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Euro U21 Championship: England, Spain & Portugal stars shine on the international stage

The 2023 Euro U21 Championship is now in the record books and several players demonstrated they will likely become future superstars.

The tournament was littered with standout performances and the players will be eager to continue in the same vein moving forward.

With that in mind, we look at some of the players who made a lasting impression with their displays in Romania and Georgia.

Sergio Gomez – Spain

Gomez looked keen to make his mark with Spain after struggling to break into the first team at Manchester City last season.

He bagged three goals and two assists in his five appearances at the tournament and looked a class act in a hugely talented team.

Gomez previously won the U17 and U19 Euro titles with Spain and was unlucky not to add a U21 winners’ medal to his haul this summer.

Noni Madueke – England

While Madueke failed to get his name on the scoresheet, he played a key role in England’s success this summer.

He was the star of the show in their 2-0 group stage victory over Germany, giving their full-back no end of trouble during his time on the pitch.

Madueke has found game time hard to come by with Chelsea, but he undoubtedly deserves to be handed more opportunities given his performances at the U21 Euros.

Raoul Bellanova – Italy

Italy failed to cover themselves in glory at the tournament, losing two of their three games to finish third behind France and Switzerland in Group D.

However, Bellanova emerged with plenty of credit in a wing-back role, providing the team with plenty of energy and quality down the right flank.

Bellanovahas signed for Torino, but they will likely be a stepping stone to bigger and better things over the next few years.

Abel Ruiz – Spain

Ruiz looked hugely promising for Braga last season, bagging eight goals and six assists in 34 appearances to help them finish third in the Primeira Liga.

He transferred that form onto the international stage, netting three times for Spain as they finished runners-up at the tournament.

Ruiz missed the crucial penalty in the final against England, but that should not detract from his overall contribution this summer.

Castello Lukeba – France

Lukeba enjoyed an eventful tournament with France but undoubtedly looks to be a player with a massive future ahead of him.

He controversially denied Bellanova a goal in France’s victory over Italy before producing a defensive masterclass against Norway.

The 20-year-old has been tipped to replace Josko Gvardiol at RB Leipzig – they will be getting an excellent defender if they secure his services.

Zuriko Davitashvili – Georgia

Co-hosts Georgia finished top of Group A ahead of Portugal, Netherlands and Belgium to book an unlikely quarter-final clash with Israel.

Davitashvili was their top attacking threat, causing endless problems for opponents with his ability to find pockets of space on the pitch.

His solo goal against the Netherlands was one of the best in the tournament, and the attacking midfielder is a star in the making.

Joao Neves – Portugal

Neves announced his arrival on the international stage with three excellent performances during the opening phase of the tournament.

His superb volley against Belgium helped send Portugal through to the quarter-finals and put the world on notice that he is an exceptional talent.

He has been linked to a possible move to Manchester United, although it’s going to take money the club don’t seem to have to prise the player away from Benfica.

James Trafford – England

The final player who caught our eye at the tournament is the man who ensured England lifted the trophy – James Trafford.

He showed nerves of steel to deny Ruiz with a last-minute penalty save and hand the Young Lions their first U21 triumph since 1984.

Trafford became the first goalkeeper in history to win the Euro U21 tournament without conceding a goal – England have a lot to thank him for.

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