With the Euros fast approaching and with many players not only looking to perform well for their nation, but also catch the eye of a few potential suitors and make a name for themselves, I thought I’d pick out the best players to look out for, with this second piece in the series looking at the potential key men in Group B.
Name: Dele Alli
Club: Tottenham Hotspur
Voted the PFA Young Player of the Year in his first full campaign at White Hart Lane, Dele Alli is one of the players that makes this England side so exciting. A wonder goal on his international debut against France tore apart any concerns about the international stage being too much for him and his technical ability is remarkable – his volley against Crystal Palace just another example of his talent.
It is his driving energy that gives him such a presence on the ball and the flexibility to play behind the strikers or in a wider position makes him excellent for tournament football. He has an inner rebel, as proved by the punch he swung at Claudio Yacob, but if he can keep his emotions under control then he could produce the magic England fans know he’s capable of.
Name: Alexander Golovin
Club: CSKA Moscow
A UEFA European Under-17 champion with his country’s under-17s, Golovin broke into the senior team at CSKA in March last year and has since established himself as an exciting and talent player. He made his debut for Russia just three months later and has scored twice in his three games at senior international level. He can play wide left and is known to cut in to shoot on his stronger right foot but it is in the central position that he excels, driving forwards and taking on defenders with tricky footwork. He is unproven but the tournament could provide the perfect platform to springboard him to fame.
Name: Ondrej Duda
Club: Legia Warsaw
Duda is the rising star in the Slovakian national team. He made his international debut in November 2014, coming off the bench to replace Marek Hamsik – the man who many have tipped Duda to fllow in the footsteps of. Unfortunately, he may be most famous for being hit by a rock while playing for Legia Warsaw in a subsequently abandoned fixture against FK Kukesi, but Euro 2016 will be his opportunity to announce himself to the big clubs of Europe. Rumour has it that Arsenal are interested in the youngster and a good performance in this tournament could seal a move, especially if he plays up to the comparisons that have been made between him and PSG’s Angel Di Maria.
Name: Hal Robson-Kanu
It is no secret that Gareth Bale is the biggest threat in the Wales squad and opponents will be working out strategies to stop the world’s most expensive footballer. However, it is this obsession with Bale that allows Wales’ other players to put in important performances under the radar and Robson-Kanu exemplifies this.
He played in every qualification game but one and is versatile enough to play centrally or take up his preferred position on the wing. So much of his important work is done off the ball as he runs the channels and drags defenders away for the likes of Bale to exploit the space. His impact may not be as obvious in terms of statistics but he is a vital part of a team that is often dismissed as only having one good player.