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Five unexpected stars of the Euro 2024 group stage

Major tournaments are often springboard for unheralded names to make their mark and Euro 2024 has seen several stars surprisingly shine.

Here are five unexpected players who are sure to attract transfer interest after impressing at Euro 2024.

Georges Mikautadze (Georgia)

Georgia are the lowest-ranked team in the tournament at 74th in the world rankings but have impressed on their major tournament debut to reach the knockout rounds. Khvicha Kvaratskhelia and Giorgi Mamardashvili are the most recognisable names in Willy Sagnol’s squad and have lived up to that billing, though Georges Mikautadze is fast becoming a household name.

The forward has scored in each of Georgia’s three group games and is the current leader in the race for the Euro 2024, Golden Boot outscoring Kylian Mbappe, Romelu Lukaku, Cristiano Ronaldo and Harry Kane combined, and the entire team hauls from England and Belgium.

Mikautadze joined Ajax from Metz last summer but endured a difficult spell in the Eredivisie as he made just two league starts. He returned to Metz on loan in January and shone, scoring 14 times in 22 Ligue 1 appearances for the French side heading into Euro 2024.

That return, plus his involvement in Georgia’s memorable campaign this summer, will see the 23-year-old attract significant interest this summer.

Stefan Posch (Austria)

Stefan Posch helped Bologna upset the odds to secure Champions League qualification last season and has taken that confidence into Euro 2024. Part of an Austria team thriving under Ralf Rangnick, the full-back has epitomised the indefatigable style of Rangnick’s men who topped a group containing both France and the Netherlands.

He ranks second overall for tackles won at Euro 2024, following a fine season in Serie A that saw the 27-year-old rank in the top five percent of full-backs for touches, tackles, carrying distance, completed passes and progressive passing distance. The 6ft 2in defender can operate at right-back or centre-back and could be a smart pick-up this summer, as Bologna battle to keep their overachieving squad together.

Dan Ndoye (Switzerland)

Another member of Bologna’s impressive team, Dan Ndoye has been a bright spark in Switzerland’s campaign so far. The 23-year-old scored his first international goal during the 1-1 draw with Germany as Switzerland progressed to the Round of 16 without losing a game, becoming his nation’s second-youngest scorer at a European Championship.

The winger’s driving runs saw him among the most-fouled players in Serie A last season, after leading that metric in the Swiss Super League for FC Basel in 2022-23.

Manchester United and Inter Milan have been credited with interest.

Jaka Bijol (Slovenia)

Italian football appears to be the home of the unsung stars of Euro 2024’s group stage with Jaka Bijol impressing for Slovenia at centre-back.

The 25-year-old ranked near the top of Serie A’s metrics for clearances (10th), aerials won (10th) and percentage of aerials won (2nd – 76.4%) and has continued that form for the national team, leading Euro 2024 for clearances during the group stage.

Bijol began his career as a defensive midfielder and his distribution has been eye-catching for Slovenia, completing 12 long passes across his nation’s three fixtures, as Matjaž Kek’s progressed without losing a game and with just two goals conceded in a dour Group C.

It’s the first time Slovenia have reached the knockout rounds of a European Championship and Bijol has been central to their success. Inter Milan and Roma are rumoured to be interested in handing the defender a bigger platform, after narrowly avoiding relegation with Udinese last season.

Bariş Alper Yilmaz – Turkey

Bariş Alper Yilmaz is Turkey’s multi-functional physical phenomenon and has carried his form from Galatasaray’s record-breaking Turkish Süper Lig win into Euro 2024.

Last season, the 24-year-old scored six goals and provided six assists for Gala, having operated in both full-back positions, on either flank, and as a centre-forward. It was a breakout season for Alper Yilmaz, who has cemented a regular role in the Turkish team.

He led the line expertly in a man-of-the-match performance against the Czech Republic, as the inexhaustible forward completed five dribbles, won four fouls and won 10/13 duels contested.

Alper Yilmaz, alongside full-back pair Ferdi Kadioglu and Mert Müldür, has caught the eye for Vincenzo Montella’s team.

Read – Five players who deserve more minutes at Euro 2024

See more – Our Euro 2024 awards for the tournament’s group stage

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