Euro 2016 didn’t exactly go the way we wanted – in fact it’s been pitiful from an English point of view – but several players in other teams have excelled. Notably, players from the so-called smaller nations have proven their mettle against the so-called bigger guns. Here are several players who might be heading for greener pastures during the 2016-17 season. And no, there aren’t any England stars in here, not even that cursed lion with no name.
The West Ham mohawk maverick is well-known to English fans. Playing in the pressure of a home tournament is different to the Premier League, but whether fans saw his performances in the stands at the last ever season at the Boleyn Ground, or on their TV sets purchased from AO.com or elsewhere, it’s fair to say he’s lived up to his billing. With eye-catching goals and several great set pieces blended into his powerful performances it’s no surprise that the big dogs have been looking closely. Real Madrid have been linked, and the fee will probably be somewhere in the £35-40m mark – not bad for a 29-year-old.
Where to start? The Nordic minnows saw off far bigger fish to secure a quarter final berth, with several players proving to be adept at fitting into a team structure under pressure and showing no little skill in the process. The team is formed of players from Basel, Cardiff City, Cesena, Molde and notably Charlton. The most likely to go elsewhere are probably Sigthorsson (Nantes) and Sigurdsson (Krasnodar) the scourges of England.
Surprise packages Hungary may have been dismantled by Belgium in the last 16 but the 20-year-old Ferencvaros pivot Nagy acquitted himself well with stability in the midfield alongside Zoltan Gera. Having won the title in Hungary, Nagy might be available at a good price for many of the European heavyweight and middleweight teams.
The versatile Brady scored two Republic of Ireland goals at crucial times against European giants Italy and France. Those highlight reel moments and his overall energetic play mean that the Championship surely won’t be his home next season, and according to the Daily Mirror at least four Premier League teams are in the hunt, including champions Leicester.
Wales’ rise towards footballing immortality – or at least a semi-final – has been built on teamwork and plenty of quiet but vital work. Case study number one: Joe Allen, who has done plenty of the dirty stuff to feed the creative talents of Bale, Ramsey and co. Underused and seemingly undervalued by Liverpool, with just 17 league appearances last campaign, either Klopp will give him more prominence next season or he’ll be moving on.
The Azzurri acquitted themselves well for the ‘worst Italian side ever’. Bonucci has been linked with a move to join his national boss Conte at Chelsea, while most of the others will either remain where they are or command huge fees. The one figure who might move on is the diminutive Giaccherini – a Sunderland winger on loan at Bologna – who may transfer in the winter if not bagged in the next month or so.
Where these players will head is difficult to predict; within a year or two they could find themselves playing in the glorious stadiums of European giants to be viewed by millions every week on giant TV sets in bars across the world, or they could return to footballing obscurity – but at least they’ll have the memories of France.