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 third piece in the series looking at the potential key men in Group C.
Name: Leroy Sané
The Schalke winger is on the radar of Manchester City after a fine season in which he contributed eight league goals and six assists. He is the next big thing in Germany and his stylish and graceful wing play would do even his mother, an Olympic rhythmic gymnast medallist, proud. His ability to dazzle on the wing or play more of a playmaker role makes him a useful tournament player and, although he is only a back-up option in this tournament, if given the chance he is sure to produce some magic moments.
Name: Conor Washington
Club: Queens Park Rangers
While Kyle Lafferty is the main danger man in Northern Ireland’s attack, Washington provides something different and forced his way into the squad after scoring against Slovenia. He was working as a postman during the last Euros but, given his chance in senior football by St Ives Town, he proceeded to score 52 goals in 52 games and has delivered wherever he has played. His ability to square off defenders and surge through defences has earned him his place in the Northern Ireland squad and he will be a great asset to their Euro 2016 campaign.
Name: Arkadiusz Milik
Poland are blessed with one of the most dangerous strikers in Europe in Robert Lewandowski but being a huge star in the national team often leads to getting marked out of the game by opposition defenders. This is where Milik comes in – the Ajax man scored 21 league goals this season and partners Lewandowski up front for the national team. Milik scored five goals in Poland’s qualifying campaign and provides the perfect partner for Lewandowski with a cannon of a left foot. Poland are no longer a counter-attacking side, favouring possession under manager Adam Nawalka, so Milik’s clinical finishing suits the new identity.
Name: Yevhen Konoplyanka
Konoplyanka may not be a new name to many of you but he is a key player in Ukraine’s attacking lineup and, if he’s at his best, will be the one who makes things happen. You might have read his damning remarks about English football during speculation that he would join the Premier League, but on the pitch his talent is clear and his Wembley goal in 2012 sticks in the mind as an England fan. He is a classic winger in many respects – frightening pace and tricky feet with a constant desire to put the ball in the box – but he can find the net himself and is prone to a long range wonder goal every so often. Ukraine’s setup is heavily focussed on counter-attacking football so expect to see him charging down the wing on the break.