Sergio Busquets has won every trophy there is to win as a footballer and he remains the heartbeat of the Spanish midfield
Credit: Kiko Huesca/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock /Shutterstock
Telegraph Sport’s stable of football writers have selected their best players at Euro 2021 and from that we have calculated the definitive list of the 50 brightest stars in action across Europe over the next month. Today we count down from 50 to 41 and will reveal the remaining players across the week.
50. Jude Bellingham (England)
England and Borussia Dortmund’s teenage sensation is one of the most exciting young players in world football. In his first season in Germany, following a £25m move from Birmingham City, Bellingham made 46 appearances for his club and starred in the Champions League. The 17-year-old plays with a composure and authority far beyond his years and could be crucial for England this summer.
Despite not yet reaching adulthood, Jude Bellingham looks completely at home in an England shirt
Credit: Eddie Keogh – The FA /The FA Collection
49. Giorgio Chiellini (Italy)
One of the great defenders of the modern game. Chiellini has the experience and the defensive ability to play a key part in Italy’s Euros campaign, even though his powers are clearly diminishing. At the age of 36, and with various injury problems over the last few years, he is no longer the player he was. He is still Italy’s natural leader, though, and his brain remains as sharp as ever.
48. Alexander Isak (Sweden)
Isak, a 21-year-old striker, represents the main threat for Sweden. He scored an impressive 17 goals in La Liga last season, when he was Real Sociedad’s main attacking option. Isak is seen as one of the Spanish league’s most thrilling young players and in recent weeks he has been linked with a move to Barcelona.
Alexander Isak (in yellow) is Sweden's main goal-scoring threat at Euro 2021
Credit: JONATHAN NACKSTRAND /AFP
47. Sergio Busquets (Spain)
Eight league titles, seven Copa del Rey victories, three Champions Leagues, three Club World Cups, a World Cup and a European Championship: Busquets has quite the CV. Spain are not as formidable as they were a decade ago, and neither is Busquets, but the 32-year-old remains a supreme central midfield player for club and country.
46. Presnel Kimpembe (France)
The Paris Saint-Germain defender does not have a huge amount of experience at international level but he has become a regular for France over the past year. Kimpembe made 40 appearances for PSG last season, the most he has ever made in one campaign. With Raphael Varane alongside him at centre-back, France boast a strong backline.
45. Manuel Neuer (Germany)
One of the first names on the team sheet for Bayern Munich and Germany, even at the age of 35, and probably the best goalkeeper of the past decade. Germany are a strange side, losing to North Macedonia in March and 6-0 to Spain in November, but their record in tournament football is frightening. Neuer has been there and done it all before, playing a crucial role in their 2014 World Cup triumph, and has the quality and leadership skills to do it again.
World Cup winner Manuel Neuer is an automatic starter for club and country
Credit: CHRISTOF STACHE /AFP
44. Leonardo Bonucci (Italy)
Bonucci has made more than 100 appearances for his country and, like Chiellini, he will provide a level of experience and leadership that could be vital this summer. His form has dipped in recent months, though, with Juventus finishing a disappointing fourth in Serie A. The 34-year-old played just 35 games last season, his lowest return in more than a decade.
43. Ryan Gravenberch (Holland)
This could be a breakout tournament for the latest gifted graduate of the Ajax academy. Gravenberch is an all-action midfielder who is often compared to Paul Pogba. The 19-year-old only made his senior international debut in March but he has the physical and technical ability to make a major impact this summer. Expect some of Europe’s biggest clubs to move for him soon.
Harry Magurire suffered an ankle ligament injury late in the Premier League season against Aston Villa that caused him to miss the Europa League final
Credit: Nick Potts/POOL/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock /Shutterstock
42. Harry Maguire (England)
Manchester United and England’s most reliable defender. Maguire’s fitness problems are a major concern for Gareth Southgate because his aerial ability, reading of the game and calmness on the ball makes him crucial to England’s style of play. It says plenty about his importance for his country that he will surely start in defence even if he is not fully fit.
41. Gianluigi Donnarumma (Italy)
Long seen as one of the world’s most promising goalkeepers, it is hard to believe that Donnarumma is still only 22 years old. The 6ft 5in goalkeeper has made 25 appearances for his country and has been the first-choice at Milan for six seasons already. He is set to change clubs this summer.