Euro 2012: 7 Eyecatching Players to Look out for in the Future
Every soccer fan will have their own ideas on which players are likely to emerge from Euro 2012 as future stars, but here are seven that have unquestionably impressed during the tournament.
Some, in fact most, can be categorized as "under the radar" but after their efforts in Poland and Ukraine, expect them to go on to bigger and better things domestically, be it with their existing clubs or new teams who will inevitably be monitoring their progress.
Claudio Marchisio, Midfield, Juventus & Italy
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Apart from a brief loan spell at Empoli, Marchisio has been with Juventus since 1993, when he joined the Turin club as a young boy before spending his formative years at the club, developing his skills through the youth ranks.
Now 26, he is fully established in midfield for both club and country and is producing a level of football that has won him rave reviews throughout last season and now Euro 2012.
He is a hard-tackling ball-winner with two good feet and a great shot, particularly from outside the box.
He has combined brilliantly in midfield with Andrea Pirlo in this tournament. His 19-year relationship with Juventus could be under threat.
Mario Balotelli, Striker, Manchester City & Italy
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Balotelli has proven beyond reasonable doubt in Euro 2012 that he has what it takes to become a world-class striker.
His two goals in the semifinal against Germany were clear evidence of what he can contribute to a game when fully focused and, provided he does not let his eccentricities govern his behaviour, he will become an all-time Italian great.
Domestically, it is difficult to see him leaving Manchester City after winning the Premier League, but Balotelli can very much become a key factor in City defending that title in 2012/2013 and them mounting a challenge in the Champions League.
Alan Dzagoev, Attacking Midfielder, CSKA Moscow & Russia
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Russia did not last long in Euro 2012, but the three group games they did play allowed fans to take a close look at this brilliant young Russian.
An attacking midfielder with a great eye for goal, the 22-year-old netted three times in the three games he played in Euro 2012, bringing his international tally to seven goals from 23 matches. He has caught the eye of Arsenal, according to Metro, and the media outlet speculates that Chelsea may also take a look.
While the Russian league is emerging and pay is high, it cannot be too long before Dzagoev is seen playing in either La Liga or the Premier League.
Joao Moutinho, Midfielder, Porto & Portugal
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Although a controversial character back in Portugal, there is no doubting Moutinho’s contribution to the Portuguese cause at Euro 2012, where he combined superbly with Cristiano Ronaldo in most games. Numerous Premier League teams covet him, according to The Daily Mail.
An all-around midfielder whose principle strengths are his passing, tenacity and work rate, he looks a natural for the Premier League.
Mario Mandzukic, Striker, Bayern Munich & Croatia
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This 26-year-old has scored goals for every club he has played for, which has earned him his biggest break to date with a transfer Bayern Munich.
The Croatian is widely seen as the best attacking header of a football in Europe and has been signed by Bayern Munich to potentially replace Mario Gomez.
He scored three times in three games for Croatia at Euro 2012, and playing in the Champions League from next season should see Mandzukic become a more familiar name.
Marco Reus, Striker, Dortmund & Germany
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This 23-year-old established himself in the Bundesliga last season by scoring 18 times in addition to his eight assists for Borussia Mönchengladbach.
Although not quite making the starting lineup in Germany’s Euro 2012 team, he was used regularly from the bench, where each time he made a telling contribution.
He has two good feet, can play on either flank and can score goals. He was on the scoresheet in Germany's quarterfinal win over Greece, and having just signed for Bundesliga Champions Borussia Dortmund for £15m, he will be another player to watch during the coming season’s Champions League.
Mats Hummels, Defender, Dortmund & Germany
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This 23-year-old is a stylish central defender who stands 6’3” tall and has earned high praise for his quality tackling, positioning and composure.
Although not making it at his original club, Bayern Munich, Hummels has become a hero at Borussia Dortmund along with central defensive partner, Neven Subotic.
The two are considered largely responsible for making Dortmund the best defensive team in Germany and Hummels is destined to be a regular for his country for many years to come.