Ones to watch

6 potential breakout stars of Euro 2024

We look at some of the young players ready to make a mark on the tournament.

london-uk-07th-june-2024-anthony-gordon-of-england-looks-on-england-v-iceland-international-football-friendly-match-at-wembley-stadium-in-london-on-friday-7th-june-2024-editorial-use-only-pic Anthony Gordon. Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

Anthony Gordon (England)

It seems very unlikely that Gordon will be in the starting line-up for England’s opening game against Serbia, but it is entirely plausible that Gordon becomes an important player for England as the tournament goes by, even if that’s off the bench.

Included ahead of Marcus Rashford, Gordon will offer a direct and counter-attacking threat off the left, which is something England are otherwise lacking:  either Jude Bellingham or Phil Foden are likely to be accommodated in that position. 

But Gordon’s directness may be a vital asset against the top sides in the tournament, and he will offer a genuine goal threat. Eleven goals and 10 assists was an hugely impressive return in his debut season for Newcastle. He brings more intensity that Rashford, and, for instance, is more willing to gamble and attack the far post in hope of a tap-in. 

If England do indeed Get it Done, then it’s probable that Gordon will have played a vital role along the way. 

turkeys-arda-guler-is-challenged-by-croatias-mateo-kovacic-left-during-the-euro-2024-group-d-qualifying-soccer-match-between-turkey-and-croatia-at-bursa-metropolitan-stadium-in-bursa-turkey-tue Arda Guler (right). Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

Arda Guler (Turkey) 

Guler won’t need to use these Euros as a platform for a move to a bigger club: he is already at Real Madrid, who paid €20 million to recruit him from Fenerbahce last year. Injuries interrupted the first half of Guler’s maiden season at Madrid, but scored six goals in the 10 league games he played once he recovered from injury. 

Carlo Ancelotti has called Guler, still only 19, a “special talent”, and he will need to be to break into Madrid’s first-team, especially once Kylian Mbappe and Brazil’s Endrick are added for next season. 

He will be vital for Turkey this summer, however, as part of a very young team under Vincenzo Montella. Guler can play off the right of the attack or as a No.10. He is left-footed and his strengths are his ball-carrying and close control, while he also has a  penchant for goals: he has taken six shots on target in La Liga, and scored them all. 

file-georgia-goalkeeper-giorgi-mamardashvili-reacts-after-his-save-during-a-penalty-shootout-at-the-end-of-the-euro-2024-qualifying-play-off-soccer-match-between-georgia-and-greece-at-the-boris-paic Giorgi Mamardashvili. Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

Giorgi Mamardashvili (Georgia) 

Georgia’s star is obviously Khvicha Kvaratskhelia of Napoli, but they can also rely on 23-year-old goalkeeper Mamardashvili.

Now at Valencia, Mamardashvili saved Anastasios Bakasetas’ effort in the shootout win over Greece in the play-off final that ultimately qualified Georgia for their first tournament as an independent nation. He was also part of the Georgian team that excelled at last year’s U21 Euros, finishing top of a group that featured Portugal, Belgium, and Netherlands. 

Mamardashvili’s shot-stopping ranks very well among the best goalkeepers across Europe’s top five leagues, and is reportedly of interest to all of Atletico Madrid, Chelsea, and Newcastle.  

No side at this tournament averaged less possession in qualifying than Georgia, so if they are to cause an upset in a group with Portugal, Turkey and Czech Republic, Mamardashvili will be vital. 

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Benjamin Sesko (Slovenia) 

Sesko is hardly an unknown name, given his has been a favourite of the BBC’s transfer gossip column for a year now. Arsenal and Borussia Dortmund are the latest to be linked with the RB Leipzig striker, who has a €65 million release clause and may use these Euros as evidence as to why it should be triggered. 

At 6′ 4″, the 21-year-old fits the increasingly template for a tall and physical number nine, but is extremely pacy too. He has already scored 11 goals in 28 international games for Slovenia, and a yield of 14 goals from 17 Bundesliga starts last season is impressive. 

Given the modern game has morphed so many players into a kind of midfielder, all-round strikers have become extremely valuable: Sesko snugly fits that profile. A group game against England will be the ideal stage on which to showcase his talents. 

warsaw-poland-07th-june-2024-georgiy-sudakov-of-ukraine-seen-in-action-during-the-friendly-match-between-poland-and-ukraine-at-peg-narodowy-final-score-poland-31-ukraine-photo-by-grzegorz-waj Georgiy Sudakov. Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

Georgiy Sudakov (Ukraine) 

Ukraine qualified through the play-offs having missed out on automatic qualification on goal difference only, finishing behind England and Italy. They have earned a kinder draw at the tournament, however, grouped with Belgium, Romania, and Slovakia. 

An ideal platform, then, for 21-year-old midfielder Georgiy Sudakov. He has already shone in the Champions League, scoring once in six appearances for Shakhtar Donetsk last season.

Sudakov has all the hallmarks of a modern number eight: he is an excellent ball-carrier with a strong defensive work ethic and a reasonably strong goal threat from outside the box. 

Napoli’s January efforts to sign him were forlorn, and Shakhtar expect Sudakov to move on for a small fortune after the Euros. 

spains-lamine-yamal-center-is-challenged-by-northern-irelands-jonny-evans-left-during-the-international-friendly-soccer-match-between-spain-and-northern-ireland-at-the-son-moix-stadium-in-palma Lamine Yamal (centre.) Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

Lamine Yamal (Spain) 

Irish fans may remember Yamal from last season’s U17 European Championship, where he scored in Spain’s quarter-final win over Ireland. He had already made his senior debut for Barcelona at that stage, and became a regular under Xavi last season. 

A lithe, quicksilver left-footer who plays off the right, Yamal is a luminous talent whose 17th birthday is on the eve of the final in Berlin. And if you want to feel particularly old: you’ll also realise that the last major tournament final staged in Berlin, the 2006 World Cup final, happened a year before Yamal was born.

He is a superstar in waiting, and one of Barcelona’s few reasons for optimism at the moment. 



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