No sooner have the domestic seasons in Europe finished than the delayed European Championships are on the immediate horizon.
Just three weeks separate the two, and for any Man City or Chelsea players who will be representing their countries, they’ll only have a fortnight between the Champions League final and the Euros. Relentless!
The usual names will be there of course, but what about those who are not yet household names, with respect, but who could become the stars of the tournament?
Let’s take a look at a few potential Euro 2020 stars…
Dani Olmo - Spain
Spain aren’t quite the force they were a decade or so ago, but that’s not to say they’ll be pushovers in the tournament.
They’ve plenty of young talent coming through, and in Luis Enrique, they have a coach who is willing to let them spread their wings in the senior squad.
RB Leipzig’s Dani Olmo is one such player, and the 23-year-old certainly has the skill to make his mark.
His professional career has been spent outside of La Liga, firstly at Dinamo Zagreb and latterly in the Bundesliga, but it’s surely only a matter of time before one of the big guns in his home country test the waters with a bid.
They’d be getting a player who generally plays the No.10 role, but can operate right across the front line, and one who has a penchant for the spectacular – as his stunning recent goal against Georgia shows.
DANI OLMO HITS A 92ND MINUTE WINNER FOR SPAIN 🔥 pic.twitter.com/lOgazukUMJ
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) March 28, 2021
Alexander Isak - Sweden
Though Zlatan Ibrahimovic hasn’t yet given up hope of playing in the Euros for Sweden, his latest injury looks to have curtailed his last hurrah.
It’s not all bad news for the Swedes though, particularly with Real Sociedad’s Alexander Isak in such commanding form for the Basques this season.
Still relatively unknown outside of La Liga, the 21-year-old has long been termed the ‘new Zlatan,’ and this tournament finally gives him the opportunity to step out of the shadows and announce himself to a wider audience.
At 6ft 4in, Isak is superb in the air, but he also has pace and skill. His touch is first class too, which is unusual for a bigger target man.
Expect him to be Sweden’s biggest threat if Zlatan finally succumbs to old father time.
— LaLiga English (@LaLigaEN) February 26, 2021
In a group that also features Austria, North Macedonia and the Netherlands, Ukraine should be able to progress, however, they’ll need all their players to be at their best.
Ruslan Malinovskiy, at 28 years of age, is fast approaching the veteran stage, and yet, despite being a standout player for his club side, Atalanta, not an awful lot is known about him.
As something of a dead-ball King, we can expect he will take most of Ukraine’s free-kicks, and given his accuracy with either foot, the midfielder will want to get forward at every opportunity to have a shot on goal himself.
Not quite the engine room, he is, nonetheless, pivotal for his side, as the amount of goals and assists he’s registered in 2020/21 would attest.
Atalanta answers quickly!
— The Tutto Posto Podcast (@TheTuttoPosto) May 19, 2021
Enes Ünal - Turkey
Little known outside of LaLiga, Getafe’s Enes Ünal was on Manchester City’s books as a teenager.
Now 24, he is fearless as a striker who enjoys working both channels as required for the Madrid-based side.
He is a very willing runner who likes getting into the box, and whilst he could sharpen up on his finishing, there’s no denying his work rate.
A threat from crosses due to his size, his intelligent movement off the ball mean he is going to be a handful for any defence at the European Championship.
Further, he enjoys the direct approach when bearing down on defenders during a counter-attack, and will always aim to get in behind given half the chance.
Underestimate him at your peril.
— ► BURSADA SPOR (@Bursadaspor16) April 25, 2021
The biggest compliment that one can pay 23-year-old attacking midfielder, Matteo Pessina, is that talisman, Papu Gomez, hasn’t really been missed since he signed for Sevilla.
Atalanta continue to break up the monopoly of the top teams in Italy and that’s as much down to Pessina as anything else.
A player who enjoys finding space where there appears to be none, his range of passing is immaculate, and ‘eye of the needle’ balls are his food and drink.
Tellingly, in games against Liverpool, Ajax and Napoli in recent times, Pessina has stood out for his craft, guile, sheer will to win and the ability to decide a game.
Matteo Politano & Matteo Pessina scored 2 goals apiece as Italy recorded a 7-0 thrashing of San Marino in their friendly pic.twitter.com/ukGEeFlKyv
— EPLSL (@EPLSL) May 29, 2021