With two major international tournaments now over – Euro 2020 and the 2021 edition of the Copa America – players are returning to their domestic clubs, ahead of the 2021-22 season kicking off. The Premier League gets underway on Friday 13th August, and following their exploits for their country, the names on this list will be hoping their good form continues, as they look to cement a place in the English Premier League odds. Read on to see who’s made the grade.
Emiliano Martínez (Aston Villa)
Last season’s Supporters’ Player of the Season, Martínez was ever-present between the sticks, equalling Brad Friedel’s record of 15 clean sheets, the most in a season. The Argentine had a successful summer – he earned his first cap in the lead-up to the Copa America, which his nation went on to win, against bitter rivals Brazil, in Rio de Janeiro. Martínez became the first Argentine to win the Golden Glove, as well as earning a place in the Team of the Tournament. He’s come a long way from those multiple loan spells while on Arsenal’s books – but good things come to those who wait. He’ll be hoping to continue on from last season, for sure.
Jordan Pickford (Everton)
From one goalie to another now. You can’t deny Pickford’s heroics helped England to a first major final since 1966. While Everton recorded a top-10 finish last season, Pickford was under criticism and had gained a reputation for being on edge. It was this nervousness and almost impatience that had led to mistakes in the past. Playing for the Three Lions, while he was barely tested in the group stages, Pickford looked cool, calm and collected. After keeping five clean sheets, he eventually conceded in the semi-finals against Denmark. There were concerns he may be back to his old tricks, as his distribution was poor, but let’s not forget he saved two penalties in the final shootout against Italy. There’s no doubt this experience will serve him well going into the upcoming domestic campaign.
After an impressive campaign for both club and country – with Chelsea winning the Champions League final, and Italy being crowned European Champions – could Jorginho be in with a shout of landing the coveted Ballon d’Or? The midfielder may have missed his penalty in the final shootout against England, but he didn’t put a foot wrong in the tournament. And while it’s believed that Italian giants Juventus are after his signature – having been named in the Euro 2020 Team of the Tournament – it’s believed that Jorginho will remain at Stamford Bridge for the remainder of his contract, which ends in 2023. His agent Joao Santos said:
“He has a two-year contract, and it's all in the hands of the club. There is the World Club Championship, there is the European Super Cup.”
Raheem Sterling (Manchester City)
While all the hype was around Harry Kane, with the Tottenham Hotspur frontman one of the early favourites for the Euro 2020 Golden Boot, City’s winger Sterling had a stellar tournament. He notched goals in two of England’s group games – including crucial winners over Croatia and the Czech Republic – and caused his opponents problems in every match. In the semi-final win over Denmark in particular, he ran himself into the ground – and even deep into extra time, he kept on running, bamboozling their defence! By all accounts, he had a disappointing season at the Etihad last year, but boss Pep Guardiola can take a leaf out of Gareth Southgate’s book, and by utilising a different formation, will certainly get the best out of Sterling. They’ll be keen to defend their Premier League title, as well as challenge in the Champions League to land that elusive trophy.
Also making the Euro 2020 Team of the Tournament were:
Harry Maguire (Manchester United)
Kyle Walker (Manchester City)
Pierre-Emile Højbjerg (Tottenham Hotspur)