At the onset of the year, as is customary, UEFA.com has harnessed the insights of its network of reporters, correspondents, and editors spanning the continent to forecast the young players poised to make a mark on the Champions League Final stage in 2024.
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All contenders must be 21 years old or younger at the beginning of the year, aspiring to replicate the impactful debuts on the European stage made by some of our previous selections, including Erling Haaland (2019), Rafael Leão (2020), Jude Bellingham (2021), and Gavi (2022), just to mention a few.
Champions League Final Prospect: António Silva (POR, 19) from Benfica
Bursting onto the Benfica scene at the tender age of 18 at the commencement of the 2022/23 season, António Silva quickly secured his position as the first-choice cultured center-back.
His robust defensive skills, coupled with the ability for precise passing over any distance, have solidified his role in the team. Since his breakthrough, Silva has maintained a consistent presence, becoming an integral part of Benfica.
Notably, this talented defender achieved a historic milestone by becoming the youngest player ever to represent Portugal at the World Cup, achieving this feat at the age of 19 years and 33 days.
As his promising career unfolds, the anticipation grows for Silva’s potential impact on the Champions League Final stage, showcasing his skills and adding a new dimension to Benfica’s defensive prowess.
Champions League Final Prospect: Arnau Martínez (ESP, 20) of Girona
Having honed his skills in Barcelona’s La Masia academy for several years, the right-back truly blossomed while aiding Girona in their ascent to the top flight during the 2021/22 season.
Demonstrating an impressive ability to carry the ball forward with pace and deliver incisive passes, this Under-21 international has emerged as a standout performer in Girona’s remarkable start to the current season. You can also read Champions League Final Prognoses
Noah Atubolu (GER, 21) from Freiburg
After the summer departure of Mark Flekken, Freiburg placed their faith in the Germany U21 goalkeeper, Atubolu. Transitioning into the Champions League final, Atubolu has not shied away from the challenge. His remarkable reactions and precise distribution on the field have garnered comparisons with a young Manuel Neuer.
Johan Bakayoko (BEL, 20) Eyes Glory in the
Having made a significant impact for PSV in early 2023, he culminated his breakthrough season with seven goals and five assists. Transitioning to the Champions League final, his exceptional pace and one-on-one ability transform the traditional right-winger into a constant threat to defenders. Notably, he marked his international debut for Belgium in March.
Embarking on Champions League Final Dreams: Tommaso Baldanzi (ITA, 20) of Empoli
Having been with Empoli since the age of eight, the attacking midfielder has cultivated his skills over the years. Transitioning into the Champions League final, his journey includes representing Italy at various age levels.
Culminating in the FIFA U-20 World Cup final in 2023, where he showcased his prowess in all seven games. Blessed with exceptional vision and flair, Baldanzi’s passing ability has been a standout feature for the Italian side over the past 18 months.
Roony Bardghji (SWE, 18) Aims for Glory in the Champions League Final with Copenhagen
Transitioning into the first-team set-up since the age of 16, the Kuwait-born forward has seamlessly integrated and amassed over 50 appearances for the club.
This season, he made a significant impact by scoring six goals in his initial nine league games. Notably, he etched his name in football history by scoring the winner against Manchester United in the Champions League final, achieving this remarkable feat all before turning 18.
Maximilian Beier (GER, 21) Set to Shine in the Champions League Final with Hoffenheim
Having accumulated two seasons of valuable experience on loan at Hannover, the swift forward has seamlessly integrated into Hoffenheim, and the team is now reaping the rewards.
Transitioning into the Champions League final, Coach Pellegrino Matarazzo emphasized, “You either have those genes or you don’t, and Maxi possesses the genetic makeup to score goals.
This belief has been substantiated by Maxi’s remarkable performance, registering six goals in his initial eight Bundesliga games this season. As the team gears up for the Champions League final, Maxi’s goal-scoring prowess becomes even more pivotal to their success.
Nikola Cavlina (CRO, 21) Represents Lokomotiva Zagreb on the Journey to Champions League Glory
Upon his return to Lokomotiva from Dinamo Zagreb in 2021, the local lad swiftly asserted himself as their No. 1
at the commencement of the 2022/23 season. Transitioning into the Champions League final, Cavlina’s journey has
been marked by stunning reflexes and an uncanny ability to save penalties. Consequently, he has progressed from strength to strength, earning a regular spot for Croatia’s U21 side.
Ousmane Diomande (CIV, 20) Represents Sporting CP on the Rise
Experiencing a meteoric rise since making his Sporting CP debut in February, Ousmane Diomande has become a standout figure. Transitioning into the Champions League final,
he excels in the tackle and embodies the qualities of a truly modern ball-playing centre-back
, adept at both passing and carrying the ball out of defense. Now established as the first choice for his club, Diomande’s journey continues to impress. In the early part of this season, he earned his first three caps
for Ivory Coast, marking a significant milestone in his burgeoning career.
Bilal El Khannous (MAR, 19) Eyes Glory in the Champions League Final with Genk
Following his debut for Morocco in the third-placed play-off
at the World Cup, he seamlessly transitioned into a regular feature for the semi-finalists.
As he steps onto the grand stage of the Champions League final,
the silky midfielder, named Young Player of the Year in Belgium for 2022, showcases his versatility. Equally adept at creating through ball-carrying or producing incisive passes, he brings a dynamic element to the midfield.
Evan Ferguson (IRL, 19)
Emerging as the latest talent from the Brighton
production line and a beacon of hope for the Republic of Ireland
national team, Ferguson stands out as a formidable all-round striker.
strength, and two-footed prowess make him a standout player. Notably,
he achieved a milestone by becoming the first teenager to score
ten Premier League goals in a calendar year since Wayne Rooney in 2005.
Filip Jorgensen (DEN, 21)
Born in Sweden, Jorgensen has adeptly learned from the evergreen Pepe Reina at Villarreal.
he has become a regular starter for Denmark’s U21 side. This season, he seamlessly took over from his more experienced counterpart as the club’s No. 1.
Jorgensen is as capable as a commanding presence in the area as he is acting as a sweeper keeper, showcasing his versatility on the field.
Michael Kayode (ITA, 19) Making Waves with Fiorentina
Initially shining as a 16-year-old starlet at Serie D Gozzano,
Kayode transitioned to Fiorentina, where he continued to make a significant impact.
his journey includes playing a key role in Italy’s victorious 2023
UEFA European Under-19 Championship campaign, where he scored the winner in the final.
The marauding right-back seamlessly carried that form into his breakthrough season in Florence.
Karim Konaté (CIV, 19)
Salzburg has unearthed yet another exceptional prospect in the 19-year-old forward,
and as he enters the Champions League final stage,
he aims to follow in the footsteps of Erling Haaland and Benjamin Šeško with a significant impact at the club. Rapid and relentless,
Konaté showcased his prowess by scoring 15 goals in 18 games for Liefering last season
Transitioning seamlessly into the current term, he has already
reached double figures for Salzburg, further solidifying his status as a rising star.
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