Goal runs through the young talents that could easily earn a money-spinning switch to one of the game’s biggest clubs if they impress in Poland
Luis Figo, Xavi and Andrea Pirlo are just three of the many legendary players to have graced the UEFA European Under-21 Championship down through the years.
As such, the world’s top clubs always take a particularly keen interest in the tournament and this summer’s games in Poland will be no different.
So, who will all of the scouts be setting their sights on when the action gets under way on Friday?…
HECTOR BELLERIN (Barcelona)
As previously reported by Goal, the Arsenal ace is Barcelona’s primary target to fill their troublesome right-back berth and it now seems increasingly likely that Bellerin will rejoin the Blaugrana sooner rather than later.
The Masia product has openly admitted that he endured a difficult season, on and off the pitch, with his loved ones even returning to Catalunya for “family reasons”.
Bellerin could follow suit but Barcelona’s primary target is Marco Verratti, and only after this transfer has been finalised one way or another will they turn their attentions to Bellerin. Managing to agree a fee with Arsenal could also prove tricky, given the Spaniard is under contract until 2023.
DOMENICO BERARDI (Roma or Inter)
Few players turn down the chance to join Juventus, but when the Old Lady came calling last summer, Domenico Berardi politely rejected her advances, explaining that he wanted to stay at Sassuolo, whom he had helped qualify for Europe for the first time in the club’s history.
The 22-year-old’s campaign was ultimately interrupted by injuries, while there are ongoing doubts over his temperament, but this versatile if volatile attacker has long looked ready to make a step up in class and he has been very open about the fact that he would dearly love to join Inter, the club he supported as a child. However, a transfer to Roma now looks more likely with the coach who developed him at Sassuolo, Eusebio Di Francesco, now taking over in the Eternal City and hoping to replace the outgoing Mohamed Salah with his protege.
FEDERICO BERNARDESCHI (Juventus or Inter)
Twenty-seven years after losing Roberto Baggio to Juventus, Fiorentina could be about to lose another wonderfully talented No.10 to their most hated rivals.
Long considered one of Italy’s most promising young talents, the elegant attacker, who can play out wide or as a trequartista, has gone to another level over the past 12 months, adding goals to the creativity which has long been his trademark.
Consequently, Juventus are looking at the player who hails from Carrara, the same town as club captain Gianluigi Buffon – although Douglas Costa is the primary objective as Juve’s first wing signing. However, it is believed that Bernardeschi actually favours a move to Inter, who are hoping to overhaul their attack this summer.
GERARD DEULOFEU (Barcelona)
It has taken a while but the former teenager sensation who had his head turned by comparisons with Lionel Messi looks finally capable of fulfilling his enormous potential.
The 23-year-old’s future looked bleak after he was discarded by Everton in January, after manager Ronald Koeman had openly questioned his work-rate but he was revitalised by a loan move to Milan, with his sensational form at San Siro even earning his a second Spain cap – three years after his first.
Barcelona are considering to bring him back to Camp Nou by enacting the €12 million buy-back clause they inserted in the deal that saw him leave Catalunya for Merseyside in 2015. However, the player himself has the power to reject a return, and may yet do so as he is concerned about a lack of playing time given the presence of Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar.
GIANLUIGI DONNARUMMA (PSG)
‘The new Gigi Buffon’ is a Milan fan and the club’s new owners are desperate to found their project upon teenager goalkeeper’s broad shoulders.
However, Donnarumma’s agent is none other than Mino Raiola and talks to renew the wonderkid’s contract – which expires in 2018 – have been fraught with problems as Raiola has demanded a release clause to be inserted in his new deal.
A host of Europe’s big clubs are interested in the goalkeeper, but realistically only Paris Saint-Germain are looking to sign a new No.1 this summer.
SANDRO RAMIREZ (Everton)
Atletico Madrid’s hopes of signing the Malaga forward may have been ended by their transfer ban but several Premier League clubs remain very interested in the 21-year-old attacker who netted 14 times in La Liga last season, including one fine strike against Barcelona that played a pivotal role in his former club failing to win the title.
Sandro insists that he is not thinking about his future and is fully focused on Spain’s Under-21 Euros campaign but he knows that if he takes his fine domestic form with him to Poland, he is going to be inundated with lucrative offers from England, with Everton said to be leading a chase for his signature that also includes Tottenham and Southampton.
RENATO SANCHES (Manchester United)
Bayern Munich boss Carlo Ancelotti insists that Renato Sanches will get more opportunities to play next season but one wonders if that will be enough to satisfy the Portuguese, who openly admitted that he needs more game time, after managing just six starts during the 2016-17 Bundesliga campaign.
There is talk that the all-action midfielder will be allowed to go out on loan for a year but a stellar showing in Poland might well be enough to convince Manchester United to make a permanent move for a player that they tried desperately to sign last summer before he agreed to move to Bavaria in a deal worth a potential €80m.
PATRIK SCHICK (Juventus)
Inter were desperate to sign one of the surprise success stories of the 2016-17 Serie A season, with 11 goals from just 14 starts, but technical director Walter Sabatini admitted last month that the Sampdoria striker had already agreed to join Juventus.
While the deal hasn’t been officially confirmed yet, Goal understands that a transfer to Juve for the ‘new Ibrahimovic’ has been completed with the Bianconeri to pay his buy-out clause of €25m. He will stay in Genoa for another year or immediately move to Turin to compete with Gonzalo Higuain for a starting berth.
INAKI WILLIAMS (Borussia Dortmund)
Given his love for Athletic Bilbao, there is little chance of Inaki Williams forcing a move away from his native Basque Country but the forward – who has a €50m buy-out clause – has made little secret of his desire to play Champions League football.
Liverpool have long been linked with the pacy and versatile 22-year-old attacker, who has already been capped at senior level by Spain, while Borussia Dortmund have also identified Williams as a potential replacement for want-away striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.