With the 2020/21 domestic season now concluded, attention has switched towards this summer’s Euro 2020 tournament which kicks off next weekend.
Manchester United, like many other Premier League clubs, will no doubt use the tournament as an opportunity to take a closer look at potential targets in elite competitive action.
The event may also act as a springboard for one or two future prospects to put themselves in the shop window for big clubs.
With that in mind, below are three young players set to take part in this summer’s European Championship who could have the potential to catch the eye of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and his recruitment staff in the coming weeks.
Illya Zabarnyi – Ukraine – 20
It’s no secret that Manchester United are in the hunt for a new central defender, and although Zabarnyi may be only 20, he’s already got six international caps under his belt for Ukraine and could be one to watch in this summer’s tournament.
He’s been a regular in Dynamo Kyiv’s back line this season and has attracted plenty of plaudits for a number of standout displays both domestically and in Europe.
He possesses traits sought after in a United defender, these being tall, standing at 6ft1in, strong but also able to keep pace with most opposition attackers in a foot race.
The 20-year-old finished last season with an impressive defensive duel success rate of 67 per cent. Harry Maguire was the only defender to have a better success rate at Manchester United last season.
Not just strong without the ball, but he’s also exhibited himself as a real asset with it, boasting a pass success rate of over 92 per cent last season from a fairly high 57.7 passes per 90.
These numbers were of course accumulated predominantly in a much inferior division when compared to the Premier League, yet if Zabarnyi can impress on the international stage at the age of just 20 in the coming weeks, he could make his way onto some big clubs’ radars.
Teun Koopmeiners – Netherlands – 23
Although United’s big move for a Dutch midfielder last season hasn’t yet paid off, that shouldn’t deter them from making a move for another. Especially one as talented as Koopmeiners .
The 23-year-old features predominantly as a left-sided CM/DM for both the Netherlands and Dutch outfit AZ Alkmaar.
He has strong technical ability when in possession, and is always calm and capable of a wide range of nice progressive touches that help him evade pressure and allow him to identify nearby passing options quickly.
Without the ball, the midfielder can make himself a difficult opponent to bypass. In terms of defensive duels, he has a success rate of 65.6 per cent last season – that ranked inside the top 15 midfielders who played over 1,000 Eredivisie minutes.
The defensive side of his skillset is aided by both his decent 6ft frame and good reading of the game around him.
Additionally, despite playing in a deeper role on the pitch, he scored an impressive 16 league and European goals last season, as well as registering a further six assists.
Jeremy Doku – Belgium – 19
United are already known to be in the hunt for a new attacking wide man, and that process is likely to continue this summer.
And while we’ve already seen the Reds linked with a number of top forwards in recent months, one player drifting under the radar who could, and perhaps should be attracting further attention from United, is exciting teenager Doku.
Doku has been linked with moves to the Premier League before, with Liverpool reportedly trying to sign him. The Belgium attacker rejected the Anfield outfit though, believing a move to England was ‘too soon’ into his career.
He instead stayed with his club at the time Anderlecht in order to maintain regular first-team football.
Last summer, he joined Rennes in Ligue 1 and has since steadily built a reputation as one of the division’s most exciting young talents. His selection for Roberto Martinez’s Euro squad is in itself a testament to his abilities, particularly given the wealth of talent Belgium has at their disposal.
His playing style draws similarities to that of Liverpool’s Sadio Mane’s in that he’s a versatile right-footed wide attacker who is quick, skilful and an ever-present threat in the final third.
Notably, from Ligue 1 players who played over 1000 minutes, only Samuel Kalu, Kylian Mbappe and Neymar attempted more dribbles on a per 90 basis last season than his average of 9.96.
With a total of five combined goals or assists, he hasn’t yet got the sort of attacking output you’d hope for in a United forward, yet that may come as the 19-year-old develops further.