Major tournaments have the ability to propel a young player to superstardom like no other footballing event.

Take Wayne Rooney at Euro 2004 or Renato Sanches at Euro 2016. Longevity at the top of the game is never guaranteed, but there is no better platform to announce yourself.

Ahead of Euro 2024, we have selected 10 young players primed to have a breakout tournament in Germany.

These are the stars we think could be Next Up.

Florian Wirtz

Nation: Germany
Age: 21
Position: Attacking midfielder, winger
Caps: 18 (1 goal)
Club: Bayer Leverkusen

Florian Wirtz missed the 2022 World Cup with injury as Germany crashed out at the group stages, but this summer's tournament on home soil is the perfect setting for him to take centre stage.

Wirtz comes into Euro 2024 with big expectation on his shoulders, having emerged this season as one of Europe’s most exciting prospects, with 18 goals and 20 assists for Bayer Leverkusen, who stayed unbeaten en route to a domestic double.

The expectation is for Wirtz to remain with Xabi Alonso's side for another year, but there will be plenty of eyes on him to see how he copes with the step-up in scrutiny.

It was Jamal Musiala that announced himself in Qatar. This feels like it is Wirtz’s tournament. Euro 2024 being in Germany only adds to the sense that the stars are aligning for Wirtz to take charge.

AP Photo
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Lamine Yamal

Nation: Spain
Age: 16
Position: Winger
Caps: 7 (2 goals)
Club: Barcelona

Your eyes do not deceive you. Lamine Yamal is only 16 years old and heads to the Euros as one of the most exciting young players at the tournament. A left-footed right-winger playing for Barcelona, where have we heard that before?

  • Spain fixtures - when you can catch Yamal in action at Euro 2024
  • Yamal has already established himself as a key player in his debut campaign, registering seven goals and 10 assists, including Barca's goal of the season against Mallorca. He's expected to feature heavily for Spain in Germany.

    The big stage is no problem for Yamal, who has shone for club and country against top opposition. He thrives in one-v-ones and never tires of taking on his man. Expect fireworks from the teenager.

    Consistency is something of an issue owing to his age, but the Barcelona forward is more than capable of deciding a game in an instant, whether that be with a goal or a defence-splitting pass.

    Four assists in his last two international games (3-3 draw vs Brazil in March, 5-1 win vs Northern Ireland) suggest he could be in line to make a big impact in Germany, similar to that of Pedri for Spain at Euro 2020.

    Yamal turns 17 on the eve of the Euro 2024 final. What better way to celebrate your birthday than lifting your first international trophy and Spain’s first piece of silverware for 12 years.


    "I brought my homework because I am in the [last year of compulsory school].

    "I have classes online and I'm doing well. I hope the teacher doesn't suspend me!"

    Spain's Lamine Yamal, speaking to AS about the Euros

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    Benjamin Sesko

    Nation: Slovenia
    Age: 21
    Position: Striker
    Caps: 29 (11 goals)
    Club: RB Leipzig

    Benjamin Sesko was supposed to be headed to the Premier League this summer but instead passed on that interest and extended his deal with RB Leipzig.

    Sesko is certainly one to watch at Euro 2024 as he heads up a Slovenia attack that will be going head-to-head with England in Group C. The 21-year-old was linked with Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United, so there are sure to be plenty of eyes on him in Germany to see what all the fuss is about.

    It was a tough start to the season for Sesko at RB Leipzig, his first in the Bundesliga, but once he got going the striker really hit his stride. He comes into the Euros in red-hot form, having scored a goal in each of his final seven games, half his tally for the league season.

    Top strikers are thin on the ground in Europe and Sesko was thought to be a potential bargain due to a £55m release clause in his deal that was set to expire at the end of June. He appears to be off the market for now, however.

    RB Leipzig will be rubbing their hands together at the prospect of Sesko enjoying a breakout tournament after tying him down to new terms. Suddenly, the price could go right up for one of their most-prized assets, who heads into the tournament with a clear head and his future resolved.

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    Warren Zaire-Emery

    Nation: France
    Age: 18
    Position: Central midfielder
    Caps: 3 (1 goal)
    Club: Paris Saint-Germain

    Paris Saint-Germain believe Warren Zaire-Emery is their present and future. It’s difficult to see a world in which that is not soon the case for France, too.

    Losing Paul Pogba, banned until 2027 for a doping violation, and seeing N’Golo Kante transfer to Saudi Arabia, often the death knell for a player’s career at the top level, has opened the door to the next generation of France’s midfielders.

    Aurelien Tchouameni and Eduardo Camavinga are next in line, but Zaire-Emery isn’t far behind. He has started most of PSG’s matches this season and shown a maturity in midfield that belies his years, helping his boyhood club to a domestic double.

    The teenager became France’s third-youngest player and second-youngest goalscorer in November when he scored 16 minutes into his international debut, a 14-0 win over Gibraltar, and has gone from strength to strength since then.

    Zaire-Emery, a ball-playing midfielder, has been pulling the strings in Ligue 1 and ended the season with the highest passing accuracy of all midfielders in the division (92.4 per cent).

    He is likely to be an impact player at Euro 2024 with Didier Deschamps sticking with the old guard for now, but could elevate himself in the camp with a few impressive cameos this summer.

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    Xavi Simons

    Nation: Netherlands
    Age: 21
    Position: Attacking midfielder/winger
    Caps: 14 (1 goals)
    Club: Paris Saint-Germain

    Xavi Simons makes this list more in hope than expectation, with the 21-year-old yet to replicate his club form with the Netherlands.

    Simons - a highly creative midfielder capable of playing out wide - shone for PSV in the 2022/23 season before rejoining Paris Saint-Germain, who sent him on loan to RB Leipzig for the following campaign.

    Ten goals and 15 assists followed as Simons produced another impressive season, and he is being linked with some of Europe's biggest clubs amid uncertainty over whether he will return to PSG.

    Simons' struggles internationally saw him fail to record a goal or an assist in his first 13 games for the Oranje. However, he comes into the tournament fresh from breaking his duck in the Netherlands' 4-0 win over Iceland in their final warm-up game ahead of the Euros.

    Ronald Koeman's attack is a little lacking in stardust. If the manager can finally tease the best out of Simons, the Netherlands' chances of making an impact in Germany will increase significantly.

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    Rasmus Hojlund

    Nation: Denmark
    Age: 21
    Position: Striker
    Caps: 14 (7 goals)
    Club: Manchester United

    Rasmus Hojlund's debut season at Manchester United has been full of ups and downs. So often devoid of service, the young striker was left to fend for himself, but when he got going Hojlund looked dominant.

    The consensus seems to be that this is a player with big potential who wasn't helped by the environment at Old Trafford. He wouldn't be the first. Sixteen goals is a promising return for a 21-year-old in his first season in England.

    Euro 2024 becomes a very interesting tournament for him now.

    Hojlund's record for Denmark, a goal every other game, suggests we could see the best of him in Germany. He was also their top scorer in Euro qualifying with seven goals, one behind Harry Kane, the striker United set out to sign last summer before moving on to Hojlund because of his cheaper price.

    Denmark are in England's group at the Euros, handing Hojlund the chance to change the mind of a few naysayers.