The game changers and the match winners, we look at the players who absolutely need to grab the headlines. Why? We have split them into three categories:
- The shirt mongers; those who are fighting for a starting shirt
- The auditioners; the ones who need to secure transfers
- The legacy; those who need to reinvent their legacy
THE SHIRT MONGERS
16 EPL goals seem decent? Well, it does not match the ambition of a team gunning for the Premier League title. As much as he poses to welcome competition for his spot, he has not found worthy opponents in Walcott or Welbeck. With 24 goals Vardy in the works, Giroud has it all to play for.
On the international front, he has the expectations of the host nation on him as Benzema was left out. Built like Atlas, broad shoulders, strong legs and the height to match, Olivier Giroud has the capacity to bear the weight.
Tall, strong, aggressive; the makings of a typical Mourinho favourite. Complemented with slow decision makng, poor range of passing and absolutely no understanding of the modern game; not so much any coach’s dream. Recording just 23 starts for LvG who favoured him above a few others says a lot. With the potential signing of Kante or Pogba there seems to be no room for The Groot. Perhaps a remarkable performance (wonder what this looks like) will buy him some time.
Be careful what you wish for. With open arms, he welcomed the sacrifice of not playing competitive football for 6 months. El Dorado now seems like the black hole. Turan, Leonidis of Athletico has been reduced to star only in the credits section. Astonishingly he recorded just 816 La Liga minutes having a hand in just 5 goals. Munir El Haddadi had a better season rating (6.81) than Arda (6.63). He needs to rediscover the tenacity and confidence that struck fear in opposing hearts. Let Barcelona remember why they paid 34 million Euros. The stage is set for a rebirth. Afterall, THIS IS PARIS!
Eclipsing poster boy Pogba, Payet is leading the charge for the Euros trophy. Narrowly missing out on Euros 2012 after playing a better part of the qualifying matches, the stars are starting to align for Dmitri. Manoeuvring tight spaces, imperturbable temperament, and uncanny footwork; Dmitri Payet set the stage for a remarkable Euros championship. With the ability to decide the fate of a match with a single strike, Payet certainly won’t be Hammering come August. As much expansion is going on with West Ham, the London side still looks a stage too small for the French man. Zlatan doesn’t do auditions? Well, Payet will have the big clubs trying to woo him with that level of performance.
Rival fans tag him a poor man’s Mesut Ozil, others simply revel at his distribution skills. At just 22, already reminiscent of Juninho Permembucano, he has scored over 10 free kicks. On his training regime, Calhanoglu says “I really don’t know [how many he takes in practice], but it’s a lot. I’m always practicing to make sure I don’t lose my touch.” He recorded a remarkable 7.29 season rating on WhoScored.com. He has showed glimpses at the Bundesliga and Champions League level. Apparently, he needs to show his genius at the international stage to be taken seriously enough. The stage is yours Hakan!
Tipped as a natural replacement for Andres Iniesta, he is also reported to be scouted by Manchester United, Athletico Madrid and Inter. Blessed with wonderful technique, extraordinary football IQ and a selfless workrate, he was chief orchestrator behind Sporting’s 2015/2016 title challenge. Paris awaits the sensation of Joao Mario.
Once upon a time there was a young lad who grew through the ranks at the world’s largest football club. He was revered and adored from the Spanish capital to the rest of the world. Pity! His time at the capital came to an abrupt, unceremonial end. 2015/2016 was a shocking season and definitely one to forget. He made the most defensive error of any goalkeeper in the Champions League and recorded a save percentage of a measly 68.4%. This time, he fights to restore his honour. The new kid on the block De Gea has made massive strides in claiming the Spain no. 1 jersey.
Wayne Rooney! The Pride of England! The shepherd of the next generation! 2015/2016 was mediocre by his standards scoring 14 goals and 7 assists. Some quarters grumble over his guaranteed starting spot with the Three Lions. Jokes on them as he is still miles ahead of the rest of the squad. In order to be the man Jose Mourinho once stirred up water to catch, he certainly needs the big performances. Since settling into a more creative role, he shoulders even more responsibility. Tipping him to do a fine job behind Harry, Jamie or Daniel.
It is the end of an era. Tomasz Rosicky, the little Mozart. Promised a great career, injuries did wonderfully to blot out his genius. Twists, turns, flicks and the signature outside-boot passes that could lighten a depressed heart. It is his swansong. Perhaps, one last master stroke, Mozart?
Which Ronaldo? What’s he doing on this article? Cristiano …… Ronaldo. EUROS 2016 marks perhaps the last international performance for prime Ronaldo. 2015/2016 saw him bag 52 goals. Impressive, yes? Not so much considering it is Cristiano Ronaldo. With Uruguay bowing out so early in the Copa America (Suarez obviously distraught), his major competition for the Ballon d’Or has taken a shot to the back. Messi also seems to be back to vintage levels, scoring a 27-minute hat-trick as a substitute. Claiming to be the best player in the last 20 years, Ronaldo has to back such heavy claims with a sensational this tournament. Moreover, he was merely pedestrian at the 2014 World Cup.
Abd’kareem: “seize the day, trust as little as possible in tomorrow”
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