The international break can often be a much-maligned interruption to the footballing calendar, but this week’s clashes will undoubtedly be relished by a group of footballers in line to make debut appearances for their respective nations.
It’s often said that there is no greater feeling in football than representing your country, and this week’s Nations League fixtures could provide some of world football’s best emerging talents an opportunity they are unlikely to forget.
Here are five of the best young players to potentially make their international debut’s this week:
Dayot Upamecano is a name likely to be familiar with fans across Europe following his performances in recent seasons for RB Leipzig, the centre-back emerging as one of the best young defenders in world football and attracting interest from the game’s elite clubs.
The 21-year-old flourished during Leipzig’s surprise run to the last four of the Champions League and his starring displays have not gone unnoticed by Didier Deschamps, the youngster called into the France squad for the first time for their Nations League clashes against Sweden and Croatia.
The world champions have a wealth of talent in virtually every position including in central defence, where Upamecano will be joined by the likes of Raphael Varane, Presnel Kimpembe and Clement Lenglet.
Upamecano is powerful and athletic but combines his physical attributes with an assuredness in possession, often stepping out of the backline and past opposition challenges to launch attacking moves.
The youngster has risen rapidly and taken everything in his long stride in his fledgeling career to date, and few would bet against him cementing himself in the France squad for years to come.
Phil Foden has long been tipped as a star of the future for England and could now be handed his opportunity at senior level, the Manchester City midfielder included in Gareth Southgate’s squad ahead of this weekend’s clash with Iceland and Tuesday’s trip to Denmark.
The 20-year-old has been phased into a formidable side under Pep Guardiola and flourished following the Premier League’s restart in June, scoring five goals in just six starts in an impressive audition to be David Silva’s replacement next season.
Foden has starred for the Three Lions at youth level – being named as Player of the Tournament after winning the U-17 World Cup three years ago – and looks ready for the step up to the senior side, the ‘Stockport Iniesta’ possessing the talent to add the type of guile and creativity that has been lacking in England’s midfield in recent years.
One of the brightest prospects in English football at present, Southgate will be hoping to run the rule over the City star at international level ahead of a potentially defining season for Foden at the Etihad.
Barcelona’s teenage winger has earned his first call-up to the Spanish national side, the starlet rewarded following a season in which he broke a whole host of records, including becoming the youngest goalscorer in the history of both the Catalan club and the Champions League.
Fati’s season saw him score seven goals in just 11 league starts for Barcelona, with Spain manager Luis Enrique describing the 17-year-old as an ‘incredible talent’ and talking up his impressive goals-per-minute ratio.
Fati joins a Spain squad on a 10-game unbeaten run in all competitions and will hope to be given an opportunity ahead of fixtures against Germany and Ukraine, Enrique bidding to build a side capable of challenging next summer following an indifferent major tournament record in recent years.
The era of World Cup and European Championship success has reached its end with few of those triumphant squads remaining, though Fati provides a glimpse into the future of Spanish football as they seek to challenge once more.
The production line of talent in French football is showing no signs of slowing down with Eduardo Camavinga the latest prospect to make a name for himself, the Rennes sensation the talk of Europe following a breakout season in Ligue 1.
Real Madrid are reportedly huge admirers of a player who has played with a maturity that defies his tender years, the 17-year-old’s first inclusion in the France squad a testament to his precocious talents.
17-year-old Eduardo Camavinga has received his first call-up to the senior French national team.
He was born after their 1998 World Cup win and their 2000 Euros win. 😅 pic.twitter.com/S4CTH8ZIAF
— Squawka News (@SquawkaNews) August 27, 2020
Camavinga could become the youngest player in more than a century to represent France if he is capped in the nation’s fixtures against Sweden and Croatia, the midfielder a talent who could star for his country for the next decade and longer.
Comfortable screening the back four despite his slender frame, he also has the dynamism to play in a box-to-box role and the subtly and skill to thrive further forward, his best position perhaps not yet defined due to his multi-faceted talents.
It takes a special talent to break into the world champion’s squad at just 17, but there are few doubting Camavinga already belongs in such esteemed company.
Another teenage talent ready to make his senior international bow this week, Mason Greenwood has enjoyed a meteoric rise during a scintillating debut season in the Manchester United first-team.
Greenwood has emerged as one of the most feared finishers in the Premier League after hitting a hugely impressive 17 goals in all competitions for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side, the joint-most any teenager has ever scored for the club in a single campaign alongside Wayne Rooney, George Best and Brian Kidd.
The forward also became just the third player – and first since Michael Owen more than two decades ago – to score double figures for Premier League goals aged 18 or under, his repertoire of finishing marking Greenwood out as a potentially elite talent.
Likened to former Red Devils favourite Robin van Persie, Greenwood is the most exciting talent to emerge from Manchester United’s fabled academy season for several years, an effortlessly natural finisher and a player many are already tipping to shatter all sorts of goalscoring records.