When Euro 2021 began, as with any tournament, many of us were watching and waiting for someone to impress us so we could speculate their next big move. We always talk about who will take the next step in their career, yet we sometimes forget that for someone to rise, others must fall. With every tournament, we have seen surprise players become the next big thing, but whose stock is falling? I have 5 players who for them, these Euros were a huge reality check.
Kylian Mbappe – France
The star man brining forth the wave of a new generation? The Ballon D’or elect ready to take over from the old guard? Or a pretender to the throne who went missing at the Euros? To be honest, he is likely all three, but as an honest and hardworking journalist, I have to sometimes zero in on the negatives. Following a very public bust up with teammate Olivier Giroud on the eve of Euro 2021, Mbappe had the spotlight on him, and in 4 games, three of which ended in draws, he missed one penalty. That was not any penalty, that miss meant their exit from the tournament at the hands of Switzerland. For a player so convincingly destined for greatness, he had a Euros to forget.
Matthijs De Ligt – Netherlands
Virgil Van Djik was injured in August and missed the entire 2020 Premier League season. Then training resumed for the Dutch stalwart and the world was interested again. Then came the somewhat surprising revelation that in Van Djik was preparing for his return to club football in August and would be skipping the Euros. Enter De Ligt, a man ready to take the next step and present himself as the latest defensive hero for the Netherlands. What started as an average tournament became his own personal nightmare when at 55 minutes of the Round of 16 knockout tie, Matthijs found himself falling over his own feet trying to defend his lines. It ended with a deliberate handball, a sending off and the ?Netherlands being dumped out of Euro 2021. Virgil, your job is safe.
Serge Gnabry – Germany
Following a great season for Bayern Munich, actually a good three seasons, Gnabry came to the tournament ready to take the reigns as the next great German player. His impact however, feels like he did not even play. Unable to help break down France, a passenger when routing Portugal and part of a difficult draw with Hungary, Gnabry didn’t live up to the billing. It would not matter though as he was primed to play against the old enemy at Wembley when they faced England in the Round of 16. Well, he would have been had he not spent all but 21 minutes of the match on the bench. He was brought on at 69 minutes, and watched on as England pressed on to a 2-0 win. His international stock is falling, without the stars around him in Munich.
Ruben Dias and Bruno Fernandes – Portugal
Nothing seemed to happen in the Premier League last year without Dias or Fernandes being involved. Both were extremely important in driving their respective sides to 1st and 2nd in the table, with the former being named player of the year. It was then extremely shocking to see neither were taken to the European Championships. Wait… you are telling me both went, however neither bothered to really show up, well okay then. Both Dias and Fernandes lost any form that made impossible to leave out last season and both looked they had forgotten how to play football. A reputation can be lost just as quickly as it is built, and both of these men have some rebuilding to do.
Burak Yilmaz – Turkey
Not list of disappointing players would be complete without Burak Yilmaz. The Turkish striker has seen his stock fall more than most of the other players in the tournament. This is due to a combination of hype and form displayed by the 35 year old this past season. He dragged Lille to the Ligue 1 title with 16 goals in 28 games and added 5 goals in 4 games for Turkey in 2021 before the tournament. In a rich vein of form everyone was picking Turkey as their underdog, however no one thought to tell Turkey to show up. The whole team were awful, however Yilmaz takes the cake. He managed to receive 1 more yellow card, than he had shots on target… he got 1 yellow card.
Edit: When I originally wrote this piece, I had included Harry Kane. This is because he had, until that point, be struggling with form and looked a shell of the man meant to send England to glory. Well he must have read my mind, because as soon as I am about to publish this, the man returned with a bang and his stock is on the rise!
These players have a chance to redeem themselves and for the most part their stock will rise again, but for this Euros, lets just forget about it…. okay?
For more of what you like, click here.