With Euro 2016 starting on June 10th Keil thought it would be fun to take a look at 7 players he believe's could be the stars of the tournament.
It would be too easy for me to focus on the big names in European football such as Christiano Ronaldo or Robert Lewandowski but if you're a football fan you will already know all about them and the talent they have. Instead I'm going to point out some lesser known stars who are heading to France to help their teams quest for glory. When all is said and done and the tournament is over these players could very well be talked about as some of the best in Europe. Let's take a look...
After a stellar first season in the English Premier league Dele Alli was named the PFA's young player of the year. A box to box midfielder who is equally at home in central midfield or further forward behind the striker in the number 10 role, Alli has outstanding technical ability. His work rate is high leading him to contribute in both attack and defence, he plays with a calmness and maturity well beyond his years. Alli has tremendous vision with a keen eye for a pass and will also contribute goals from midfield after scoring 10 in his 33 league games this season. Don't be surprised to see Alli on the scoresheet in France this summer.
A speedy winger who can also operate in the number 10 role. Coming off his best season in Serie A where he scored 12 goals and provided 10 assists for his club Napoli. Insigne's lightning pace and outstanding technical ability make him a nightmare for opposing defenders. Look out for him playing a big role for the Azzuri in France.
With opposing defences focusing on his prolific strike partner Lewandowski, Milik could prosper for Poland this summer. Known for his strength and close control, Milik also knows how to find the back of the net after a season where he scored 24 goals for Ajax as well as 6 in the Euro qualifying campaign. A trademark of his is scoring goals from a distance so look out for Milik in the tournaments highlight reel.
With a €35 million summer transfer to Bayern Munich already sealed, Sanches will be keen to show why he was coveted by some of Europe's top clubs. Sanches can play as a holding or attacking midfielder, his technique, strength and agility allow him to contribute in both attack and defence. With 8 goals and 1 assist for Benfica this season he can definitely make an impact on games. For all the potential he has shown he does however lack discipline as the multiple red cards this season show, if the red mist descends he could very well find himself well known to the tournaments referees as well as the fans this summer.
With electric pace and a keen eye for goal, Griezmann could be the star of the show for Les Bleus on home soil. He can play anywhere across the front 3 but is most likely to be utilised wide left by coach Didier Deschamps. With 42 goals in 69 games for Atletico he certainly knows how to find the back of the net. France have an easy group so I expect big things from Griezmann early in the tournament. If you enjoy a bet he would be my tip for the tournaments top goalscorer.
At 28 years of age Rakitic is in his prime. He is a vital cog in Barcelona's team of superstars, doing the dirty work which allows the famous trio of Messi, Neymar and Suarez to prosper. A true all action midfielder who statistically covers more ground than any of his Barca teammates, he has great stamina and strength. Comfortable with the ball at either foot, Rakitic has outstanding vision and links up play from the defence to attack. He is a dangerous player who Croatia need to be at the top of his game if they are to have success this summer. Look out for Rakitic from deadball situations as he loves to take charge from free kicks, expect a goal or two if he gets within shooting distance.
Sane is one of the rising stars of German Football, it's easy to see why he is sought after by a host of Europe's top clubs. Predominantly a right winger who can also operate anywhere across the front 3. Sane is blessed with searing pace, his outstanding technical ability, balance and close control make him a terrifying proposition for opposing defenders in one on one situations. He shows a maturity beyond his years when making decisions in the game and works hard for the team when needed in defence. I expect Sane to be an impact sub for Germany this summer but with 9 goals for Schalke this season don't be surprised if that impact is a match winning one.
I'm expecting these players to light up this summer's European Championship, who do you think will be the stars in France? Comment below, I'd love to know what you think.