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Which Euro 2020 Stars Could Flop This Season?
When Italy beat England on penalties last month to take the European Championship title, it rounded up what had been an excellent month of top class soccer. The delayed tournament exceeded expectations and became one of the best international competitions in recent history.
Most of the big European names were on show and many of them enjoyed impressive performances for their countries.
But the last few years have been very tough on the players and – after such a grueling campaign with little chance to rest – there is a question over how they will do in the upcoming campaign.
I’ve ranked five stars who all had a very good Euro 2020 but who now have the potential to struggle over the next few months for their club sides. Read on to see who I went for.
Andriy Yarmolenko, Ukraine and West Ham
Ukraine had never got past the group stage at a European Championship before but kicked off Euro 2020 showing that they meant business, frightening the Netherlands before losing narrowly.
Yarmolenko scored in that one and then followed up with another in the win against North Macedonia. He was also instrumental in the round of 16 victory over Sweden.
But the performance against England in the quarterfinal may be more if an indication of how the striker’s season may go.
Ukraine as a team looked surprisingly sluggish and tired and was eventually thrashed 4-0. It may be the furthest the country has ever got in the competition, but it was a dispiriting end to the side’s involvement.
Fenerbache has shown interest, but he will not go there as a star. Injuries have blighted his time with the Hammers and, although there were glimpses of his brilliance during Euro 2020, but it looks as though his career is now on a downward trajectory.
That tournament may well end up being more of a swansong than a steppingstone to further glory.
Patrik Schick, Czech Republic and Bayer Leverkusen
Schick’s audacious long-range effort against Scotland was deemed the goal of the tournament by UEFA and it was just one piece of brilliance from the Czech striker who looked very good throughout.
He is still only 25, but since leaving his homeland for Sampdoria five years ago, Schick has never really pushed on. A good season in Genoa earned a big money move to Roma, but he was played out of a position at the Stadio Olimpico and never really had the chance to impress.
A loan move to RB Leipzig was followed by a permanent deal with Bayer Leverkusen – but the goals have not been forthcoming.
Gone are the days when complete unknowns earned dream transfers from a few good performances at a major international tournament, but Schick seems to be on the radar of a few big clubs now.
Wherever he ends up this season he will need to be the focus of the team – and even if that happens, I’m not sure that he will replicate the wonder goals of Euro 2020.
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Denmark and Tottenham Hotspur
Denmark was one of the stories of Euro 2020. After the near tragedy involving Christian Eriksen in the opening game, the squad pulled together incredibly to reach the semifinal before losing to England at Wembley.
Although it was Denmark’s team spirit that shone through, Hojbjerg’s contribution was immense.
Hojbjerg has stepped up and added a creative attacking feature of his game that hasn’t always been utilized at his club. He has regularly provided more assists for Denmark than for Spurs, even though he enjoyed a very good season in north London last year.
But the Danish midfielder also played more minutes than any other player in the EPL last season and has now gone through a demanding European Championship where his side stayed in the competition longer than anyone outside the squad would have predicted.
Tottenham has a new head coach this season and there may be some teething problems as the campaign gets underway.
Harry Maguire, England and Manchester United
Harry Maguire has been defending himself from his critics ever since he made the record-breaking move to Manchester United from Leicester City two years ago.
His lack of movement has sometimes been regarded as a problem for both club and country, but the center back has just carried on playing the way he does and concentrating on his game.
One of three England players named in the UEFA team of the tournament, Mahuire was a major reason for his country’s clean sheet record up until the semifinal against Denmark. He even managed to get on the scoresheet during the rout of Ukraine at the quarterfinal stage.
His teammates should be able to help in the pursuit for Champions League soccer, but I am not as confident that Maguire will not be at fault at the back on occasion.
Calling him a ‘flop’ might be a little harsh, but he may not enjoy his best season in the red shirt of United.
Harry Kane, England and Tottenham Hotspur
The inclusion of the England captain in this list might be a little controversial, but I feel as though there is enough evidence to suggest that Kane could struggle this season and not enjoy the success he has experienced in the past. That could be regarded as a ‘flop’ when it comes to the very best.
Kane won the EPL Golden Boot for the third time last season, but his total was nowhere near the amount he scored in the league a few years ago.
His tally was helped with a successful season in Europe, on a personal note, but it was noted more than once that he didn’t really fit into the way Mourinho had his team playing.
At the time of writing this, Kane has refused to join up with Tottenham’s pre-season training as he attempts to force a move to Manchester City. That decision seems incredibly ill-advised, but also means that he is missing out on vital conditioning time.
Kane has been a notoriously slow starter when it comes to scoring goals in the EPL and could take a while to get going this season – wherever he ends up.
There has been more criticism in the media about Kane’s style of play and his tendency to ‘win’ free kicks recently.
I feel that the way he has handled a possible transfer to City this summer has been a bad move and his struggles could continue into the new EPL campaign.
Labeling any of these players as flops is a little harsh considering how well they have been playing for their clubs over the last few years – and in the summer’s Euro 2020 tournament as well.
However, I do think that there is a distinct possibility that the rigors of club and international soccer over the last few years may well catch up with them during the 2021/22 season.
Check out my companion piece below for a view on some players who I think will enjoy a good campaign this year.