Euro 2020: Ones to Watch
Written by The Final Ball on 11/06/2021
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To finish off the Euro preview series, we’re going to an XI of “ones to watch”!
Currently jobless (PSG move hasn’t been confirmed as I type), Gianluigi finally gets his chance as the first choice Italian after 250 caps for AC Milan. But not only is this a job audition, but he’s also attempting to fill the gloves of Buffon (who could never quite let them go) and establish himself as one of the top keepers in Europe. With Bonucci in front of him, there’s plenty experience to guide him through but the pressure has never been greater for the young italian
Coming off the back of winning the Ligue 1 title with Lille, Celik has the opportunity to showcase his talents and follow the same path of most Lille players in getting a move to a bigger club. And with a dearth of top quality right backs(unless they’re English), this Turkey team seems like the right place to emerge from a major tournament
The 2019 golden boy hasn’t quite lived up to his billing or his price tag since his big move to Juventus, but when the narrative is so focused on Ronaldo or whoever the manager is, it’s difficult to determine whether or not he’s actually improved. And with Van Dijk out (only attending on a consultant basis), the Oranje spotlight is well and truly on him to deliver as he returns back to the stadium that he made his name in for Ajax
Combine the controversy of changing allegiance from the World Cup winners with the exclusion of Sergio Ramos, Laporte has now become the poster boy of the Spanish defence that he’s only spent a few days with. Although the move was a no-brainer, the timing has added a drama to it that the world will keep an eye on, especially after a season where he’s gone from the mainstay of the City defence to a benchwarmer
Coming into an unbalanced squad, Robin Gosens is still a bit of an unknown quality to the biggest stage, despite already being 26 (27 in July). But his marauding runs for Atalanta will be an asset for this Germany squad, as they look to bring a secret weapon to the “Group of Death”
The focus has been on the Henderson injury and the emergence of Jude Bellingham, but the talents of Kalvin Phillips seems like something that this England squad needs to tap into. Can dictate a game, pick out passes, comfortable in tight spaces and can even defend in one-on-one situations. With the Biesla-ball engine, surely this is the no.6 that England have been looking for? The love for Declan Rice means that it’s likely that Phillips gets a similar treatment that Michael Carrick & Owen Hargreaves received
With the plethora of talent at their disposal, the Italians could pick any of their midfielders without the quality diminishing, but Nicolo Barella will surely be on the pitch for every single minute available. A willing runner with an eye for a pass, Barella is the perfect modern day midfielder that will run every opposition into the ground and could inspire a big money move for him whilst Inter continue with their financial issues
After spending 2 years being linked to the Premier League’s top clubs, everything has gone quiet for Denis Zakaria as he has seemed to struggle in the past season as Gladbach fell out of European contention in the Bundesliga. But international competitions is always a good way to put yourself on the market (just ask Diouf), and with teams like West Ham, Villarreal & Wolfsburg looking to usurp the bigger clubs, a good tournament enticing a move to a new club could be the ignition that his career needs
A football manager legend, Viktor looks set to follow a similar path as his predecessors Yarmaloneko & Konoplyanka. With UCL & UEL experience already on his CV for Dynamo Kiev and still only 23, teams like Lyon who are set to lose big talents could do worse than replacing Depay with the Ukranian starlet. With a favourable group, he’s likely to get a few goals and create a hype that will bring joy to the pockets of Dynamo Kiev
Another football manager find, Brekalo has the opportunity to be the next big player to come out of the Croatian conveyor belt. After a solid season getting Wolfsburg into the UCL, as long as he continues with his performance levels on the international stage, by the time the World Cup comes around, he is likely to become the go-to guy once Modric’s legs fall off
A tight call between him and Malen for Holland, Alexander Isak seems like he’s on his way to becoming an Everton target unless he improves on his consistency. After not succeeding at Dortmund, winning the Copa Del Rey with Soceidad will hopefully have given him the confidence required to succeed at this level. The anticipated return of Zlatan looked to ease the pressure on him, but his injury has now if anything, increased the spotlight on him.