After a long wait, a pandemic-driven postponement, and three years since the last FIFA World Cup, the world’s best footballers from across the continent will finally take to the field for UEFA EURO 2020 – promising all the action, drama and emotion that only summer international football can deliver.
The England squad under Gareth Southgate – 18 of whom are covered by Miller for Players’ Own Benefit insurance – head into the tournament with renewed belief, an excess of young attacking talent and a self-confidence rarely seen by the Three Lions.
Old foes across the pond in Germany, Italy, and Spain – meanwhile – look as strong as ever, while World Champions France bring a startling array of elite ability with them, boasting a group of players left at home that could just as easily win it all.
The Netherlands arrives with a collection of young, untested, and fearless stars, while Belgium are hoping that their so-called Golden Generation delivers one final time.
Add to all of this the fact that the tournament will be played in 11 different cities across the continent; fans will be allowed back into stadia; and millions of followers are eager to celebrate after 18 months or more in lockdown, and this tournament is shaping up to be one for the history books.
Emerging TalentWhile international tournaments are known for the elite talent, exciting drama, and inevitability of England losing on penalties, it is often forgotten that they have become fervent shop windows – providing a platform for Europe’s lesser-known talent to showcase their abilities and seek out a lucrative transfer to one of the continent’s top club teams.
At EURO 2016 – the last edition – it was 18-year-old Portuguese sensation Renato Sanches who stole the show, earning himself a move from Benfica to Bayern Munich in a deal that totalled €80 million after add-ons.
Similarly, Switzerland’s Breel Embolo claimed headlines and was rewarded with a €20million plus move to Schalke from Swiss side Basel, immediately catapulting him from one of the continent’s minnows to an elite environment and Bundesliga football.
So, with this in mind, we take a look at some of the names that might emerge over the next month and land their own big money moves and what they need look out for if they do.
When North Macedonia take to the field, it’ll mark the fledgling nation’s first major international tournament in history. Leading them there has been all action midfielder Elif Elmas, a 21-year-old who has already been named Macedonian Footballer of the Year and amassed nearly 26 caps.
A technically gifted versatile midfielder who is capable of playing in multiple roles across the middle of the park, Elmas is well regarded across Europe and has already notched over 60 games for Italy’s SSC Napoli.
With Napoli looking towards a rebuild next year and North Macedonia on the hunt for upsets, a strong showing may well see him on the market for one of Europe’s elite.
With both Manchester United and Liverpool reportedly in keen contact, Ajax’s Ryan Gravenberch looks set to be the latest Dutch superstar to grace the Premier League.
Another domineering central midfielder, Gravenberch looks set to make a considerable mark on Holland’s EURO 2020 hopes, as the form of Donny van de Beek plummets and with coach Frank de Boer keen to favour youth. He’s already well regarded, but a huge money move looks likely on the horizon.
While midfielders provide the engine room, it’s strikers that steal headlines, and at UEFA EURO 2020 no forward is likely to have a bigger spotlight on him than Sweden and Real Sociedad’s Alexander Isak.
Already Barcelona, Real Madrid and PSG have contacted the Basque side about his availability, and throughout the summer he’ll be tasked with taking over from the irrepressible Zlatan Ibrahimovic as Sweden’s main goal threat – no small feat.
But Isak looks set to prosper. Across the 2020-21 season he netted 26 goals across all competitions and the powerful forward is aiming to set the world alight in this summer while still just 21 years of age.
Cause for CautionThe trio of young stars are undoubtedly the ‘ones to watch’, but there is plenty they themselves need to watch out for.
Good performances at an international tournament can bring a meteoric rise, and with it and rapid change in lifestyle. From plying their trade in a domestic league to being snapped up by a titanic club, life can change dramatically. It’s important, therefore, that they have the insurance cover in place to react. We see many players take out career ending insurance that covers them for a lump sum in the event their journey finishes prematurely, and as salaries escalate we’re here to make sure the players coverage reflects their worth.
Similarly, the idea of ‘home’ might change just as quickly as clubs from across the continent battle for signatures. In the space of just three years, for example, Elmas has gone from playing in Skopje, to Istanbul and on to Naples, with a fourth move likely soon.
While all contracts are regulated by FIFA, each country has its own idiosyncratic contract law and in the melee of transfer rumours and deals done, players can often forget to ensure they are protected against each one. We work tirelessly to ensure each player we represent has coverage to cover their local legislation – wherever it may be – and it’s important these players are aware of this as they move.
But while the future for these players remains uncertain, it’s an exciting and exhilarating journey that will undoubtedly reap them life changing rewards. Miller is there to support them on that journey, just as we are with so many of the England squad.