European Under-21 Championships: Five to watch

Adam Maher made his Holland debut Belgium last year. Photo: PA

With the European Under-21 Championships starting this week in Israel, we take a look at five youngsters to watch out for.

Nir Biton (Israel)

The midfielder is the brightest prospect of his generation to come out of the Championships host nation. He has had two trial spells with Premier League big spenders Manchester City, appearing for the club on a pre-season tour to the Far East, but work permit problems saw a loan deal collapse. The Israeli skipper is a box-to-box midfielder, who is a constant threat from set-pieces thanks to his 6ft5" stature, but he also has an eye for a long-range strike. He is as comfortable breaking up play in the centre of the park, as he is instigating an attack. Biton currently turns out for boyhood side FC Ashdod and already boasts six full international caps for his country.

Adam Maher (Netherlands)

Despite only being 19, the AZ Alkmaar midfielder has already earned four caps for the Netherlands, and has been linked with a move to many of Europe's big clubs.The teenager is a quick, powerful and skilful attack-minded player who already has 66 club appearances to his name. He is a natural footballer, possessing great elegance and style on the ball, with the ability to break open a defence in a split-second of thinking. Maher was given his debut in a Europa League tie back in 2010, and made an immediate impression by scoring against BATE Borisov. He has been almost unstoppable since then, and won the Eredivise 'Young Player of the Year Award' for 2011/12.

Inigo Martinez (Spain)

Spanish centre-backs can be in short supply, hence why this Basque defender's rise to prominence has been of great interest to those who follow La Liga. The Real Sociedad man is a rarity in football - a defender who is comfortable on the ball, and also the owner of a quality left-foot. So good is Martinez's favoured boot, that he has twice scored goals from the halfway line in his relatively short career. Focussing on his shooting prowess would be wrong, as he is also an exceptional defender. His form for the San Sebastian outfit has seen the likes of Barcelona scout him, as they look to bolster a pretty flimsy defence this summer - he is seen as good balancing act for Gerard Pique.

Aleksandr Kokorin has 13 full international caps for Russia. Credit: PA

Tom Lees (England)

With all the hubbub about Wilfried Zaha and Thomas Ince, one can forget that there are other English starlets plying their trade in the Championship. Young Lees came through the ranks at Leeds, and did his time out on loan at Accrington Stanley and Bury, before becoming a first-team regular at Elland Road, where he has become an integral part of the side for the last two campaigns. One of his main attributes is his ability to read an opposing player, giving a great advantage in one-on-one situations. His consistency for the Yorkshire club saw him recognised by Stuart Pearce, who has thus far given the level-headed centre-back five caps for his Under-21 side.

Aleksandr Kokorin (Russia)

If you like your footballers a touch hotheaded, then this Dinamo Moscow forward could be the man for you. The 22-year-old struck 13 goals this season in just 27 appearances, but his indiscipline was also a cause for concern, especially after being sent off against Alania recently for a hideous two-footed lunge, which caused a brawl on the pitch. Away from infrequent violence, Kokorin is seen as the future of the Russian game thanks to his clinical finishing, which is aided by his ability to arrive late in the box for crosses and the speed to get him away from defenders.