free-kick too.
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Liverpool – Nicolo Barella (Italy and Cagliari)
Previously likened to Steven Gerrard, Barella might be a smart addition for Jurgen Klopp.
Able to play in several roles in central midfield, the 22-year-old has progressed well with Cagliari and is now ready for a step up.
He wouldn’t get starts upon signing for the Reds but could fulfil his potential at Anfield as a versatile No.8 who is comfortable receiving the ball deep, out wide, or in between the lines.
Barella has been linked with moves to Liverpool and Chelsea
Manchester City – Federico Chiesa (Italy and Fiorentina)
Having scored twice in his nation’s 3-1 win over Spain in their first group game, Chiesa is already impressing.
An exquisite touch prior to his first goal had football fans across Europe cooing.
Now Fiorentina’s ownership issues have eased with a takeover it might be tough to pick up the winger.
Owner Rocco Commisso has insisted he would not sell Federico Chiesa, ‘not even for €100million.
One of Chiesa’s goals went viral
THAT TOUCH. THAT FINISH.
Italy’s Federico Chiesa 🤯🤯 pic.twitter.com/YrhcCMD0GK
— Soccer AM (@SoccerAM) June 17, 2019
Manchester United – Dayot Upamecano (France and RB Leipzig)
Able to play in a four-man or a three-man defence and on the left or on the right, Upamecano is a superb talent.
With Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in desperate need of a new player in this position, he would be mad not to be looking at Frenchman, no matter what he would cost.
Not only does his strength mean he sees off opponents with ease but he’s technically gifted and reads the game well.
He showed his talents against England with a fine performance carrying the ball out from the back.
Upamecano is a powerful and quick defender
Newcastle United – Jay Dasilva (Chelsea and England)
The Magpies may well be looking for a new left-back this summer and Dasilva might just be the ticket.
Many are put off by his size (5ft 7in) but he’s talented in possession and would allow Matt Ritchie to play in a more familiar midfield role.
Spells at Charlton and Bristol City have toughened him up and he could either join the latter permanently or give the Premier League a shot in a one-year loan.
He lacks a little in defensive situations, as he showed against France, but looked fine going forward.
Dasilva couldn’t halt Jonathan Ikone for France’s first goal
Norwich City – Andrei Radu (Romania and Inter Milan)
On loan at Genoa last term, the goalkeeper over performed his expected conceded goals.
Radu let in just 1.13 times per game compared to the 1.24 one model predicted, so might be a wise pickup if he becomes available.
The Canaries could do with a young goalkeeper and while he isn’t the biggest, he makes good decisions, often staying on his line rather than charging out in one-on-one situations.
Radu might be the long-term answer for Norwich City
Sheffield United – Kieran Dowell (Everton and England)
Having spent the season on loan at Bramall Lane last year, the Blades should keep an eye on him and possibly pick him up again.
A £6million bid could, reportedly, see him join permanently and it could be a bargain deal for the 21-year-old.
We’re sure Chris Wilder is keeping tabs though.
Dowell is tackled by England team-mate Jay Dasilva
Southampton – Krystian Bielik (Poland and Arsenal)
He may have been playing League One football with Charlton last season but Bielik still showed his talents.
The Addicks earned promotion to the Championship via the play-offs and it helped having the Pole, capable of playing at either centre-back or defensive midfield.
His technical attributes stand out and against Belgium he completed all 10 of the long balls he attempted, while he was also successful with all three dribbles he went on.
Bielik can dominate aerially too so may be an intriguing option for Ralph Hasenhuttl.
He got his nation’s winning goal against Italy in their second game of the tournament volleying home superbly after a blocked free-kick.
Bielik teases Arsenal team-mate Reiss Nelson
Tottenham Hotspur – Nicolo Zainolo (Italy and Roma)
A poor game against Spain saw him play just two passes, while he played just nine minutes against Poland, so he will be looking to impress against and Belgium.
It’s reported interested clubs will have to spend around £63million to land the 19-year-old.
Last season he managed six goals and two assists across all competitions as he showcased his strength and skill in the final third.
He needs another season of growth before some will be convinced, so scouts will be watching closely in Italy, for better or for worse.
Zaniolo needs to prove he’s worth the figures being quoted for him
Watford – Nikola Milenkovic (Serbia and Fiorentina)
You feel the Hornets are one centre-back away from being a bona fide top eight club.
Milenkovic has previously been linked with Manchester United and other top six clubs but La Viola’s poor end to the season may have seen his value diminish and made him gettable for Watford.
The Serbian is good in possession and doesn’t take opponents lightly. His size makes him good in the air, while he’s strong in the tackle too.
His positioning and his excellent reading of the game make him great at intercepting the ball.
Fiorentina star Nikola Milenkovic in action.
West Ham United – Emil Audero (Italy and Sampdoria)
Another goalkeeper in Serie A who over performed his expected conceded goals, the ex-Juventus shot-stopper has come to the fore in Liguria.
Alex Meret started ahead of him against Spain and Poland but if he gets a chance then the Hammers should be looking out for the 22-year-old with stunning reflexes.
Given Lukasz Fabianski, while excellent, is now 34 and their other goalkeepers are also veterans, Audero would be a fine long-term successor in east London.
Audero had a fine Serie A season
Wolverhampton Wanderers – Orel Mangala (Germany and Hamburg)
Nuno Espirito Santo might be able to shore up his midfield this summer if he opts to look at Mangala.
Set to spend another campaign in the German second division, Wolves could pick a gem in the 21-year-old.
Last year he managed 2.4 tackles per 90 minutes and 1.8 interceptions, while making 2.3 successful dribbles and 0.9 key passes.
He’s definitely worth a look as far as we’re concerned.
Mangala will be playing second division football in Germany next season if he doesn’t move