After what felt like one of the longest domestic campaigns in the history of football, Euro 2020 is finally here –albeit a year later than planned. Kicking off in Rome with Turkey vs. Italy on June 11, this year’s tournament will see 24 teams battle it out across Europe over the next month, in a bid to be crowned the continent’s best.
As is the case with every tournament — be it the Euros or the World Cup — a handful of players often emerge or take center stage, whether their country reigns victorious or not. Think back to Russia’s Alan Dzagoev in 2012 and Greece’s Angelos Charisteas in 2004, or Portugal’s Renato Sanches in 2016.
Now from previous winners and international veterans, to upcoming talents and hot prospects, HYPEBEAST takes a look at 10 players ready to take Euro 2020 by the scruff of the neck.
Phil Foden (England)
Following a breakout season with newly-crowned Premier League champions Manchester City that saw him win PFA Young Player of the Year, Phil Foden is now primed and ready to take it to the international stage. Dubbed the “Stockport Gazza” — initially because of his skill and speed on the ball, but now also his new bleach blonde hairstyle — Foden’s progression under Pep Guardiola has been astronomical, although it remains to be seen whether it can translate to an England side looking for their first ever win at the European Championships.
Kai Havertz (Germany)
After a fairly inconsistent start to life in the Premier League, Chelsea’s £72 million record signing Kai Havertz ended the season on a high. Following a string of improved performances towards the back end of the domestic campaign, the 21-year-old scored the winning goal in the Champions League final to instantly carve his name into Chelsea folklore. Now amidst a largely inexperienced Germany side, 6ft 2” Havertz will be hoping he can help Die Mannschaft secure its fourth European title, and its first since 1996.
Abdülkadir Ömür (Turkey)
Many won’t have heard of Trabzonspor’s Abdülkadir Ömür, but that’s certainly about to change. Dubbed “the Turkish Messi” the 21-year-old has had an injury plagued start to his career, but has blown the rest of the Turkish Super Lig away with his devastating pace and skill. Despite only boasting a total of 4 international caps so far, Ömür has been tipped to play a big part in Turkey’s Euro 2020 campaign, with the team even marked as potential underdogs. If they’re going to make a mark, Ömür’s form will be vital.
Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal)
Selecting a five-time Ballon d’Or winner as a “player to watch” may seem a little obvious, but at the age of 36 Cristiano Ronaldo is technically in the twilight of his career. While he may not have the speed and agility he had a decade ago, his skill and power is stronger than ever. On the back of a disappointing campaign with Juventus — albeit in which he scored 36 goals — Ronaldo will be keen to add to his 103 international goal tally and help Portugal clinch a second Euro title in a row, in what could be his final tournament.
Donyell Malen (Netherlands)
At just 22, Donyell Malen is one of the brightest talents in European football. The PSV Eindhoven winger — who had a brief stint at Arsenal’s academy a few years back — has become renowned for his pace and movement in recent seasons and is reportedly set to be on the move post-tournament — so will be looking to impress for Netherlands on one of the biggest stages.
Gerard Moreno (Spain)
Following a period of domination on the international scene, Spain have failed to live upto expectations at the last three major tournaments. While many have put this down to an ageing squad in need of transition, others have cited the lack of a natural goalscorer as the nation’s main problem, until now: enter Gerard Moreno. Better known simply as Gerard, the 29-year-old arrives off the back of his best goal scoring season yet with Villarreal with 30 goals in all competitions. Moreno also scored in last season’s UEFA Europa League final against Manchester United which helped the Spanish side lift their first ever trophy.
Karim Benzema (France)
Returning to the international scene after a five-year hiatus, Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema adds an abundance of quality to a French team already dubbed pre-tournament favourites. Despite a disappointing campaign on the whole for Real Madrid, on a personal level for Benzema it saw him bag 29 goals in 44 games. With the 33-year-old seemingly in the form of his life, he’ll certainly be keen to add to his 27 international goals and clinch his first international trophy.
Jude Bellingham (England)
When Jude Bellingham made the move from Birmingham City to Borussia Dortmund at just 17 years of age, eyebrows were certainly raised. But after featuring 46 times in his debut campaign, Bellingham helped guide Die Borussen to a third-place finish in the league, a DFB-Pokal win and a Champions League quarter-final, alongside winning Bundesliga’s Newcomer of the Season award. While he may not necessarily start for England in the early stages, as the tournament goes on he could prove vital to Gareth Southgate’s side’s success.
Dejan Kulusevski (Sweden)
With Zlatan Ibrahimovic sidelined, Sweden must look elsewhere if they’re going to make their mark on Euro 2020. While they may boast the likes of Real Sociedad’s Alexander Isak — a young prospect capable of making an impact — 21-year-old Juventus winger Dejan Kulusevski is a more complete and ready package. Despite a frustrating season for Juventus, Kulusevski was one of the few shining lights with his goal and assist to win the Coppa Italia final the highlight of the lot.
Sandro Tonali (Italy)
The man dubbed as the next Andrea Pirlo. Sando Tonali’s inclusion in a relatively inexperienced Italy squad is no surprise. After an impressive debut season with Brescia — the same place Pirlo started his career — Tonali switched to the lights of AC Milan where he’s become a firm fan-favourite. While Italy, on the whole, may not be as strong as they have been in recent years, the side’s plethora of young talent certainly shouldn’t count them out when it comes to reaching the latter stages of this tournament.