The Cream Of Euro 2012
With Spain securing their third consecutive international victory with a thumping of Italy on Sunday night, Euro 2012 came to a close. The past 3 weeks have brought a fantastic tournament and a plethora of world-class talent on show in Poland and the Ukraine.
Before I give you my top five of the tournament, let me just set the scene. The players I’ve selected are ones whose transfer to the Premier League is more likely than some – obviously I would love the entire Spanish midfield playing in England but that is highly unlikely. That being said here are my top 5 that I’d like to see plying their trade in the Premier League come August.
Jordi Alba - The left back won’t be in the Premier League any time soon, having joined Barcelona earlier this week before wrapping up the European Championship in Kiev. Nevertheless he is an exceptionally talented fullback both going forward and helping his team at the back. The 23-year-old grew into his role as the tournament progressed, culminating in his first international goal against the Italians.
Del Bosque has found himself a left back to complement the attacking force that is so potent through the Spanish midfield. If he were to move to England, I think Chelsea would be the perfect fit – in a couple of years when the fullback has come along even further, Roman Ambramovich may make a bid as he seeks to find Ashley Cole’s replacement.
Joao Moutinho - Those who had Portugal down as a one-man team for this tournament were proved wrong. True, Cristiano Ronaldo did inspire his side on multiple occasions to reach the semi finals, yet it was Moutinho who pulled the strings for the Portuguese.
The Porto midfielder was the commanding presence in the midfield, holding together its free flowing attacking talent. Against Spainhe was integral in preventing the Spanish midfield from really getting into gear. At 25 years old, the time is perfect for Moutinho to break out of Portugal and ply his trade amongst the major leagues of Europe.
For me, Liverpool would be a great fit for the midfielder. Since the loss of Mascherano and Xabi Alonso, Liverpool’s midfield has not been the same. Whilst finding a replacement for the Argentine in Lucas Leiva, Moutinho would flourish in the Alonso type role, dictating play from deep in the Liverpool midfield.
Mats Hummels - True the defender was poor in his inability to prevent Mario Balotelli’s first goal as Germany limped out of the competition. Yet apart from that performance, Hummels has been a stand out central defender for the Germans, an area of their squad that has looked shaky in the past. His Euro 2012 performance has seen a huge rise in the defenders value, demonstrated by the contract extension he has recently signed. Despite signing said extension, we can’t rule out the possibility of Hummels playing in the Premier League in the near future. Already having a rumoured interest in the player, Manchester United would be a great match as again they seek a long term replacement for Rio Ferdinand whose not getting any younger.
Bastian Schweinsteiger - Many would disagree that Schweinsteiger would move from his native Germany. Yet Schweinsteiger has said on multiple occasions that he would be interested in a move out of Germany and with international teammate and former club mate Lukas Podolski playing at the Emirates this season, the time could come quicker than we think.
Whilst the Germany midfield is packed with talent, Schweinsteiger is the main man pulling the strings for Muller, Ozil and co. His talents would see him fit into a number of teams, but I think Spurs would be a good place for the German, as they look for replacements for the likely departing Luka Modric and Rafael van der Vaart.
Andrea Pirlo - Many have it as a toss up between Pirlo and Iniesta for the player of the tournament. Yet Pirlo was the top player in my book – whilst Iniesta is a phenomenal talent, he also has Alonso, Xavi, David Silva and a multitude of others to rest upon.
Pirlo ran the Italian midfield this tournament – without him the Azzuri would have struggled to get out of the group. AC Milan thought the Italian was too old last season, yet Pirlo showed his prowess in helping Juventus to another Serie A title.
When his current deal expires, Pirlo will be 35 meaning for most he will be too old. Yet if one man is still in the Premier League, we could see a move for the aged Pirlo. Sam Allardyce has a talent for getting the best out of those at the end of their careers. If he is still with the Hammers, then Pirlo could grace the field at the Olympic stadium come 2014.