Throughout this century, the Swiss national team has been blessed with an array of talents.
Switzerland are ranked 12th in the world, a testament to their progress and track record of reaching major tournaments. Vladimir Petković’s squad is full of top European players, but what about the next generation? Who are the up-and-coming Swiss youngsters, and the main stars who will become the next veterans?
Looking ahead to the next generation of the Nati, this is how the Switzerland side of the future could line up.
Goalkeeper: Jonas Omlin
While he is yet to earn his first Switzerland cap, Omlin is one for the future. The 26-year-old has had an outstanding season for FC Basel, proving himself as one of the finest goalkeepers in the Super League with 11 clean sheets.
Yann Sommer remains the Nati’s number one, and although he looks set to continue for another few years, Omlin can be his successor. He will have to wait for his chance in goal, but could become an unstoppable goalkeeper when the time arrives.
Left-back: Ricardo Rodríguez
Having made his debut in 2011, Rodríguez has been a first-choice defender through three major tournaments. His place in the starting eleven is all but secure for EURO 2020, as he looks set to be Switzerland’s left-back for the foreseeable future.
Centre-back: Nico Elvedi
Elvedi has struggled to break in ahead of Fabian Schär and Manuel Akanji, but will soon be at the heart of the defence. He is already one of Borussia Mönchengladbach’s standout players aged 23, showing promise in recent years when giving the chance by Petković.
Centre-back: Eray Cömert
Although he only played 35 minutes, Cömert’s debut against Gibraltar was a long-awaited sight. FC Basel have lost all three league games he has missed, and he can be one of the Nati’s best defenders of the decade. He may have to wait to dethrone Schär or Akanji, but the goal for now is to make the EURO 2020 squad next summer.
Right-back: Kevin Mbabu
Stephan Lichtsteiner’s gametime is continuing to decrease, but Switzerland have nothing to worry about with Mbabu coming through. The 25-year-old has begun his breakthrough into the Swiss setup, playing 50% of all games since the 2018 World Cup.
His quality has been evident when playing for Wolfsburg, and it is just a matter of time before Mbabu completely ousts Lichtsteiner. He will be one of Petković’s top talents within a few years, offering a breath of fresh air and blistering pace at the back.
Defensive midfielder: Granit Xhaka
When Lichtsteiner retires and hangs up the captain’s armband, Xhaka will take over as captain. He has been incredibly consistent for Switzerland and has grown to become a key player, as he remains on track to become just the fifth man to earn 100 Nati caps.
Defensive midfielder: Denis Zakaria
One of Europe’s most exciting yet underrated stars, Zakaria will be Petković’s next big midfield talent. His potential has shone through since his debut in 2016, and ever since Valon Behrami retired two years ago, he has nailed down his place in midfield to form a strong partnership with Xhaka.
Left winger: Noah Okafor
The youngest player to feature in this lineup, Okafor only made his international debut last June against England. The 20-year-old has since earned a big move to RB Salzburg from FC Basel, winning the Austrian double within six months.
His versatility across the attack will be a valuable asset to Petković, who will likely deploy him on the left wing. While he is at least a few years away from being a first-team regular, he is definitely one to watch out for in the future.
Attacking midfielder: Breel Embolo
Embolo can be the natural successor to Xherdan Shaqiri, with the transition potentially happening sooner than expected. Another versatile attacker who is going to be a crucial player going forward, the Borussia Mönchengladbach forward could play in behind a lone striker, as well as up front or out wide.
Right winger: Ruben Vargas
With Vargas and Okafor on the wings, Switzerland could be an attacking force to reckon with. Currently at Bundesliga outfit Augsburg, Vargas impressed with a goal and an assist in the 6-1 thrashing of Gibraltar last November, helping the Swiss qualify for EURO 2020.
Petković will be looking to integrate the young attacking pair in the coming years, especially with Steven Zuber and Shaqiri suffering from recent injuries. Vargas has a lot of time and development ahead of him, as he continues to find his way into the senior side.
Striker: Cedric Itten
The last international break was the breakthrough for Itten, scoring three goals in his first two games. His goalscoring prowess has continued for title challenging St. Gallen, where he is the Super League’s second top scorer with 15 goals at the time of writing.
Haris Seferović remains the starting striker, but Itten’s goalscoring instinct and clinical form is exactly what the Swiss need. The 23-year-old will surely be in the Nati’s Nations League squad in the autumn, and will one day be Petković’s man to lead the line in an exciting Switzerland setup.