The Under-17 European Championships is always a fascinating tournament and that was no different with the latest edition in Azerbaijan.
The scouts from all the major clubs come out in their drones and cast an eye over all the talent on show. A total of 73 goals were scored across 31 matches and there were just two 0-0 draws and 21 clean sheets.
France where the defending champions heading into this tournament but surprisingly finished without a victory or scoring a goal. Scotland and Bosnia and Herzegovina where surprise qualifiers but also didn’t get beyond the group stage.
Portugal looked the most dominant team from the off when they dispatched the hosts 5-0 on the opening day. The Portuguese would go all the way to the final without conceding a goal and scoring 15 in the process.
Helio Sousa’s side needed penalties to see off Spain in the final, who were the only side to score against the champions through the whole tournament.
The Spanish also missed a penalty in normal time but the best team won and Portugal lifted their second under-17 trophy.
The quality of players has improved at these tournaments largely thanks to the UUEFA Youth League. This gives the younger players a chance to compete at a higher level and against older players.
It’s difficult to pick a select few of the top players from a championship that was full of them, and Germany’s Renat Dadashov just misses out, as does Spain’s Jordi Mboula.
Jose Gomes (Portugal)
The Benfica youngster is nicknamed ‘Ze Golo,’ which tells you exactly what you need to know about the centre forward.
He scored twice in 16 minutes in the opening game and he went on to finish top scorer with seven goals. Including qualifying, he has overtaken Valencia’s Paco Alcacer as the all-time top marksman.
Gomes has pace, skill and a clinical eye for finding the net, while his movement in the box is outstanding, and five of his goals where headers.
The future looks bright for Benfica and Portugal.
Brahim Diaz (Spain)
This little magician has the world at his feet. At just 16 years of age the things he can do with a football are outstanding.
Brahim has that low centre of gravity which makes it so difficult to take the ball off him, and he possesses excellent upper body strength.
He plays in the number 10 role and excels at it, taking on players and beating them, but for now he lacks consistency with his end product.
The diminutive creator scored three times and assisted once at the championships but his all round game is really superb; he’s quick, skilful and can a pick out a pass.
Manchester City paid Malaga £300,000 to lure him and his family from the clutches of Barcelona in 2013, and you can certainly see why.
Diogo Dalot (Portugal)
If there’s one thing that every team needs, then it’s a full back that has energy and end product. For Porto, they certainly have that with 17-year-old Dalot.
The right back was instrumental in Portugal dominating the final third of the pitch with his energy and direct running.
He also scored twice, including the opening goal in the final, and played all 400 minutes of the tournament.
It won’t be long until he sees some first team action at Porto and is certainly one that is going places.