Watching talented young players, who perform at the highest level, is rewarding to the eye.
Players growing into the finished article pleases fans and managers. It is even more special when players break into the national team set-ups and with many young players often not getting the chance at the highest level, therefore it makes it extra special to see a youngster outplay their senior opponents. Having already assessed Spain’s, Germany’s, England’s, France’s and Italy’s young midfielders and attackers, we now scout the top European young defenders.
1) Spain: Marc Bartra, 22
Marc Bartra has been part of the Barcelona set-up since his debut in 2010, when he was 19. Now 22, he was instrumental in Spain’s recent Under-21 Championship success and was voted in the team of the tournament. He has won numerous trophies which include a Champions League and numerous La Liga titles.
He is still yet to break into the full Spanish national side, but he could be a realistic centre-back for Barcelona for years to come. The Spaniard is blessed with fabulous technique, typical of La Masia graduates.
2) Germany: Sebastian Jung, 22
Many tip the young full-back to be the natural successor of Germany’s Phillip Lahm. It’s recently been discussed whether to feature him in the full national team following his impressive performances at both Eintracht Frankfurt and in German youth teams.
He’s played over 100 times at club level in the Bundesliga which is hugely impressive for someone so young. He will definitely be around for years to come and heavily feature for the German national team.
3) France: Raphael Varane, 20
Tied with Mattia De Sciglio as the most talented and gifted defender. Rafael Varane has put in phenomenal performances against Lionel Messi, Didier Drogba and Ramadel Falcao. The physically built Frenchman has already clocked up 48 appearances for Real Madrid and has two full national team caps .
Exceptional speed, strength and technical ability, Varane has the credentials to be the best central defender of his era and he’s been tipped to surpass the legendary status of Real Madrid’s Fernando Hierro.
4) England: Phil Jones, 21
The Englishman is something of a utility man. Having played at left-back, right-back, centre-back and even in the heart of midfield, Phil Jones needs to quickly find his best position. Having said this, his speed, strength and power allows him to successfully be a ‘jack of all trades’ and fulfil numerous duties on the pitch.
At only 21, the Manchester United player will be featuring for the English champions and the Three Lions for years to come, being defensively sound and a threat bounding forward.
5) Italy: Mattia De Sciglio, 20
The fast paced full-back is comfortable on either flank. The 20-year-old, along with Rafael Varane, is one of the most talked about defenders coming through the ranks in world football.
The young full-back has amassed eight full-team Italian caps and has been compared to the legendary Paolo Maldini. The youngster played 33 times for AC Milan last season and will hope to add to his trophy collection next season, with a youthful and talented Milan side.
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