If you enjoy scouting for wonderkids and the next generation of talents, the UEFA Under-17 Euro Finals, which kicked off this week, lets you watch some of the most promising under-17 talents in Europe at the biggest scene in real life.
This time, the UEFA European Under-17 Championship will be hosted in Hungary between 17 May to 2 June, giving you the possibility to watch the best future wonderkid stars in Europe erupt in front of your eyes. Today we will take a closer look at the 10 wonderkids you need to know of at UEFA Euro Under-17 finals and who the biggest stars of the U17 Euro 2023 are!
These 10 young players that you need to watch in the tournament are a mix of some of the best young players and wonderkids in Football Manager 2023 and potential FM24 wonderkids that we will meet in the next edition of Football Manager.
In fact, the only way to get some of these wonderkids in Football Manager 2023 is to download our coming* FM23 Nextgen Wonderkids Database which will feature all those promising talents that were too young to be added to Football Manager 2023.
*The NextGen Wonderkids Database by Passion4FM and FM Veteran is set to be released May 25th. Stay tuned for more information by subscribing to our Twitter accounts.
About the UEFA Euro Under-17 Championship
The UEFA Under-17 European Championship has been one of the greatest scenes to watch the next generation of talents erupt since the first edition of the tournament (in its current format) was held in 2001/02. The origin of the tournament dates back to 1982 when the tournament was known as an under-16 championship until the 01/02 edition held in Denmark.
Over these years, Spain has become the most successful team in the competition with 9 titles with their last coming in 2017. Since then, the Netherlands has won two consecutive trophies before France won their third title in 2022, after a two-year absence due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Throughout these years, the Under-17 Euro has become a great event to watch the future stars in world football break through on the international scene. Most of the world class footballers we know today and former legends has participated in the tournament, such as Thierry Henry, Luis Figo, Toni Kroos, Cristiano Ronaldo, Phil Foden, Patrick Kluivert, Erling Haaland, Andres Iniesta and Michael Owen. In fact, all the legends have one day participated in the competition and been an important factor in their development and growth of reputation.
The last time the UEFA Under-17 Euro was held in 2022, new stars was born in the likes of Afonso Moreira, Paul Wanner, Jaden Slory, Jason van Duiven Jovan Milosevic, Mathys Tel and Warren Zäire-Emery – all wonderkids in Football Manager 2023 that you really should sign if you got the chance!
Under-17 2023 Hungary
This year, a total of 16 teams will compete for a qualification place to the FIFA Under-17 World Cup in November 2023 and of course become the Champions of U17 Euro 2023.
The 16 teams have progressed from the Elite Round of UEFA Under-17 Championship qualifications and is placed in four groups of four teams.
The U17 Euro 2023 groups:
Group A: Hungary (Hosts), Rep. of Ireland, Poland, Wales
Group B: Serbia, Spain, Italy, Slovenia
Group C: Portugal, France (holders), Scotland, Germany
Group D: Croatia, Netherlands, Switzerland, England
As you’ll imagine, there are some tough groups being drawn with England up against one of the favourites in the tournament, the Netherlands, while France might have a tough task of claiming the top spot against Portugal’s and Germany’s Under-17 national teams. In group B, Spain and Italy are the favourites while Poland might be the biggest favourite to win Group A.
Without further ado, let’s look at some of the biggest stars of the UEFA Under-17 European Championship and be introduced to the next wonderkids to watch ahead of Football Manager 2024 release.
Mattia Mannini- AS Roma / Italy
If Italy shall win the Under-17 European Championship 2023 they might rely on teamwork and tactical astuteness to overcome difficult opponents like Serbia and Spain. Italy, who normally uses a 4-3-1-2 and forming a diamond at the center of the park with Marco Romano in front of Mattia Mannini, Lorenzo Riccio and either Francesco Crapisto or Leonardo Mendicino cover the channels in the center of the park.
As the captain for Italy U17, Mattia Mannini is probably the most talented player in the side, apart from AC Milan’s Mattia Liberali who is a traditional right winger. Anyway, Mattia Mannini is a classy modern midfielder who reads the game well and offers both off the ball movements, like Ilkay Gündogan or Granit Xhaka, work rate and passing accuracy.
The roaming playmaker, or box to box midfielder stands out for his vision, anticipation and decision-making. His understanding of the game and creative force comes to its full effect when the Italian side is in the final third from where he can take advantage of his fierce long shots, intelligent movements between the lines, and into channels, and superb close control in tight spaces. Able to keep control of the ball despite being put under extensive pressure, comfortable in quick combination play and a decent first touch enables Mattia Mannini to control the team’s build up.
What attracts my attention is what Mattia Mannini does without the ball. Always making himself available, often understanding where to run to create spaces or offer new passing options by making third runs, or when to hold back to stabilize the midfield ensures the manager can always rely on the player. Despite being rather small framed, the central midfielder is not afraid to close down and try to get between the goal and the opponent to reduce their chances to enter the final third.
His magnificent potential, tactical intelligent and maturity on the pitch has already caught the attention from Roberto Mancini, who invited him to participate in a training camp for the Italian national team in December 2022, despite being only 15-year-old.
However, so far the talented modern midfielder has scored 3 goals in 13 appearances for Italy Under-17 but could turn out to be the next Niccolo Barella if his development continues.
Karol Borys – Slask Wroclaw / Poland
The last time Poland reached the European Championship finals was in 2012 when they reached the semi-finals. Then Karol Linetty was one of the breakthrough stars. This year, Poland has a quite a talented squad featuring Igor Brzyski, Krzysztof Kolanko, Filip Wolski, Oskar Tomczyk and Karol Borys – the latter a player worth mentioning. Karol Borys came under the spotlight when he made his professional debut in Ekstraklasa in August 28th 2022 at the tender age of 15 and 7 months. This made him the youngest debutant in the league while Krzysztof Kolanko was 27 days older when he debuted a month earlier.
Since then, the attacking midfielder has made 6 appearances in Ekstraklasa for Slask Wroclaw. Despite only recording 178 minutes of action, Karol Borys is seen as a huge talent. He has already had trials with Manchester United but nothing has happened yet despite he’s regarded as one for the future in Polish football.
The left-footed attacking midfielder can play either behind a striker or as a number 8 in a 4-3-3 system. Standing out for his ball control, vision and flair, the Polish wonderkid scored a screamer in the opening match of Euro U17 with a remarkable long-shot that could easily become the goal of the tournament. Outside being a creative player who stands out for his passing range and accuracy, his directness with the ball and quickness gives another layer to the attacking play as he’s capable of carrying the ball out of the build-up phase and use one-twos to set the tempo of the play.
When the team is in possession of the ball, Karol Borys is a rather tactical intelligent player who got great spatial awareness. By positioning himself between the lines, he can combine with his teammates, or make long shots from outside the penalty area.
The skills of Karol Borys make him into a highly press-resistant player who uses his close control and technique to stamp his mark on the game, and shines in small pocket of spaces making him an ideal player for any possession-based teams.
Ethan Nwaneri – Arsenal / England
Ethan Nwaneri is the next English wonderkid on everyone’s lips. As one of the brightest talents in the Arsenal Academy since Bukayo Saka, the Arsenal Wonderkid has already made his Premier League debut for Arsenal, which happened against Brentford in September 2022. This made him into the youngest ever Premier League player as he was only 15 years and 181 days at the time of his professional debut. At the U17 Euro’s there are high expectations of Ethan Nwaneri’s skills. In fact, he could be the one to bag the goals England needs to claim their third U17 Euro trophy.
The attacking midfielder who is of Nigerian descent, has currently scored 7 goals in 12 appearances for England Under-17. The record-breaking youngster is capable to be used as a central forward, as a left inside forward or as a shadow striker in a 4-2-3-1 system.
Standing at only 165cm, he’s a player of low centre of gravity, technique, vision and speed. His playmaking abilities is as great as his abilities to finish off the attacks. With the ball glued to his feet, his driving runs from defensive third to the final third brings a counter-attacking threat where he can make through balls or take shots as he closes in on the penalty area. His smartness with the ball and passing technique can’t go unnoticeable. Able to make accurate passes at the correct speed for his teammates to get control of the ball, Ethan Nwaneri’s abilities to dictate tempo and make key passes and assists makes him into an important player in the attack.
When receiving the ball outside the penalty box, Nwaneri’s long shots and tendency to place the ball out of reach for the goalkeeper has seen him score quite a few goals. In fact, he is rather great at moving and positioning himself at the right place to put the ball in the back of the net from rebounds, in settled attacks, or from making diagonal runs from the flank towards the goal.
Even though he’s a diamond in the rough and still has a way to go to develop his physic, the Arsenal wonderkid could soon be the one taking the place of Gabriel Martinelli on the left flank and form a formidable attacking trio with Ødegaard and Saka in a few years, especially when we combine the creativity of the three.
Lamine Yamal – Barcelona / Spain
It’s easy to be starstruck and amazed by the remarkable technical abilities of those dribbling and goalscoring whiz kids but this time it’s a future superstar in the making we’re taking about. Lamine Yamal is the next big thing breaking through from Barcelona’s renown La Masia Academy. The 15-year-old right inside forward, born July 13th, 2007, is currently part of Barcelona’s Under-19 team and the Barcelona first team. He featured on their bench a few matches before eventually making his professional La Liga debut April 29th, 2023. That made Lamine Yamal as the youngest debutant for Barcelona in La Liga, and the fifth youngest debutant in the competition’s history.
The Spanish wonderkid of Moroccan descent, is seen as the crown jewel of La Masia with pundits comparing his potential to G.O.A.T Lionel Messi and next big thing Endrick – the Brazilian wonderkid that is set to put Spain on fire when he moves to Real Madrid in July 2024.
Barcelona’s new wonderkid Lamine Yamal is a tremendously talented youngster who has tormented the opposition since moving to Barcelona at the age of 7. At the age of 11, he apparently scored 68 goals in a season and have continued to bag goals after goals and putting up remarkable performances in recent years, whether that being for Spain Under-17 or in youth competitions in Spain or across the globe.
For Barcelona U19 this season, he has made 20 appearances and scored 7 goals, meanwhile he has scored 4 goals in 5 appearances for Spain U17 and has already made the debut for the Spanish Under-19 national team.
The 180cm tall right inside forward stands out for ball control, trickery and outstanding skills in one-on-one situations. Capable of using his agility, acceleration, and technique to beat his marker, he comes into goalscoring opportunities as well as creating space and chances for his teammates.
Similar to Endrick, Lamine Yamal got something special to his game that makes him into real gem. His understanding of the game, how he perceives the game, and its situations are miles above everyone else. His decision-making and unpredictability with the ball baffles both the opposing marker and the pundits whether it’s amazing passes that unlocks the opposition’s defensive block, movements and dribbles that enables him to get enough space for a tricky pass or body feints and switches of pace that drags the opposing marker to one side before turning and setting speed in the opposite direction.
His agility, balance with the ball and dribbling skills enables the team to enter final third and come into goalscoring opportunities more easily – especially in the youth leagues. As a player who have mostly played with two to four years older player, his maturity, awareness, and composure with the ball is levels above the rest.
Frankly, Lamine Yamal got everything that takes to succeed in international football and could easily get the player of the tournament award if he’s in his best form.
Noah Darvich – Freiburg / Germany
For any wonderkids hunters on Football Manager, Schalke 04’s wonderkid Assan Ouédraogo might have quickly become one of your favourite future talents in FM23 but since you’re probably already familiar with his skills, I like to put attention to another gem in the German Under-17 National team. Even though I could have mentioned Paris Brunner (Borussia Dortmund) or Robert Ramsak (Bayern Münich), I decided to focus my attention to Noah Darvich – one of the gems that have come through Freiburg’s youth Academy in recent years.
Noah Darvich is a 184cm tall left-footed attacking midfielder who currently plies his trade through the ranks of Freiburg and could get his definitive international breakthrough in the Under-17 Euro’s. As the captain of Germany U17, Noah Darvich is an important player to the team both on and off the pitch. Whilst Paris Brunner or Robert Ramsak might steal the attention, his consistency, and capabilities to play between the lines might help Germany to the final.
Germany U17’s number 10, has made three assists and scored 4 goals in 11 appearances so far this season. In the first match in the Euro U17 2023, against Portugal, he scored the first goal by intercepting a poor pass between the Portuguese defenders before setting speed with the ball directly towards the goal and then lobbing the goalkeeper with a lovely, curved shot. This goal showcased much of Noah Darvich’s best skills; his composure, agility, dribbling skills and finishing abilities. But it’s a lot more to his game than just finishing off the attacks and scoring goals.
Besides the attacking directness and quickness on and off the ball, he’s a player who got great ball control and got the vision and flair to unlock the opposition’s defensive block by through balls or flick-ons to feed the striker. Able to control the ball under pressure and use his creativity and speed of thought to make key passes and assists, Noah Darvich’s playmaking abilities between the lines could be the reason for Robert Ramsak to become the top scorer at the UEFA Under-17 EURO 2023 finals.
Saïmon Bouabré – AS Monaco / France
The youth academy of Monaco is one of the leading clubs in France to produce top talents. From Thierry Henry to Kylian Mbappe, and most recently Elisse Ben Seghir, the club have filled the French Ligue 1 with some amazing talents. One of the most recent talents knocking on the door to Monaco’s first team is Saïmon Bouabré. The 16-year-old versatile midfielder born in Saint-Etienne was one of the main reasons why AS Monaco won the Coupe Gambardella 2023. By being used as an inverted winger on the left flank, he scored 2 goals and made 3 assists over four appearances in the competition for Monaco Under-19.
Originally, he is a central midfielder who can also be used as an attacking midfielder in a 4-2-3-1 system. However, he’s most suited as a number eight in a 4-3-3 system where his vision, tactical intelligence and passing accuracy can link attack with defence. Standing out for his incredible playmaking abilities and superb athleticism – something that makes him into a highly mobile player who uses his quickness both on an off the ball to create chances and passing options to move the ball up the field.
The French wonderkid is skilled with the ball, either it’s by carrying the ball and using dribbles to get free of his marker or using his first touch and technique to keep possession of the ball despite being put under pressure. His vision and decision-making make him into a Mezzala or Advanced Playmaker which draws some similarities to Andres Iniesta. Especially his close control, dribbles and through balls, or switches of play, are traits we often see from La Masia graduates.
In fact, in the first Euro Under-17 match against Scotland, Bouabré made a lovely accurate cross from the left flank towards Gadou which could drew comparison to Kevin de Bruyne’s vision and crossing abilities in recent years. His importance on attacking set-pieces for France Under-17 shouldn’t go unnoticed either, as he might make a fair few assists in the tournament as he takes free-kicks and corners.
The French Wonderkid Saïmon Bouabré is one talented playmaker we will definitely hear more about in the coming years regardless how far France makes it in the Under-17 European Championship 2023!
Rory Wilson – Aston Villa / Scotland
Should Scotland Under-17 qualify from the group C, I’m afraid they must rely on the goalscoring talent of Aston Villa’s Wonderkid Rory Wilson. Goals has always been related to his name. As a youth graduate of Scottish side Rangers, Rory Wilson was signed by Aston Villa after scoring 49 goals in the 2021-22 season which eventually secured a call-up to Rangers B team soon after.
In the summer of 2023, Rory Wilson eventually made the move to Aston Villa and this season he has made appearances both in the U18 Premier League and the Premier League 2. Against Leicester Under-18 he bagged a wonderful hattrick on April 25th 2023, making it to 15goals in 20 appearances in all competitions combined this season.
His importance to the Scottish Under-17 side is apparent. With 16 goals in 17 matches, he was the main reason why Scotland managed to qualify for the Under-17 Euro finals.
In September 2022, the then 16-year-old striker was called up to the Scotland Under-21 side alongside Ben Doak, where he received two appearances.
At the time of writing, the forward has already opened his goalscoring account in the Euro’s and gave us a glimpse of his finishing abilities, determination and quickness as Scotland counter-attacked on France. Rory Wilson is a rather complete clinical striker who is as good in aerial situations as on the ground. His mobility, off the ball movement and work rate are key to making him score goals as he puts pressure on the opposition back line by closing down and running in behind the last defender – just like a Pressing Forward.
When building up play, Rory Wilson is also great at dropping deep and holding up and linking play much like a Deep-Lying forward. In fact, when watching him play there are similarities to Erling Haaland’s style of play. Strong, determined and ambitious with goals and capable of popping up at the right place at the right time.
Despite he’s yet to make the professional debut for Aston Villa, Unai Emery has called him up to train with the first team on several occasions making the first team debut not far out of sight. Probably, we’ll see more about this player in Premier League already next season despite only being 17.
Kayden Wolff – Ajax / Netherlands
With the success of the Dutch Under-17 side in the last three editions of the U17 European Championship, it’s a massive task ahead for the Netherlands U17 to win their fifth champions title. After losing the final to France last year, Tygo Land, Julian Oerip and Kayden Wolff might be the ones the Dutch side has to rely on to get their revenge.
Kayden Wolff is a promising inside forward playing for Ajax Under-17. The 186cm tall winger of Suriname descent is one of the standout performers for Ajax U17. So far this season, the technical gifted forward has scored 16 goals in 25 appearances. After only 159 minutes of action, he has managed to score 4 goals in 4 appearances for the Under-18 side – scoring a hattrick against PEC Zwolle on April 1st, 2023. Despite he has played both on the right flank and as center forward for Ajax, he has been primarily used as a left winger where he’s able to cut inside onto his strongest foot.
Gifted with high levels of flair, close control and trickery that we’ve only witnessed in futsal \, Kayden Wolff is brilliant in one-on-one situations where he can use his speed, dribbling and agility to get past his marker, making him a wonderful player to watch. At the Future Cup 2023, we could witness some of his amazing skills as he scored one of the finest goals in the competition when he darted forward with the ball glued to his feet and used his composure and technique to place the ball out of reach of the goalkeeper.
Time will tell whether he’s able to reach the level of Dennis Bergkamp or follow in the footsteps of Amourricho van Axel Dongen to receive promotion to the first team but what’s certain is that Kayden Wolff got the mixture of talent and professionalism to reach the top levels.
Joane Gadou – Paris SG / France
Joane Gadou is another hugely talented player within the youth ranks of Paris SG. Alongside more reputated Ethan Mbappe and Etienne Michut, Joane Kouakou Gadou is the youngest players in PSG’s Under-19 side. Born in Aubervilliers on 17th January 2007, the tall centre-back of Ivorian descent might be the next PSG graduate to follow in El Chadaille Bitshibua’s footsteps.
The physical imposing central defender debuted for the French Under-17 side in the first match of Euro Under-17 2023 when he also scored his first goal for the team after a wonderful cross from Bouabre which he could just steer the ball into the back of the net. It showed his magnificent skills in aerial duels and the threat he provides on attacking free-kicks and corners as he’s hard to come up against. In fact, the goal was far from fully scored, and he needed to be precise with his header to place the high ball into the net.
As a defender, Joane Goadu got all the defensive skills needed to protect the goal. Using his anticipation and physic coming up against his marker in one-on-one situations, makes him able to intercept the ball path and direct the forward away from goal by getting his long legs between the striker and the ball. He’s great at understanding when to come off the line and push out to intercept the ball path or make tackles at the right moment. Include decent quickness and pace to recover into a defensive positioning and a natural fitness that is desired of center back these days.
In possession of the ball, the ball-playing defender tends to bring the ball out of defence and use his technique, passing abilities and dribbling to quickly advance play forward. His skills with the ball makes him into a candidate as a wide centre-back or a defensive fullback who can run with the ball down the flank, or make overlaps and attacking contributions in a 3-2-4-1 system that’s so trendy these days.
Marc Guiu – Barcelona / Spain
The importance of La Masia to Spanish football is evident at this year’s competition. With the most players called-up from one club, the Barcelona talents will be decisive in Spain’s way to the title. The importance of Hector Fort and Pau Cubarsi at the back, the playmaking abilities and mobility of Pau Prim and Juan Hernandez, and don’t let us forget the unbelievable technique and flair from Lamine Yamal, makes Spain into one of the favourite teams.
But what’s a team without a player who can convert chances and score goals out of nothing?!
Meanwhile Germany has Robert Ramsak, Spain got Marc Guiu.
The clinical Barcelona striker is one of the favourites to win the top scorer title of Under-17 Euro 2023, but he’ll have fierce competition from Mathis Lambourde and Ethan Nwaneri. If, however, Marc Guiu becomes the top scorer of U17 Euro 2023, he will be the first Spanish player to score the most goals in the tournament since Paco Alcacer managed the same in 2010!
Marc Guiu’s talent to put the ball into the back of the net is stunning. It seems he always knows where the goal is, regardless of his body position and how he receives the ball. Whether it’s one-on-one against the goalkeeper where he can simply chip or go around him, at attacking set-pieces by heading the ball, turning with the ball outside the penalty area and placing the ball comfortable at the back of the net, or putting the ball into goal by position himself correctly from crosses or settled attacks, he got that eye for the goal.
In possession, he got sublime first touch and technique, and his ball control and dribbles make him able to create chances for himself by carrying it into more dangerous positions or hold onto the ball and give it to a teammate so he can make runs behind the defensive line.
Against Italy, Marc Guiu single handily changed the game by scoring two goals in less than 20 minutes. Although the first goal wasn’t amazing, it was a trademark finish from Guiu – being at the right place at the right time to steer deflections into the goal mouth. The second on the other hand, was a memorable goal as he received the ball with his back against the goal, turned on a coin, moved slightly forward and stroke the ball from outside the penalty area towards the top bar, out of reach of the goalkeepers hands.
Assan Ouédraogo, 09.05.2006 – Central Midfielder – Schalke 04 – Germany
Archie Gray, 12.02.2006 – Attacking Midfielder – Leeds – England
Winsley Boteli, 05.07.2006 – Forward – Bor. Mönchengladbach – Switzerland
Robert Ramsak, 28.10.2006 – Striker – FC Bayern Münich – Germany
Gabriele Biancheri, 18.09.2006 – Striker – Manchester United – Wales
Hector Fort, 02.08.2006 – Wingback/Centre Back – Barcelona – Spain
Daouda Traore, 22.06.2006 – Attacking Midfielder – OGC Nice – France
Vittorio Magni, 01.06.2006 – Fullback – A.C. Milan – Italy
Uros Sremcevic, 24.04.2006 – Striker – Mladost – Serbia
Tommy Setford, 13.03.2006 – Goalkeeper – AFC Ajax – England
Luka Topalovic, 23.02.2006 – Attacking Midfielder – NK Domzale – Slovenia
Marino Skelin, 18.09.2006 – Central Defender – Hajduk Split – Croatia
Bence Dárdai, 24.01.2006 – CM / Attacking Midfielder – Hertha Berlin – Germany
Myles Lewis-Skelly, 26.09.2006 – Defensive Midfielder – Arsenal – England
Yanis Issoufou, 28.10.2006 – Winger/Forward – Montpellier – France
Mattia Liberali, 06.04.2007 – Winger – A.C Milan – Italy
Ljube Puljic, 31.05.2007 – Central Defender – Osijek – Croatia
Follow the Under-17 European Championship 2023 Hungary by watching the matches live or see highlights at UEFA.tv.
Let us know in the comments which future stars you’ll be closely monitoring at this year’s Under-17 Euro.