It's every player’s dream is to represent their national team on the biggest stage of them all, but not just as a bit-part member of the squad, but as one of the key performers. Here, we take a look at five footballers who will be looking to have their names shine in lights at Euro 2020.
Bruno Fernandes (Portugal)
The Portuguese maestro is expected to be in Cristiano Ronaldo’s shadow for the defending champions, but after the campaign he’s had with Manchester United, Bruno Fernandes could possibly be the leading star in this team.
After banging in 28 goals and assisting his teammates a further 17 times in 58 matches across all competitions for Manchester United, Fernandes will be heavily relied on for Portugal from the midfield area.
His ability from set-pieces and his excellent range of passing are his greatest attributes, and with Ronaldo ahead of him making runs through the middle, the Portuguese magnifico’s job will be so much easier.
Dani Olmo (Spain)
Spain have been pitted in a fairly favourable group, alongside Sweden, Poland and Slovakia, so we should see some of Luis Enrique’s men stand head and shoulders above the rest and guide their nation to glory next month.
One player who is expected to stand out amongst a great bunch will be Dani Olmo. The RB Leipzig attacking midfielder, who can also operate on either flank or play as a false nine, will be hoping to make a name for himself on the international stage.
The 23-year-old has worked his way through the Barcelona academy, before making his move to Dinamo Zagreb, where he was quickly snatched up by Leipzig. Olmo’s numbers may not be the greatest, but for anybody who has seen him play would see that the creative Leipzig star doesn’t need to give off the final ball to create a goal-scoring opportunity.
Youri Tielemans (Belgium)
Many pundits seem to have written off Belgium’s chances. With De Bruyne set to miss a few games and number of their golden generation getting on in age, one player many football lovers seem to have forgotten is Youri Tielemans.
The 24-year-old deep-lying playmaker comes off the back of a successful season with Leicester City, where he scored the winning goal in the FA Cup final against Chelsea, earning the Foxes’ first-ever FA Cup triumph.
Tielemans’ superb display with Leicester City has sen him linked with some of the biggest clubs in the world, namely Liverpool, Manchester United and Inter Milan. More of what he has done at club level and Tielemans could well be worth over £70m.
Dean Henderson (England)
A very unpopular selection but Dean Henderson could be one player to keep an eye on during the Euro tournament. Much of the focus will be on England’s most attacking players and who fits Gareth Southgate’s system, but one player who has and should stamp his authority as the Three Lions’ number one is the Manchester United shot-stopper.
The 24-year-old goalkeeper spent the season prior at loan to Sheffield United, before earning his stripes as United’s number one, kicking David De Gea off his perch. Henderson has conceded 22 goals in 26 games for Manchester United this past season, keeping 13 clean sheets in that period.
Based on how England set up, Henderson should be well-protected, whilst also being able to have a helping hand where necessary. It just remains to be seen whether or not Southgate persists with the error-prone Jordan Pickford.
Frenkie de Jong (Netherlands)
All lovers of the Netherlands will have their hopes and dreams of winning the Euros set on Frenkie de Jong. After the news broke that his midfield compatriot Donny van de Beek will miss the Euros through injury, coupled with the fact that Virgil van Dijk will also miss out on the tournament, much of Holland’s chances will rest on de Jong’s shoulders.
Being 24-years-old now, de Jong is finally coming of age and will be ready to re-establish himself on the European setting after what has been a rocky period at Barcelona. De Jong’s creativity from a deeper role allows him to have a clearer vision of the players making runs in front of him, while the lean wizard also has the ability to take a few players out of the game by just the drop of the shoulder.
If de Jong is in the mood, Netherlands have every bit of a chance.