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 By Nick Miller

Five stars of the U21 Euros so far: Asensio, Mawson, Neves, Zima, Meyer

The Under-21 European Championships is down to the final four with England taking on Germany and Italy against Spain. Here are five young players to have taken the tournament by storm already.

Marco Asensio -- Spain

Marco Asensio has had a quick rise with Real Madrid.

Really, this tournament hasn't told us anything we don't already know about Marco Asensio. Of course he was sensational in Spain's first game against Macedonia, scoring a hat trick and occasionally looking like he was playing opponents a few years younger than him.

"He is a player that right now is graced with a magic touch," said teammate Dani Ceballos after that game. "If he continues on this path, working hard and being humble, he will do great things worldwide."

You might say he already has: Asensio has inevitably found consistent opportunities a little hard to come by at Real Madrid, but when he has been given a chance he's grabbed it with enthusiasm. Not too many players have scored in a Champions League final before the age of 21. The question now is whether he will be given the space to fully express his remarkable talents, at Real or elsewhere.

Alfie Mawson -- England

Alfie Mawson
Alfie Mawson should be a regular for Swansea next year.

There are a few more flamboyant, eye-catching players in the England team than the Swansea centre-back patrolling their defence. Nathan Redmond been threatening, James Ward-Prowse's free kicks have been deadly and Tammy Abraham has shown why he's so coveted. But probably their standout player in the tournament so far has been Alfie Mawson, who has offered a reassuring, calming presence alongside Calum Chambers at the back for England.

He chipped in with an important goal against Slovakia, bundled over the line when England looked in danger of departing the tournament early, but it's his assurance at the other end of the pitch that has been so notable out in Poland.

Mawson looked a little uncertain and perhaps out of his depth in the first half of last season, struggling slightly with the step up from Championship to Premier League, but after finding his feet he's been terrific.

He has also seemed to take on of a leadership role with England, on and off the pitch. "It was a little bit heated for a bit," said Mawson, about the "discussions" at half-time of the Slovakia game. "Some players were frustrated and I was frustrated at the way we'd conceded the goal... I was just saying that we needed to man-up, because there's no point saying the right things in the changing room and then not doing it on the pitch." Next season could be a big one.

Ruben Neves -- Portugal

Ruben Neves
Ruben Neves may look for a move this summer.

Having made his debut for the senior side aged just 18, back in 2015, Ruben Neves wasn't a million miles away from being named in the Portugal squad for Euro 2016. This will be his last outing in any form of youth football and he certainly looks very ready to progress, having excelled in Portugal's ultimately unsuccessful campaign in the sort of smart passing midfield role which not many players can handle.

Despite his obvious talent, Neves actually didn't have a stellar domestic season for Porto. Manager Nuno Espirito Santo was not convinced by him and he only made six starts, while last August he was seen in tears after Nuno reversed a decision to bring him off the bench.

That hasn't prevented the likes of Liverpool, Chelsea and Juventus reportedly keeping a very close eye on the midfielder, and on the evidence of his performances in Poland, they would get a good player.

Lukas Zima -- Czech Republic

Lukas Zima
Lukas Zima will hope to have impressed his club Genoa.

This European Championships has not been short of hugely promising goalkeepers. Italy's Gianluigi Donnarumma is of course the most high-profile and probably most talented; Jordan Pickford's kicking alone is worth a big chunk of the £30m Everton paid for the England man; Serbia's Filip Manojlovic was a big reason why they only lost 1-0 to Spain in their final group game. But perhaps the most eye-catching goalie so far has been the Czech Republic's Lukas Zima.

Signed by Genoa in 2014, Zima has spent most of his first two years on loan at assorted other Italian teams, but spent most of last season on his parent club's bench.

Perhaps his showings in Poland might convince them, or someone else, that he's worth a try in their starting XI: he saved a penalty in the 2-0 defeat to Germany and frustrated Italy as the Czechs won by the same scoreline.

Max Meyer -- Germany

Max Meyer is attracting plenty of attention this summer.

Already a fixture of transfer rumour pages due to links with Tottenham/Liverpool/Chelsea, Germany's Max Meyer won't be staying at Schalke but has certainly given clubs some food for thought with his performances.

Meyer has probably been Germany's outstanding player in the tournament so far, despite almost missing it with a bout of flu. A smart playmaker, most good things that his team have done go through him: a sharp finish from the edge of the box opened the scoring for Germany against the Czech Republic, and since then Meyer has been more quietly impressive.

"Max has matured very much in recent years," said Horst Hrubesch, former Under-21s coach and current director at the DFB. "He is growing up. It's great that he wants to take responsibility and lead the team. He has what it takes. "

Nick Miller is a writer for ESPN FC, covering Premier League and European football. Follow him on Twitter @NickMiller79.

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