Does football truly ever stop?
Many bemoan the summer and lack of playing action, but the Under-21 European Championships are set to kick off in two days. Germany, Italy, Spain, England and the Netherlands et al. are set to square off for the chance to prove they have the most promising group of young stars.
We've picked out five players to keep your eyes on, starting with Thiago Alcantara of Barcelona and Spain.
The scene is set for Thiago Alcantara to wow the crowd and heighten the fervor surrounding him.
The Barcelona academy product is the centre of a storm of transfer speculation, and Spanish daily Marca revealed an €18 million release clause in his contract last month.
He will form the heart of Spain's midfield in a tournament that they are expected to succeed in, banishing memories of a poor 2009 edition in which they crashed out in the group stage.
Sebastian Rode will be attracting a lot of attention from Bayern Munich fans after recently sealing a move to the Allianz Arena, suggest German daily Die Welt.
He's an exciting central midfielder who can play in a deep-lying role or shuttle forward into scoring positions—a real midfield engine that can be the driving force behind a side.
Bayern's overflow of central midfield talent makes his signing a questionable one, so he's going to have to pull out something special to convince floating voters of his worth.
Wilfried Zaha single-handedly carried Crystal Palace into the English Premier League after turning in some stunning playoff performances, and will now be expected to replicate that brilliance with England.
It's been a long time since the Three Lions carried a talismanic goal threat into the U21 Championships—Gabby Agbonlahor and Theo Walcott do not count—and there's reason for optimism with Zaha on the field.
He's still got some work to do to convince Manchester United fans ahead of the new season, and this represents the perfect stage.
Quelle surprise, another young talent who's firmly under the microscope this summer and being talked about in big-money terms.
Isco dropped a huge hint to the BBC that he'd like to follow his "footballing father" Manuel Pellegrini to Manchester City, and with the deal widely expected to be completed, City fans will be out in force to grab a look.
Spain's system should unlock the best in him.
The fact that Johnny Heitinga has 85 caps for the Netherlands just goes to show how poor their central defensive corps has been over the past decade.
Many have been on the lookout for the next great Dutch centre-back who can reform the national side's chances, and that man may have come in the form of Bruno Martins Indi.
Dutch football expert Michiel Jongsma describes the Feyenoord man as "strong, a good marker, left-footed, calm, and a good header of the ball." He can play at left-back or centre-back, but has played on the left all season for his club.