International football tournaments have been the launch-pad for many a world star. Well, saying that, they’ve also been the basis for some of the worst signings in recent memory.
It’s a tricky judgement job, but the showcase tournaments can be an opportunity for relatively unknown players to shoot to relevance. A chance for these players to earn money that may have only ever dreamed of and play in tournaments that they thought were only there for watching.
There is potential for fairy tale, although it is largely about pragmatism. Many players deserve this chance and the European Championship can just be a chance to prove it.
So, which three players have wrestled their way to transfer contention this summer?
Ashley Williams – Wales’ captain has been one of the icons of this tournament, without question. His braveheart-esque defensive displays have been lined with bold blocks, commanding leadership and crunching tackles that have made Williams a Welsh hero.
The Swansea man has previously been linked with moves to some of the Premier League’s wealthier clubs and his European Championship exploits could make those links a reality. At 31, Swansea are unlikely to receive the sort of fee that many would hope for, mind.
If Wales can do the unthinkable and win the whole thing, Williams will go down a Welsh legend and rightly so. Leadership qualities cannot be taught and Williams is lucky to be one of the best leaders at this tournament. A natural at controlling the defence and commanding his midfielders into position, Williams has been as integral to Wales’ success as anyone (even Gareth Bale).
Could a move be in the offing?
Arkadiusz Milik – There’s a fair chance Milik would’ve been on the move this summer regardless of his European Championships, if we’re honest. His stellar Eredivisie season was made all the impressive when you hear that he only turned 22 earlier this year.
Poland’s foray to the last eight of the Euros seemed to go under the radar somewhat. A team based on efficiency over flashy displays, Robert Lewandowski’s relatively disappointing tournament was compensate for by the highly promising Milik.
Milik is a rounded forward who has shown that he can work in a partnership or alone. Impressing in Eredivisie is not always a guarantee for success, however, and it might be a while before we see a big move materialise.
With so many clubs in desperate need of a forward, Milik’s impressive summer must stand him in good stead for a move.
Ragnar Sigurdsson – Sigurdsson was one of Iceland’s heroes on their route to the Euros quarter-final stage. The FC Krasnodar centre-half contributed to England’s heartbreak with a goal from a throw-in, before defending resolutely to block out any offensive advances.
Few players have provided as hardened defensive displays as Sigurdsson at this tournament and, despite being 30 years old, many clubs around Europe must be considering moves for Iceland’s stars.
His eight clearances per Euro 16 game saw him near the top of the charts, whilst his 2.4 interceptions per 90 reflect a player with exceptional reading of the game. His age might just be the one obstacle that prevents a move this summer, whilst the player must be hoping that this is an opportunity to play in one of the top European leagues and potentially receive a pay-off as he nears the twilight of his career.