Now that the U21 Euros are over, let us have a look at seven of the best performers in the tournament.
ORJAN NYLAND (Norway)
Norway’s youngsters impressed in the tournament by making it through the group stages without suffering defeat before eventually falling to Spain in the semi-finals. Goalkeeper OrjanNyland was a key part of their progress to that stage and though he produced his best performance against la Roja, it wasn’t enough to keep his side in the competition. Norway may have lost 3-0 but the damage would have been far worse had it not been for Nyland, who made no less than nine saves in the match to keep his side in with a chance until the closing stages. The big clubs will no doubt have noticed him, if they had not been doing so earlier.
ASIER ILLARRAMENDI (Spain)
Real Sociedad midfielder AsierIllarramendiwasan unsung hero of Spain’s success. Sitting at the base of the winners’ midfield throughout the tournament, his ability to break up the play and feed his attacking team-mates made him one of the most consistent players on show in Israel. Arsenal are leading the chase for Illarramendi and believe that he would fit well alongside fellow Basque MikelArteta.The £10million-rated Real Sociedad defensive midfielder has been outstanding all season and has also attracted attention from Real Madrid.
Thiago was undoubtedly one of the stars of the tournament. Playing in a deeper role, the Barcelona starlet proved why he is one of the hottest commodities in this summer’s transfer market by showcasing his outstanding passing accuracy and creative instinct. The only thing lacking up until the final were goals and he more than made up for that against Italy with a sparkling hat-trick in a memorable performance. According to reports in Spain, he has already decided to leave Barcelona, with Manchester United and Bayern Munich reportedly the two clubs that have shown the most interest in him. Either club could seal his signature shortly by paying his €18 million buy-out clause before 31st July, after which his transfer fee will rise.
GEORGINIO WIJNALDUM (Netherlands)
Georginio Wijnaldum was a key contributor to Netherlands’ progress to the semi-finals. The PSV attacker lit up the group stages with two magnificent solo goals and was a constant threat playing from the right-hand side. It seems like GeorginioWijnaldum has been around forever given his early, early breakthrough, but he’s never threatened to truly deliver on his potential.His positive showings at the U-21 European Championships swayed many floating voters, displaying pace, power, awareness and an eye for goal.
Despite the form of Thiago, it was Isco who was named as Player of the Tournament. The Malaga star is on the move this summer and will have certainly added some value to his price-tag with a string of inspirational displays right through to the final, with his supreme goal against Norway in the semis one of many highlights. Isco dazzled and delighted throughout La Rojita’s showings in Israel, winning himself many admirers thanks to his silky, silky skills.Quick feet, quick mind: He can turn nothing into something and always produces a chance on goal. He lingers in clever areas and the ball just seems to find its way to him.
JO INGE BERGET (Norway)
There were plenty of better known wide players going into this tournament but not many of them impressed as much as Norway’s Jo IngeBerget. Part of a hugely energetic and highly talented crop of Norweigans, Berget’s role was critical in punishing the opposition on the counter. He did so best against England, where he caused all sorts of problems for Danny Rose and got himself on the score sheet in the process.
ALVARO MORATA (Spain)
Having been used as both a starter and a substitute over the course of the tournament, Alvaro Morata ended the competition winning the Golden Boot having by scoring four times.In the final, Morata also showed his creative capacities by creating Thiago’s goal to cap an outstanding individual tournament which has seen his stock rise significantly. He impressed with his off-the-ball movement and finishing throughout the competition. After saying he is now determined to play regular football next season and threatening to leave Real Madrid if the club sign a high-profile striker, the Bernabeu giants certainly have an important decision to make on his future.
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