Euro 2012: Youngsters Whose Name You May Not Know but Should

Aila StumpoCorrespondent INovember 23, 2011

Euro 2012: Youngsters Whose Name You May Not Know but Should

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    With all 16 participating teams decided, the much-awaited Euro Group Stage draw is soon coming to the Kiev Palace of Arts on December 2nd in the Ukrainian capital.

    There are a number of aspects in the upcoming competition which fans look forward to. Whether they be the excitement of seeing your National Team play, witnessing the clash styles or even just the ability to watch players from all over Europe battle it out and find the best.

    Of the unlimited number of great things in the Euro, one the best is seeing the young players. They give us a glimpse of the future of the country and the sport.

    Despite the squad lists still needing to be confirmed, here is a list of players below the age of 22 who you may or may not have heard of, but should look forward to seeing.

Dejan Lovren

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    Age: 22 (05/07/1989)

    Country: Croatia

    Before moving to Ligue 1 outfit Olympique Lyonnais, Zenica-born Lovren was an integral part of Dinamo Zagreb's 2008-09 Prva HNL and Croatian Cup (Hrvatski nogometni kup) win. 

    He was picked up by his current club in the January transfer window of 2009, making his international debut in August of that same year.

    A mainstay in the Lyon lineup, the central defender has played in five of Croatia's nine games, missing out on the playoff against Turkey due to a knee injury sustained against Real Madrid.

    The tall, strong Croatian will be one to watch for in the summer.

Alan Dzagoev

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    Age: 21 (17/06/1990)

    Country: Russia

    The Beslan-born attacking midfielder is a huge part of the CSKA Moskva midfield and, despite his age, the Russian midfield.

    In the season of his debut with CSKA Moskva, he won the Russian Premier League Young Player of the Year award. Since then, he has capped 76 times in the league, won the League Cup three times consecutively, won a Russian Supercup, and had a top 5 finish in the league every season.

    Debuting for Russia against Germany, he can read the game well and has a great amount of talent. Capping in eight out of 10 qualifiers for the Euro 2012, he has netted four times and assisted once.

Šime Vrsaljko

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    Age: 19 (10/01/1992)

    Country: Croatia

    It is rumoured among some that right back Vrsaljko has even more potiential than Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Luka Modric, both born in the coastal city of Zadar in Dalmatia.

    This past September, the Dimano Zagreb man started against Malta and played out an impressive game which saw Croatia earn all three points in the 3-1 win. Adding a third cap to his growing list, which began with his debut against the Czech Republic in February.

    Considered to be one of the country's greatest talents at the moment, Vrsaljko was heavily linked with moves to Ligue 1's Olympique Marseille and Premier League club Arsenal.  

    The hugely talented defender has two league titles, a Croatian Cup and a Croatian Supercup.

Mamadou Sakho

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    Age: 21 (13/02/1991)

    Country: France

    At the age of just 17, the defender was already making regular appearances in Ligue 1 club Paris Saint-Germaine. With the club, he has a Coupe de la Ligue and a Coupe de France.

    Last season, at the mere age of 21, young Sakho was chosen to captain all Europa League games, due to the unavailability of Claude Makélélé. In the same season, he won the UNFP Ligue 1 Young Player of the Year award and was listed in the Ligue 1 Team of the Year award. A mainstay in the defensive line of PSG, he helped lead them to a 4th-place finish last season.

    He is now the full captain of league leaders PSG.

    For his country, Sakho had captained all youth levels, beginning at the U-16 level. Recently being called up for the senior side, he has so far made five impressive caps.

Giannis Fetfatzidis

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    Age: 20 (21/12/1991)

    Country: Greece

    The Olympiacos striker is smart and quick on his feet. A good passser and dribbler, he is tricky and talented. He can play almost anywhere on the offensive line and is often likened to Lionel Messi, gaining the nickname: 'The Greek Messi.'

    Similar to Barcelona striker Messi, Fetfatzidis also needed the growth hormone treatment which only Olympiacos provided for him.

    Making 11 appearances for the Greek National Team, he has scored three times, including the winner  and only goal in a friendly against Canada. He capped six times in the Euro 2012 qualifiers and scored twice against island country Malta.

    Often playing directly behind the striker, Fetfatzidis helped lead Olympiacos to a Superleague title, his only trophy with the club thus far.

    He also scored the only goal in a win against Olympique Marseille in the second to last match day of this season's Champions League, which put Olympiacos in a position of possible qualification.

Sotiris Ninis

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    Age: 21 (03/04/1990)

    Country: Greece

    An exceptional player at such a young age. The attacking midfielder has won the Greek Young Player of the Year award twice and was named in the 'Names to Note' of the UEFA U-19 European Championship in 2007 after winning the Silver Medal and MVP of the same contest.

    He has broken a number of notable records, including: becoming the youngest ever player to score for Greece with his goal against Israel in Tel Aviv. It was a goal which saw Greece win the game and virtually qualify.

    The skillful and pacy Greek was also the youngest player ever to be selected as captain of Panathinaikos, the fierce enemies of Fetfatzidis's club Olympiacos.

Nicolai Boilesen

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    Age: 19 (16/02/1992)

    Country: Denmark

    A very intelligent footballer, Nicolai Boilesen assisted in Ajax's Everdivisie win this past season. With Daniel Agger as a role model, the Ballerup-born Dane has made four appearances in the season so far, and is ready to make more.

    After playing for various youth levels, the Ajax man made his senior debut for Denmark in a 2-0 win over fellow Scandinavians Norway. The full 90 minutes went over well for the youngster, and he since played a number of games for the U-21 team, hoping for another call to the senior side.

    Fast, with great technique, rumours of Chelsea, Juventus and Real Madrid scouts watching him have recently been circulating, though Ajax will be looking to keep a firm grip on him.