Scout report: The players to watch at Euro 2024

Euro 2024 is fast approaching — and the draw for many fans will be the opportunity to watch some of the continent’s biggest stars.

Most of them, with the notable exception of Erling Haaland, will be in action in Germany this summer.

So we’ve used Twenty3’s Toolbox to take a closer look at a handful of the best players heading to the tournament.

Kylian Mbappé (France)

Arguably the biggest star in global football — let alone Europe — Mbappé appears to be getting better each season.

That he is now 25 and approaching his prime is a daunting prospect for any defender with the misfortune of coming up against him.

The Paris Saint-Germain forward was typically influential in qualifying, scoring nine goals in eight matches — a total only bettered by Cristiano Ronaldo (10) and Romelu Lukaku (13).

But Mbappé is not just a goalscorer. He is a ball carrier, ranking fourth in qualifying for attempted dribbles (65). And he is capable of providing for his team-mates, too, registering three assists.

No player in qualifying completed more link-up plays (113) or had more touches in the opposition box (63).

Mbappé heads into the tournament after yet another season as Ligue 1 top scorer and as the Golden Boot winner at the 2022 World Cup.

And given his performance in the final in Qatar, he has an insatiable hunger to win everything at international level.

If he is on top form this summer, France will go far.

Bruno Fernandes (Portugal)

Bruno Fernandes starred for Manchester United in a challenging season — and has been similarly impressive on the international stage with Portugal.

He was top of the assist charts in qualifying (seven) and made more key passes than anyone else (13).

The 29-year-old also ranked first for through passes completed (16) and open-play expected assists (4.24).

His creativity will be invaluable for the Seleção, who under Roberto Martínez looked the most potent attacking team in qualifying.

Ronaldo top scored but Fernandes contributed with six goals of his own, while Bernardo Silva, Gonçalo Ramos, João Cancelo and João Félix all netted three.

With such enviable attacking options and in a more forward-thinking team, it is no surprise that Fernandes has thrived.

He has undoubtedly produced moments of brilliance at Old Trafford in 2023/24 — such as his superb first-time lob over Caoimhin Kelleher against Liverpool, and his assist for Kobbie Mainoo in the FA Cup final.

But Martínez appears to have unlocked the best version of a player who is capable, on his day, of deciding games at the highest level.

Jérémy Doku (Belgium)

Jérémy Doku’s first season at Manchester City started well but has not always been smooth sailing.

Though he has been a constant threat for Premier League full-backs, the winger might have expected a greater return than six top-flight assists and three goals.

But that productivity is likely to come with time and his debut campaign under Pep Guardiola has been largely positive.

And on the international stage, Doku has become increasingly influential.

No player in qualifying registered more successful attacking actions than the 21-year-old (74), and he ranked first for dribbles completed (60).

Doku is, quite literally, a player to watch, simply because his explosive pace and endless desire to run at defenders is enough to get any football fan’s heart racing.

There will be plenty of that in Germany this summer as he looks to provide chances for Lukaku.

The aim for Doku will be to refine his end product and finish the tournament with a healthy tally of assists.

Dominik Szoboszlai (Hungary)

Premier League fans — and particularly those of a Liverpool persuasion — will be very familiar with Dominik Szoboszlai by now.

The 23-year-old enjoyed an excellent first season in England, developing his game to become a slightly deeper-lying operator in Jürgen Klopp’s midfield.

He has adapted impressively to a new league and a new system: no Liverpool player attempted more pressing duels (144) or covered more ground (42,546).

For Hungary, though, Szoboszlai is very much a No10, his country’s chief creator and an attacking talisman.

He scored four goals and provided three assists in qualifying, ranking first for shots from free-kicks (11) and third for dribbles completed (40).

His more advanced role for the Magyars is further evidence of his impressive versatility. Few midfielders at this summer’s tournament are more intelligent than Szoboszlai.

And his ability to create something from nothing, to make the right decision under pressure and to create or score from a set-piece, could be what makes Euro 2024 a memorable one for Hungary.

Manuel Akanji (Switzerland)

Defenders are rarely the star of the show, but those that play for Manchester City are setting the standard across Europe.

Manuel Akanji, after another strong season in the Premier League, will be an integral part of Murat Yakin’s possession-based Switzerland team.

The vast majority of their attacking moves start with the centre-back, who ranked first for forward passes completed in qualifying (272).

With a leading 900 passes completed in total, Akanji is essentially a playmaker for the Swiss.

No player in qualifying made more progressive runs (49) and he featured in a staggering 503 possessions over the course of the campaign.

Keep an eye on Akanji in Germany, then. You’ll likely be seeing a lot of him — carrying the ball out from defence and looking to play an incisive, line-breaking pass when possible. If not, retaining possession is the aim of the game.

The 28-year-old was solid defensively in qualifying, too. He ranked in the top ten for ball recoveries completed (116) and loose ball duels won (20).

For those who appreciate the art of defending, Akanji is the man to watch this summer.

All graphics in this article were produced with the Twenty3 Toolbox. For more information, please get in touch below.