7 top players who will benefit from Euro 2020 postponement
- Here are the biggest beneficiaries of European championship's deferral
- These players can successfully recover from injury and come back stronger for next year's competition!
As you're already aware by now, the much-awaited Euro 2020 has been postponed to the summer of 2021 after the COVID-19 outbreak plunged the entire sporting calendar, alongside everything else, into chaos.
That means our wait for the enticing championship, which was only months away, is now prolonged by another 12 months.
But even as we rue this delay, the postponement comes as a blessing in disguise for a few players. That's because the participation of these players was in question due to injuries or perhaps even a poor run of form.
So pushing the championship back by a year has now opened a window of opportunity for them to regain full fitness and partake in the next year's tournament without question.
Let's look at seven such players, who're the biggest beneficiaries of Euro's deferral.
#7 Nicolo Zaniolo
AS Roma's talented young midfielder, Nicolo Zaniolo, was only making his bones with Italy's national set-up. He even scored twice and made an assist in his last appearance with the Azzurris in the memorable 9-1 shellacking of Armenia. He had even assumed greater responsibilities for the Giallorossis this season by consistently shining for the team, only for a horrific cruciate ligament rupture in January to curtail his time on the field.
Without him in the mix, Italy would've been much poorer. Roberto Mancini has undeniably assembled a highly talented squad, but few can claim to be as versatile in the midfield as him, or even possess a unique blend of creativity, technique and physicality as much as Zaniolo. When he eventually returns at the start of September, he can hope to have an injury-free season and subsequently play a starring role for the Blues.
#6 Memphis Depay
The Dutch striker, Memphis Depay, was on a scorching run before a serious knee injury ended his season prematurely. He is expected to make a return on 1 July 2020, by which time the Euros would've been well underway. Consequently, Depay would have had it really difficult to immediately assume striking duties for the Oranje given the inherent lack of game-time.
Having the tournament postponed by a year should then really be a boon for the Lyon hitman. He will now have a whole year to resurrect himself, get match ready and perhaps even enter the competition next year in peak form! The Netherlands are witnessing a renaissance after a calamitous last few years, and might as well set the Euros on fire with a blistering Depay spearheading the charge.
#5 Ousmane Dembele
Ousmane Dembele's case is a dicey one. The Frenchman has been blighted by numerous bouts of injuries in recent seasons, especially after joining Barcelona, and was also used sparingly at the 2018 World Cup by Didier Deschamps. His hamstring issue of this season though, which has seen him miss almost the entirety of the campaign, would've surely kept him out of France's squad if the Euros were to go ahead as scheduled this summer.
First week of August is the time circled on the calendar for his return, which means he will have 10 good months to try and maintain his fitness and even hit purple patch before the tournament rolls in. There have been reports of Barcelona considering to offload Dembele as the $120 million outlay hasn't paid dividends as expected, mostly owing to his recurring injury concerns, but the 22-year old should make most of the time to get himself back on track, whether it's with the Blaugrana or somewhere else.
Just like his teammate Pogba, Marcus Rashford too is crucial for his club and country. However, his injury lay-off in the last few weeks meant his participation at the Euro Cup wasn't set in stone either. Had he even made the cut in Gareth Southgate's 23-man squad, he might not have been at the top of the pecking order in the striking department.
The 22-year old has been out of action for almost 60 days since the start of last season due to various injury issues, missing 13 games in the process. His fitness has definitely come under question this season, but pushing back the Euros has certainly given him the elbow room to work on his fitness and enter the competition on the back of a successful club campaign.
#3 Harry Kane
The Tottenham Hotspur star, Harry Kane, has had several problems with fitness too like many others on this list, but more so. Way more. He missed almost the entirety of last season's home stretch with ligament issues, and sustained another agonising torn tendon in January this year that could've kept him out of the second-half of the season again.
Kane's impact for England also would've been decreased, even though he is to return in May. And that could've been disastrous for their title tilt. The Three Lions will now hope to have him fit and firing for next summer's tournament, provided he avoids another lengthy spell on the sidelines with injuries.
#2 Eden Hazard
The Belgian wizard, Eden Hazard, raised expectations upon joining Real Madrid as the club aimed to rebuild after a catastrophic season last year. And even though the Los Blancos have been able to produce a formidable challenge to Barcelona in the league, that's mostly without the services of the ex-Chelsea ace, who's spent a vast majority of the season on the sidelines struggling with fitness and weight issues.
Clearly, Hazard's dream move hasn't been all that dreamlike, and even though he was to recover before the start of the Euros, there would've been a huge question mark over his form. So these extra few months will be an opportunity to successfully overcome the ordeal, and find his best form which we're all eagerly waiting to see again.
#1 Paul Pogba
Paul Pogba's importance to France and Manchester United is huge, but only when he's in good condition. So his participation in the European Championship wasn't certain given he has only a handful of appearances under his belt this season. And even though he is expected to be fully fit by the start of April, a desperate dearth of playing time means he wasn't most likely going to be at his rip-roaring best, or have the kind of impact he did at the 2018 World Cup.
This timely postponement probably saved him from a bench role or perhaps a limited role in the competition. Another year's time means Pogba can not only work on his form and fitness, but also resolve his Manchester United future that's reported to be in a limbo.
Published 22 Mar 2020, 16:01 IST