The European Championship, also known as the Euro, was pushed to 2021 from 2020 as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. This decision has turned out to be a silver lining for some. The squads for the national teams were ready last year, however, those not fortunate enough to be considered in 2020 have now been given a golden chance to stake their claim as to why they should be considered.
Which players have benefited from the Euros being pushed back until now? Here, we look at the most exciting players that are now ready to take center stage across the continent.
Jack Grealish – England
Before the coronavirus outbreak wreaked havoc in football, Aston Villa and their club captain Jack Grealish was facing a fight for Premier League survival. Grealish was Villa’s standout performer in the survival that was achieved after football was resumed.
In the 2020 squad, it seemed to be a sensible choice for Gareth Southgate to not select Grealish, considering the wealth in talent England already has in that position. However, now with just a few months until the Euros and Grealish already proving his worth, there will be a real outcry if Villa’s skipper doesn’t make the newly-extended 26-man squad.
Allan Saint-Maximin – France
At the age of 24, Newcastle United’s attacker Allan Saint-Maximin is yet to be called up to France’s national squad.
You would think that considering the attacking wealth the French already possess, it didn’t seem like Saint-Maximin had a chance of breaking into the squad last year.
However, his impressive performances in the latter stages of this season where he is arguably single-handedly dragging Newcastle out of their relegation battle is making people stand up and take notice.
Unlike most names on this list, there’s no guarantee that Saint-Maximin will get that call-up for this summer’s Euros. However, should he finally get the nod, this extra year will prove to be extremely significant.
Ryan Gravenberch – The Netherlands
Ajax’s Ryan Gravenberch has been hailed as the next big thing and is even being touted as ‘better than Paul Pogba’. Liverpool, Manchester United, and Barcelona among others are all in the hunt for the 18-year-old’s signature, and come summer they may be treated to see what he can do on one of European football’s biggest stages.
In March, Frank de Boer handed Gravenberch his senior debut for Holland, where he featured in all three of their World Cup qualifier wins against Turkey, Latvia, and Gibraltar.
It is likely Gravenberch, who operates as a central midfielder, will make the full Holland squad for the Euros given how he’s already created such a big name for himself.
Ansu Fati – Spain
Barcelona have always been able to rely on their famed academy in order to produce some of the game’s best talents and Ansu Fati is one of those. The 18-year-old Spanish winger broke records for Barcelona by becoming the youngest scorer last year and in September he was handed his first cap for Spain.
While injury has kept Fati out for Barcelona since November, he has undergone surgery on his knee twice. Now, he finally looks to be on the road to recovery and could be fit enough to return before the end of the campaign and the Euros this summer.
Pedri Gonzalez – Spain
Another Barcelona youngster making a claim for a spot in the Spanish team is Pedri Gonzalez. In what has been a brilliant season for the teenager, he has made 37 appearances in LaLiga this campaign, scoring thrice and grabbing three assists.
The playmaker’s rise at the Camp Nou has made it difficult for Luis Enrique to ignore him and eventually resulted in him making an international debut during March’s World Cup qualifiers.
Should he keep his fine performances up in the remaining few months, he can expect to be in the squad for the Euros.
Jude Bellingham – England
Another Englishman benefiting from more time is Dortmund’s Jude Bellingham. Before sealing his big-money move to the Bundesliga last summer, the 17-year-old rather bizarrely had his No 22 shirt retired by his former club Birmingham City after ‘inspiring others’ at the club.
Given how he is showing his huge potential on the European stage for Dortmund Birmingham would’ve felt somewhat vindicated.
In November last year, he was handed his full debut by Southgate. Bellingham looks poised to receive a call-up to the Three Lions squad for this summer’s Euros.
Jamal Musiala- Germany
Jamal Musiala has featured for England at Under 21 level, despite this, he was persuaded to represent Germany at senior level in February, leaving the Three Lions to miss out on one of football’s most promising talents.
After switching allegiances, Joachim Low handed the 18-year-old his debut at the end of March.
The Bundesliga champions put huge faith in the teenager, which showed in his 24 appearances. He has scored six times already for Bayern Munich.
Now he looks certain to make Low’s final squad for the tournament where he could make an even bigger name for himself – a chance he clearly wouldn’t have gotten this time last year.
Florian Wirtz – Germany
Along with our previous young German star, Florian Wirtz was called up to the Germany squad for March’s World Cup qualifiers. However, as Musiala was handed his debut, Wirtz ended up being an unused substitute for all three games. But the 17-year-old shouldn’t be discouraged by that fact.
Wirtz has an impressive 10 goal contributions to his name in 26 Bundesliga appearances for Bayer Leverkusen. Although his preferred role is as an attacking midfielder, he is versatile enough to play anywhere across the front line.
With Germany opting for the veteran stars and performing shambolically at the World Cup, it would come as no surprise if Wirtz made the final Germany squad for this summer’s tournament.
Illia Zabarnyi – Ukraine
A name you might not have heard too much but fits well on our list is Illia Zabarnyi. After making his Dynamo Kyiv debut last September, he has gone on to feature heavily at centre-back and played every single minute in the Champions League group stage campaign.
Having made his mark at senior level, he has already made six appearances for Ukraine after Andriy Shevchenko gave him his debut last October.
We might not have even heard of Zabarnyi last year but his solid start to life at the top level will certainly earn him a place in the Ukraine squad this summer.
Kalvin Phillips – England
A second-tier player representing the nation? That doesn’t happen often in England and you would not have been surprised to see Kalvin Phillips not called up for Euro 2020. However, the extra year in hand has seen Kalvin Phillips and Leeds United get promoted and Phillips bossing the midfield against superstars of the Premier League.
His impressive performances early in the season saw him get his England debut in September. Even though England are stacked in midfield including the first name on our list, it would be difficult to leave out Phillips in the Euro squad this year.