Part 2 of Tom Curren’s “Predicting the Breakout Stars of Euro 2016” series, and he highlights three more players to watch. If you’ve not read Part 1 then we recommend reading it.
Jonathan Tah (Germany)
Jonathan Tah has been labelled many things during his short career, but perhaps the most eccentric title he’s attracted is ‘the future of defending’.
Though lofty words to live up to and high praise indeed, they are accurately awarded; the Bayer Leverkusen and Germany centre-half is already one of the most assured, confident and powerful ball-playing defenders in European football. 2015/16 has been the season during which he’s risen to prominence at club level, and it’s very likely that he’ll be involved in France as a result.
Jogi Low will look to Tah’s performances against Barcelona in the Champions League as a clear indicator of the big man’s ability to shut down the very best in the world; a trait that may well come in handy if the favourites do go as deep into the tournament as most expect them to.
The loss of Per Mertesacker has left a gaping hole in Germany’s back line and, with the very real possibility of Low deploying a couple of his more experienced centre-halves as full-backs, it would not be at all surprising to see Tah slot into the World Champion’s first-team plans this summer.
Bartosz Kapustka (Poland)
Poland are going into this tournament with a confidence that has gone somewhat under the radar, and rightly so. Though most people talk copiously about the unearthed talents of nations like Croatia and Ukraine, Poland are hiding a number of really promising youngsters in their ranks too; primary amongst them being Bartosz Kaputska.
Kaputska is yet to really make a splash in Europe at club level. Though his side KS Cracovia are the oldest club in Poland they haven’t come close to matching the giddy heights of Legia Warsaw in recent years, meaning Kaputska is still a relative unknown outside of his country of birth.
That might be to his advantage. It’s looking increasingly likely that the skilful midfielder will be a part of Poland’s first-team plans in France, and a run of top-class performances from the teenager might see him rocket up Europe’s property ladder as the find of the tournament.
Next to Gregorz Krychowiak in the heart of Poland’s midfield, Kaputska will have the perfect platform to demonstrate his playmaking abilities. Though still just 19, the Pole’s ability to run a game is impressive; his final ball is excellent, as is his general passing range and appreciation of space. Though Poland don’t have the easiest group in the tournament, they’d be missing a trick if they didn’t take a risk and give this talented teenager a run in midfield.
Nico Elvedi (Switzerland)
Borussia Monchengladbach are well known in recent years for finding and nurturing young talents, and in their last couple of Bundesliga games a new name has bubbled to the surface; Nico Elvedi, a teenage centre-half from Switzerland.
Elvedi’s breakthrough into Monchengladbach’s first eleven has coincided with his first couple of call-ups to the Swiss national side, a clear indicator that the inexperienced youngster might be in Vladimir Petkovi‘s plans for the European Championships.
One thing is for certain; Petković needs to do something to alter his sides fortunes before they head to the tournament. Though Switzerland managed to qualify, they look like a team in really poor shape. Unless they very quickly find a way to improve on their two recent friendly defeats to Ireland and Bosnia & Herzegovina, they might find the tournament a very sorry affair indeed.
The answer, as is so often the case, might be to hand some of the younger players a chance. Switzerland have talent in droves; Breel Embolo and Shani Tarashaj are both comfortably good enough to start at the tournament, whilst Elvedi might now be another name for Petković to consider.
About the author – Tom Curren
Writer & freelancer. Author & editor of scoutedfootball.com, a website dedicated to comprehensively profiling those whom the mainstream football media might miss.