Euro 2020: 5 surprise contenders for the Player of the Tournament award

England v Belgium - UEFA Nations League
England v Belgium - UEFA Nations League
Paul Merson

After a long delay due to the ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic, Euro 2020 is finally set to kick off later today. The 16th edition of the competition features some of the most exciting players in the world, with Portugal entering the tournament as defending champions after their heroics in 2016.

Tournament football is tough to predict and the nature of the competition favors impact players who can decide games with a moment of brilliance.

Who will win the Player of the Tournament award at Euro 2020? The likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Kevin De Bruyne and Kylian Mbappe are obvious names, so I’ve gone off-field a little bit with my picks. Almost anyone in Europe can pick the usual suspects to win the award at Euro 2020, but I want people to look at these picks and think to themselves, “where’s that come from"?

That said, here are five surprise picks for the Player of the Tournament award at Euro 2020.

#5 Pedri | Spain, Barcelona

FC Barcelona v Villarreal CF - La Liga Santander
FC Barcelona v Villarreal CF - La Liga Santander

Pedri is someone who has burst onto the scene recently and he’s a very, very good player. He’s played pretty much every game for Barcelona and also made his debut for Spain earlier in the 2020-21 season. He is really efficient with the ball at his feet and created more chances than Luka Modric last season, which is quite an achievement for a young player.

At this time of the year, the weather is going to be really hot. Spain will look to control the ball and wear teams down with their passing ability in midfield. If that’s the case, Pedri could be a vital cog in a side that is blessed with a handful of technically gifted midfielders. He’s really efficient on the ball and could emerge as one of the superstars of the tournament at Euro 2020.

Spain are amongst the biggest teams in the competition, but no one’s really talking about them. It’s not like the years that have gone by, but they aren’t here just to make up the numbers.

#4 Xherdan Shaqiri | Switzerland, Liverpool

Switzerland v Lithuania - FIFA World Cup 2022 Qatar Qualifier
Switzerland v Lithuania - FIFA World Cup 2022 Qatar Qualifier

I’m a massive fan of Xherdan Shaqiri. He barely played for Liverpool in what was a tough season for the Reds, so he’ll be fresh and raring to go for Switzerland at Euro 2020. Shaqiri will see a lot of the ball and is also a fantastic set-piece taker, so I expect him to play a pivotal role for his country.

Vladimir Petkovic’s side could be dark horses at the tournament and people will be shocked by how good they are. I remember watching a pulsating 3-3 draw between Germany and Switzerland in 2020 and the Germans were absolutely outplayed on the night.

I’d be really surprised if Shaqiri and Switzerland don’t have a decent tournament. They dispatched Lichtenstein 7-0 in their latest international friendly and will be quietly confident heading into Euro 2020.

Also Read: Jim Beglin's Strongest possible starting XI for England | UEFA Euro 2020

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Edited by Ashwin
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