The six players Manchester United should be scouting at the Euro Under-21 Championship – Tyrone Marshall
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is prioritising youth in his Manchester United rebuild and so far he’s been true to his word with the £15million addition of Daniel James.
While Solskjaer wants to prioritise domestic talents, United are beginning to accept they may be priced out of a move for a number of British youngsters.
There are plenty of exciting prospects on the continent however, and Solskjaer could send a couple of his scouts to Italy for the next two weeks as the European Under-21 Championships begin today.
The United boss will already have one eye on the tournament, with goalkeeper Dean Henderson in the England squad, competing with Angus Gunn and Freddie Woodman for the glove, while transfer targets Aaron Wan-Bissaka and James Maddison are in the Three Lions squad as well.
The 12-tournament features plenty more potential targets. Here are six from the rest of Europe that the recruitment team might have an eye on in Italy:
Jonathan Tah (Germany)
At 23 Tah is one of the senior players in Germany’s squad, with players 21 or under at the start of the qualifying campaign eligible for the tournament.
The Bayer Leverkusen centre back also brings plenty of Bundesliga experience with him, having made 119 appearances in Germany’s top flight, while Tah has also made six appearances for the senior Germany side.
He was considered one of Europe’s hottest properties a couple of years ago but remains with Leverkusen, despite being linked with a move away. He recently signed a contract extension until 2023, but a good tournament with Germany could see interest rise in him once again.
Dayot Upamecano (France)
Another Bundesliga centre back will be in action for France during the Under-21 Euros. Both of RB Leipzig’s central defenders are in the France, in 20-year-olds Upamecano and Ibrahima Konate.
Both are exciting prospects but it’s the former who has been hailed as one of the most existing defensive prospects in world football. His teammate Yussuf Poulsen said of Upamecano this season: “He is now the best centre back. He is a top player, fast, clever good in a duel; it’s just very hard to get past him.”
He sounds perfect for a United defence desperate for that kind of player. Upamecano moved to RB Leipzig from RB Salzburg and made 37 appearances this season, including 11 in the Europa League.
Mahmoud Dahoud (Germany)
Another 23-year-old German, Dahoud also brings plenty of experience to the competition, although he is yet to make the breakthrough at senior international level.
The Syrian-born midfielder has enjoyed a good Bundesliga career so far however. He scored eight goals in 86 games for Borussia Monchengladbach before a €12m move to Borussia Dortmund in the summer of 2017.
Dahoud hasn’t always been a regular at Signal Iduna Park but he’s attracted the interest of big clubs before and as a midfielder who likes to keep things simple he could be one to keep an eye on for United.
Nicolo Zaniolo (Italy)
The 19-year-old has only four Italy Under-21 caps to his name but the Roma ace has enjoyed such a breakthrough season that he’s going to be a key man in this tournament and has already won two senior Italy caps.
Zaniolo spent last season at Inter Milan but moved to Roma as part of the deal taking Radja Nainggolan the other way. That’s a trade that has been a huge success for Roma, with Zaniolo scoring six goals in 36 games for his new club.
Former Inter youth coach Stefano Vecchi had high praise for Zaniolo.
“In my opinion, he’s a midfielder of quality and energy, a [Steven] Gerrard] or [Frank] Lampard,” he said.
Houssem Aouar (France)
Aouar is one of two Lyon midfielders who really caught the eye in the Champions League this season, especially with their performances in two games against Manchester City.
While Tanguy Ndombele is on the radar of City and has also been linked with United and Tottenham, there hasn’t been as much talk around 20-year-old Aouar.
He’s netted 15 times in 96 games for Lyon, showing he has an eye for a goal as well as being a fine all-round midfielder. After Lyon’s 2-2 draw with City last season, Guardiola hailed Aouar as “incredible”.
He added: “He’s always very calm with the ball at his feet, with an excellent technical quality.”
Nicolo Barella (Italy)
The 22-year-old could be the star of Italy’s team in their own tournament, having progressed to the senior ranks since the last World Cup, scoring twice in seven caps.
Barella has quickly become Cagliari’s star man, making 97 Serie A appearances across the last three seasons, and that form means he’s set to move on this summer.
Unfortunately for United he appears to have his heart set on a move to Inter Milan, but until the deal is signed and sealed there could always be time to sneak in.