The Euro 2021 finals are drawing closer and 24 national team coaches will use the May warm-up games to test few more footballers before they decide on the squad to take to the showpiece tournament. That means there is not a lot of time for uncapped players to stake their claim for their place in the final squad, but we now present you 25 footballers that have yet to win their first cap, but could still be on the plane to France.
1. Inaki Williams, Athletic Bilbao, Spain [Winger/Striker]
Only the depth of talent Spain national team has prevented him from representing his country so far. Wanted by a host of European giants, it was a major coup for Athletic to convince him to sign a new contract which keeps him at the new San Mames for a long term. A hard working winger with an eye for goal, it will not be a surprise if Del Bosque selects him ahead of some established names. Apart from his usual position on the wing, his ability to play in Spain’s problematic position, up front, may serve as an added incentive for Del Bosque to include him in his squad.
2. Gabi, Atletico Madrid, Spain [Midfielder]
Being the captain of a big team like Atletico Madrid, it is a surprise to see Gabi without a single cup for his country. The retirement of Xavi and Xabi Alonso and the fitness problems of Cazorla and Thiago Alcantara may pave the way for the long overdue recognition for this midfield enforcer.
3. Héctor Bellerín, Arsenal, Spain [Right Back]
The former Barca youth team player is having an outstanding season for Arsenal. Atletico Madrid’s Juanfran and Real’s Danny Carvajal may be the front runners to take the right back position, but this young full back can push them all the way to the final date of selection.
4. Saúl Ñiguez, Atletico Madrid, Spain [Midfielder]
Another youngster having outstanding season, Saul is a midfield all-rounder who is wanted by some of the biggest clubs in Europe. Only the depth in quality of the Spanish midfield can prevent him from going to the Euro 2021.
5. Jorginho, Napoli, Italy [Defensive midfielder]
The recent reports suggest that the Italian national team manager Anthonio Conte is contemplating with the idea of dropping Andrea Pirlo and Daniel De Rossi from the Euro squad. The catalyst for this decision may be the form of Napoli midfielder Jorginho. Born in Brazil and joined Helas Verona at age 15, Jorginho may be the future of Italy.
6. Federico Bernardeschi, Fiorentina, Italy [Playmaker, Winger]
More Brazilian than Italian for his style of play, this flamboyant midfielder is a joyful footballer to watch and it is not a surprise he is on Barca’s radar. He is the answer for the kind of player Italy has lacked in recent years.
7. Alessio Romagnoli, Milan, Italy [Center-back]
Dubbed the new Nesta by many, this young center back is helping continue Italy’s fine tradition of producing quality defenders. The €25 million Milan spent on the talented 20-year-old tells its own story.
8. Domenico Berardi, Sassuolo, Italy [Striker/Winger]
Had he joined the Italian giants Juventus last summer, he would have a definite chance of going to Euro 2021. But that doesn’t mean playing for a small club like Sassuolo will jeopardize his chances. Consistently linked with a move away from Stadio Mapei he may well end up in Manchester or Juventus come next June. He may be the reason why Mario Balotelli is not going to France.
9. N’Golo Kanté, Leicester, France [Defensive Midfielder]
If Leicester City is the story of the season so far, the individual accolade should go to Jamie Vardy and Ngolo Kante. The French midfielder slotted in well quickly and produced scintillating performances in the middle of the park. The French national team manager Didire Deschamps recently stated that he is following this player of Malian origin with the view of calling him to his squad. This may be bad news for Morgan Schneiderlin of Manchester United and Geoffrey Kondogbia of Inter.
10. Thomas Lemar, Monaco, France [Midfielder]
He began his Monaco career in outstanding way, resulting in people starting to think that he may have an outside chance of making it to France Euro squad. But injury and the form shown by Lassana Diarra and N’Golo Kante makes it even difficult for him for now. But he is definitely one to watch for the future.
11. Vincent Koziello, Nice, France [Midfielder]
The little maestro is on Arsène Wenger’s radar due to the outstanding form shown for his club Nice. There may be some more experienced candidates ahead of him but Deschamps is known to have dropped out-of-form players regardless of their status in the past and he may spring a surprise by adding Kozielo to his Euro squad.
12. Alphonse Aréola, Villarreal, France [Goalkeeper]
Hugo Lloris is for now and Aréola is for the future. Playing for Villarreal on loan from PSG, Aréola is a young goalkeeper with a lot of promise. He has already been called by Deschamps to the France national team but yet to play he is most certain to be third choice in the tournament.
13. Troy Deeney, Watford, England [Striker]
Eligible to play for Jamaica and Ireland due to family connections, Deeney is holding up for a call from Roy Hodgson. Rooney, Vardy and Kane are currently leading the way and he himself recently admitted that there were more internationally experienced players ahead of him. But his outstanding form coupled with injuries and loss of form of his rivals, may see him board the plane to Euro. Or he may join the Reggae Boyz of Jamaica and rub shoulders with the likes of Messi and Neymar at the 2016 Copa America Centinario.
14. Scott Dann, Crystal Palace, England [Center-back]
A constant performer at club level in the toughest league of the world, it is a surprise to see Roy Hodgson continually overlooking him. But now it seems the perfect time to give him a chance at international level. With his current form there is no better English center half other than Chris Smalling and John Stones.
15. Danny Rose, Tottenham, England [Left-back]
His great club form coupled with injury to Luke Shaw and limited playing time of Kieran Gibbs at Arsenal means Rose has a realistic chance of going to the Euro. Previously called up to the full England squad but yet to make his debut, European Championships in France could be his first major tournament.
16. Marcus Rashford, Manchester United, England [Striker]
Exploded onto the scene with four goals in his first two games for global power house Manchester United, this young sensation’s season may bring yet another fairy tale on the international stage. England manger Roy Hodgson hasn’t ruled him out of his plans as he recently admitted. Don’t forget that Michael Owen and Wayne Rooney were given a chance to play at a big tournament at the age of 18 and Theo Walcott at 17.
17. Ralf Fährmann, Schalke, Germany [Goalkeeper]
Germany is blessed with high quality goalkeepers. Manuel Neuer is the undisputed number one but there are no fewer than eight goalkeepers vying each other to be his backups at the tournament. Marc-Andre ter Stegen (Barcelona), Bernd Leno (Bayer Leverkusen), Ron-Robert Zieler (Hannover), Kevin Trapp (PSG), Oliver Baumann (Hoffenheim), Timo Horn (Koln), Loris Karius (Mainz), and of course Ralf Fährmann. Recently linked with a move to Liverpool, he was unlucky his career has been affected by persistent injuries. Now he is back to his fitness and back to his best, he is pushing hard for a place in Germany’s Euro squad.
18. Niklas Süle, Hoffenheim, Germany [Center-back]
The retairment of Lahm and Mertesacker and injuries to Benedikt Höwedes of Schalke and Holger Badstuber of Bayern Munich, as well the fitness issues of Mats Hummels and Jérôme Boateng may be a concern for Germany. But they may get solace in the current form of 20-year-old Niklas Süle, who is attracting attention from Europe’s biggest clubs. Circumstances may bring his first international appearance sooner than expected.
19. Julian Weigl, Dortmund, Germany [Defensive Midfielder]
His slight frame is not ideal for a defensive midfield role but he compensates it by avoiding one to one challenges and concentrating on cutting off attacks. A graduate of the 1860 Munich academy, Weigl encountered no problems in adapting to life in the Bundesliga. Fitness issues of some of the established midfielders in the team means a national team call may come early for the BVB starlet.
20. Mitchell Weiser, Hertha Berlin, Germany [Right back/Right Winger]
Once highly regarded youngster Mitchell Weiser faded in subsequent years. A move to Bayern Munich for a young footballer is always difficult. He found it hard to make it at Bayern and last summer joined Hertha Berlin. He is one of the standout performers for high flying Hertha who are battling for a champion’s league place. As a result, Germany coach Joachim Low could hand Weiser his first cap in the near future.
21. Renato Sanches, Benfica, Portugal [Midfielder]
At the beginning of the season, he was virtualy unknown and playing in youth teams of Portuguese giant Benfica. Fast forward six months and Sanches could now command a transfer fee higher than any other teenager in history. Renato Sanches is an elegant midfielder who rose to prominence over night. Given a chance to shine by the new Benfica coach Rui Vitória, the 18-year-old took it exceptionally. The only question now is whether Portugal boss Fernando Santos will hand him a starting role rather than if he will be included in the squad.
22. Mário Rui, Empoli , Portugal [Left-back]
It seems this is his final season for Empoli. A number of higher clubs are enquiring about him. His strong club performance and the fitness issue of Fábio Coentrão may pave the way for his international inclusion.
23. Charly Musonda, Chelsea on loan to Betis, Belgium [Winger]
He is having outstanding season at Betis on loan from Chelsea. Skillful winger and delightful to watch, it is certain that he will have a magnificent career. Recently the Belgium national team manager Marc Wilmots was at the stands monitoring this highly rated youngster. One of the many players Chelsea sent on loan, he is a player who most definitely will make it at Stamford Bridge.
24. Youri Tielemans, Anderlecht, Belgium [Midfielder]
He has been around for a while in the limelight for a player so young, but this midfield all rounder had begun to make headlines so young. Only the fierce competition for places in Belgium squad prevented him from making his début. But it seems he will get his long overdue international recognition sooner rather than letter.
25. Victor Nilsson Lindelöf, Benfica, Sweden [Center-back]
Injury to club captain Luisão paved the way for the young defender to play regularly in a prestigious club like Benfica. This could be the catalyst for his international recognition as he will have a chance to show what he can do in the champion’s league and in Portugal top flight. Lindelof is being heavily tipped to be included in the Sweden Euro 2021 squad.