Euro 2024: A Look at Spain’s Group of Brilliant Youngsters

Euro 2024 has been notable for many things during the Group Stage and has been a tournament that has been relished by the fans. Seeing packed stands full of real football supporters is a marked change from the staid affair of the Qatar World Cup and the last Euros, which were affected by the global health issues of the time. In addition, we have seen some brilliant football, several magnificent goals and plenty of late goals, surprises and excitement. And, at the time of writing, we haven’t even reached the knockout phase!

One of the other obvious talking points of the early stages of this European Championship is just how good Spain, and in particular their youngsters, have been. Luis de la Fuente’s men won all three of their group games in what was supposed to be the “group of death”. What’s more, they got the better of Italy, Croatia and Albania without conceding a single goal. The only teams to have done that previously – Italy last time around and Spain themselves in 2008 – went on to win the tournament.

England, meanwhile, have limped along despite – in the eyes of the UK media and many fans – having an unrivalled crop of young, attacking talent. However, whilst the focus in England is on Jude Bellingham, Phil Foden, Bukayo Saka, Cole Palmer, Eberechi Eze and Anthony Gordon, Spain have perhaps the best pool of young talent on the continent. More to the point, the Spanish players are actually showing it on the pitch too.

Lamine Yamal – 16 (at Tournament Start)

16-year-old Lamine Yamal (all ages given will be at the start of the tournament, although Yamal turns 17 the day before the final!) is the obvious place to start, even if he may not be the best of the bunch right now. The right-sided attacker, who has already played 10 times for Spain, is valued at €90m, but would not be sold for anything like that little and will almost certainly see his value soar in the next few months.

He played 50 times for Barca last term, managing seven goals and 10 assists. Those are incredible numbers for one so young, especially for a side that faced a lot of issues. His pace, balance, skill, trickery and lack of fear have been clear to see at Euro 2024 and he has been a joy to behold.

He has broken several records already in his career: he is the youngest person to play for Spain and the youngest to score for them. He is also the youngest player ever to score in a Euros qualifying game, the youngest to appear at the finals and also the most youthful to provide an assist.

Pedri – 21

At 21 Pedri is almost an old hand, and Euro 2024 is his third major tournament. He won the Golden Boy award in 2021, having been named in the Team of the Tournament at Euro 2020 and also been named that competition’s Young Player of the Tournament. He has already played over 100 times for Barcelona and 22 for Spain and his midfield brilliance makes him an obvious successor to the likes of Xavi and Andres Iniesta.

Born in Tenerife, he first played for Las Palmas before Barca signed him for a relative pittance in 2020. His intelligence, control, passing and game awareness mean he can operate almost anywhere in midfield and between the lines, but he is also disciplined and hardworking. Two-footed, confident and able to beat a man as well, he seems sure to be a fixture in this Spain team for 10 years or more.

Gavi – 19

Gavi, yet another midfield superstar who plays for Barca, is sadly missing from Euro 2024, but he is another who is set to shine for club and country for many years to come. He won the Golden Boy award 12 months on from teammate Pedri and, incredibly, already has 27 caps for Spain (and five goals) at the age of 19. Like Pedri, he is also a recipient of the Kopa Award, essentially the youth Ballon d’Or.

He is similar in style to Pedri, with both often likened to Barca legends Xavi and Iniesta. Gavi is a little more aggressive and probably more direct and also does more box-to-box work. He is a better dribbler of the ball and one might say that offensively he is more like Iniesta, rather than Pedri being closer to the metronomic style of Xavi, though that is a simplification.

Nico Williams – 21

Williams turns 22 two days prior to the final so is another who could be given the best (if belated) birthday present, if Spain can go all the way. Williams, who plays for Athletic Bilbao, is a super-fast wide player who can play on either flank, though usually prefers to cut in from the left. 16 games for Spain have yielded two goals but like all the others on this list, there is surely so much more to come.

He represented Spain at the 2022 World Cup, featuring in all four games, though mainly coming off the bench. He is now an established starter and a move to either the Premier League or one of Europe’s biggest clubs is surely around the corner, if not this summer then perhaps the next.

And on and on…

Spain have a true embarrassment of riches, with several other players we could have included. Ansu Fati is just 21 and has 10 caps to his name and appeared at the last World Cup. He did not make the squad for the Euros but he will come again.

One man who did make the squad was another young Barca star, Fermin Lopez. The attacking midfielder played 31 times in La Liga in 2023/24, registering eight goals, and is another huge talent. Yeremy Pino, another 21-year-old who occupies an attacking midfield role, turned down Barca and plays for Villarreal. He has two goals in 12 games for Spain but missed the squad for this tournament due to injury.

Beyond this group of players Spain also have many other promising youngsters. Among those there are even some defenders – we promise! The outcome of Euro 2024 is yet to be known, but Spain certainly look in with a great chance at the next World Cup and beyond!