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Which Country Has the Best Young Talent in Europe?

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England's depth is tough to beat

The amount of talent England have under 23 years old is astonishing, and whilst only time will tell if it beats the 'Golden Generation' in terms of ability, it certainly has triumphed in regards to more depth.

In the last few seasons, Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold has cemented himself as one of the best young players in Europe and arguably the best right-back around and he is helping to redefine what is expected of the modern full-back. The 22-year-old still has his best years ahead of him and will only continue to improve, having provided 13 assists in Liverpool’s title-winning season.

The next two that will surely cement themselves as England regulars are Manchester pair, Mason Greenwood and Phil Foden. United’s Greenwood burst onto the scene last season and has already appeared for his country. City’s Foden has been instrumental in guiding his boyhood club to the top of the league this season and has filled the void left by club legend David Silva

Another under 23 talent for Southgate’s consideration is Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka, who has scored more goals than any other teenager in the Premier League this season, off the back of 11 assists in 2019/20. The 19-year-old has emerged as a key player for Mikel Arteta and his versatility will only benefit him going forward.

Then there are the likes of Jadon Sancho, who continues to fly the flag in the Bundesliga with 44 goals and 59 assists in 128 Borussia Dortmund appearances. At the same time, sticking with those under 23, Gareth Southgate has a plethora of talent in midfield as well with the likes of Mason Mount and Declan Rice both arguably outperforming everyone at their respective clubs this season, whilst Jude Bellingham, like Sancho, continues to impress with Dortmund at 17, just as Curtis Jones carries on as an important figure for Liverpool's future at 20.

It is also pretty easy to forget just how young some of England's talented youngsters are, as they've already been around for so long, with the likes of Callum Hudson-Odoi still just 20, whilst Ryan Sessegnon is too, just as the likes of Reece James edge closer to 22.

On the other hand, at the age of 23, England boast a frightening amount of ready-to-go talent. Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Tammy Abraham, Ben Godfrey, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Dean Henderson, Harvey Barnes and Marcus Rashford are all at this age, whilst even the likes of James Maddison, Luke Shaw, Jack Grealish and Ben Chilwell are all under the age of 25.

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Win Euro 2021 & World Cup 2022 @ 50/1

Mbappe to fly the flag as the likes of Pogba edge closer to 30

Considering he is already a global superstar, it's sometimes easy to forget that Paris Saint-Germain's Kylian Mbappe is still only 22. Fresh off the back of a hat-trick at the Nou Camp, Mbappe is being tipped as a future Ballon d’Or winner, having already won and scored in a World Cup final aged 19 and the Frenchman is the favourite to win the prestigious individual award this year.

France also boasts Bayern Munich-bound Dayot Upamecano, who attracted interest from all over Europe before agreeing to a move to Germany, and he remains one of the best under 23 defensive talents in the world. At just 22, Upamecano has impressed with his commanding performances for RB Leipzig in the Bundesliga and looks to be the future of central defenders.

Much of France's young talent that was on show at their 2018 World Cup triumph is still relatively young, with the likes of Kinglsey Coman just 24 and Ousmane Dembele 23, whilst Upamecano's RB Leipzig partner, Ibrahima Konate, is only 21.

With World Cup stars like Samuel Umtiti, Paul Pogba, Kurt Zouma, Raphael Varane and co. all over the age of 25 now, Eduardo Camavinga at age 18 seems to be the next French star to take over Europe. Camavinga has already played and scored for France and looks set to be involved at Euro 2021, and although the likes of Houssem Aouar are up there with some of the brightest under 23 talents on the continent, Camavinga looks to be the man moving forward.

France's era of young talent has already been a success, but with Mbappe still just 22 and many stars yet to follow around this age, the French arguably have the best talent on show, it's just not as in-depth as it once as time has gone on.

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Spain's new wave looked impressive up top

Spain have struggled in tournaments since winning three in the space of four years between 2008-2012 and much of this has been down to the simple fact that their version of a golden generation has been and gone, with the likes of Xavi and Andreas Iniesta being simply irreplaceable.

However, 18-year-old Ansu Fati has been a sensation since making his debut for Barcelona two years ago and he is the youngest player to ever score for Spain. Fati has bagged 11 league goals in 31 appearances for his club before his 19th birthday, as they hope to have found the heir for Lionel Messi.

Manchester City winger Ferran Torres will be hoping he can continue the form he has shown for his country so far, having scored a sensational hat-trick in a 6-0 win over Germany. The competition for a starting place at City is high, but he has shown signs in his first season in England that he can reach the heights expected of him. He is still only 20, so there is plenty of time for Torres to learn from one of the world's best managers, Pep Guardiola.

More Barcelona stars like Riqui Puig and Pedri are yet to make an appearance for Spain, but alongside Mikel Oyarzabal, Eric Garcia and Torres, they are looked at as part of this new wave of young Spanish talent. Dani Olmo of RB Leipzig is still also only 23 and the likes of Rodri, Fabian and Sergio Reguilón are just 24, whilst Marco Asensio and Adama Traore are still just 25.

In reality, however, Spain's young talent is nothing in terms of both depth and ability on the French and English.

The German's lacking young firepower

Despite a slow start to life at Chelsea, Kai Havertz should still be considered as one of the finest prospects in Europe. The 21-year-old is the youngest player to reach both 50 and 100 Bundesliga appearances during his time at Bayer Leverkusen, scoring 36 goals in the process. During a transitional period for the 2014 world champions, Joachim Low may look to build his side around the midfielder, who has been compared to Mesut Ozil.

Another young attacking midfielder has come through the ranks at Bayer Leverkusen, Florian Wirtz, who has gained much media attention this season. Wirtz’ teammate Aleksandar Dragovic has stated that the 17-year-old can emulate the achievements of Kai Havertz, having broken the Chelsea man's record for youngest Leverkusen debutant.

The German's best years are seemingly behind them and they won't be heading into Euro 2021 as the favourites, nor really in the top three. However, they still possess a plethora of talent around the ages of 24 and 25 like Timo Wener and Serge Gnabry, making their chances at the 2022 World Cup and the 2024 European Championships much better.

On the other hand, in terms of young talent under 23, Germany are relying on the likes of Wirtz, Ridle Baku, Havertz and Jamal Musiala, who has recently declared he will represent Germany and not England, and similarly to the Spain, this is nothing on other nations.

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Portugal's chances of defending their crown have got even stronger

Back in 2016, Portugal were given an outside chance of winning Euro 2016, with very few young members coming through and with the likes of Pepe well past their expiry date. However, they triumphed and Portugal have since only got better.

Whilst much of the attention moving forward will be on the likes of Bruno Fernandes and Bernardo Silva, both of which are 26, it is easy to forget the Portuguese youngsters on the scene and how their chances at defending their Euro 2016 title are even greater.

Ruben Dias is one name that stands out as he continues to establish himself as one of the best defenders in the world already in just one season at Manchester City. The centre-back is just 23, and he is surely set to become a legendary figure in the Premier League if he carries on in this fashion.

Then there are the likes of Joao Felix who is finally excelling at Atletico Madrid this season at just 21, whilst the likes of Fabio Silva, Pedro Neto, Diogo Dalot, Rafael Leão, Gedson Fernandes and Francisco Trincão are all under the age of 23. At the same time, players like Diogo Jota, Ruben Neves, Renato Sanches are all still under the age of 25, making their chances at the next three major tournaments significantly stronger than what was the case prior to actually winning Euro 2016.

Portugal are perhaps the only nation that can rival England in terms of depth, and with regards to talent, they are also in with a shout of being that best on that front.

The Winner: England

In truth, there can only be one winner: England.

What the Three Lions have in both young talent under the age of 23 and ability from 23-25 is simply unrivalled across the globe. This has already been matched in England by winning the U19 World Cup, U17 World Cup and U20 European Championships in the last four years, meaning that much of these players like Foden are now in the first team.

Similarly to the German World Cup win in 2014, much of their squad throughout that triumph had won the World Cup at youth level years prior, and England now need to work with a similar approach to make sure that this excellence down in the youth ranks translates to silverware in the senior squad.

Even with the likes of Harry Kane still just 27, England's best years could be ahead of them, but in terms of young talent, players like Sancho are already amongst the world's best and as a result, nobody comes close to them.

By Luke Feather