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Over the last few months, Pedri has been the name on everybody's lips.  

After making 52 appearances in the 2020/21 season for Barcelona, the teenager was a key player for Spain. In fact, he only missed one minute of their Euro 2020 campaign.  

During the competition, the young midfielder:  

  • made the most solo runs into the attacking third (27)  

  • made the most key passes (11)  

  • covered the most distance in possession (38.23 km)  

  • achieved a pass completion average of 91%  

  • had 30 touches per 90 minutes in the attacking third (fifth-highest for a central midfielder)  

  • created 11 goalscoring opportunities for his teammates.  

These impressive stats saw him voted the best young player in Euro 2020. Plus, he was also the only Spanish player to be named in the team of the tournament.  

Pedri is a great technician in the middle of the pitch. To develop players like this, we need to work on dribbling and moving with the ball. Our teams must also be able to drive into space, stay on the ball and change direction. These skills help players find solutions to their in-game problems.  

 

Jannik Vestergaard may be a surprise name on this list.  

To many, a tall central defender isn't an obvious 'skilful' player. But we believe everyone can be skilful, regardless of their position on the pitch. Vestergaard demonstrated this throughout the tournament. As an essential part of the Danish defence, he played in every game and helped his team reach the semi-final. This was their best finish since 1992.  

The defender, who has recently joined Leicester City, displayed excellent ability in the air. He competed for 27 aerial duels and won 17.  

Vestergaard also showed confidence in possession. He looked for progressive passes and was happy to get on the ball and step into midfield. This made him vital to Denmark's build-up play. A great example is his role in Denmark's second goal against the Czech Republic.  

On average, Vestergaard attempted 49 passes per 90 minutes, with 38% of them going forward. This ranks him 20th out of 75 centre-back with at least two appearances.  

Vestergaard demonstrates the importance of all players being comfortable on the ball and having good perception skills. For future defenders, it's essential to be able to step out of the defensive line and into midfield. In today's game, centre-backs use this technique to apply pressure on an opponent or to drive forward with the ball.  

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Italy's Gianluigi Donnarumma was named player of the tournament following a string of impressive performances. (Image: Valerio Pennicino/UEFA via Getty Images).
Italy's Gianluigi Donnarumma was named player of the tournament following a string of impressive performances. (Image: Valerio Pennicino/UEFA via Getty Images).

Leonardo Spinazzola certainly made a big impression at Euro 2020. He was named player of the match against Turkey and against Austria. 

Despite only playing four games due to injury, Spinazzola's performances saw him named in the team of the tournament. The left-sided full-back, who's also comfortable playing further forward in midfield, was the quickest player at Euro 2020. Plus, he created almost two chances every 90 minutes.  

To help players recreate Spinazzola's runs and positions, use practices that allow them to run into big spaces. If it's appropriate for your team, try altering the size of your pitch. Using longer areas in your sessions will provide more opportunities for forward runs and penetrations – with and without the ball.  

 

It's sometimes hard to believe that Gianluigi Donnarumma is only 22 years of age – especially given how experienced he is already. His debut at AC Milan came at just 16 years old.  

Nowadays, the 6ft 6in shot-stopper has over 30 senior caps for the Italian national side. Donnarumma played 719 minutes across Euro 2020 (more than anyone else) and didn't concede a goal during the group stages. Plus, he won all his aerial duals and had a pass completion rate of 81%.  

With those stats, it was no surprise to see Donnarumma named 'Player of the Tournament'. You don't need to be an outfield player to demonstrate exceptional talent and skill. Stopping goals is just as important as creating and scoring them. And that's the message that we need to spread.  

Stereotypically, there might not be many putting their hand up to go in net – especially if you work with young players. But, with a safe environment and plenty of encouragement, they might be more willing to give it a go.  

If you work with older players and have set goalkeepers, always keep them involved in your practices. Like Donnarumma, the modern-day goalkeeper has to be able to play with their feet too. Try actively using your keepers in possession-based sessions, or even getting them to play outfield in training. 

Article image courtesy of Fran Santiago/UEFA via Getty Images.