The European domestic season is now a thing of the past and the footballing world is quickly shifting its focus to the upcoming European Championship set to kick off in France later this week.
With this in mind, MenStuff has decided to picking out 6 of the lesser-known prospects that look set to make a big splash at this years continental show piece.
Kingsley Coman (France)
France have built a fantastic reputation of being a traditional breeding ground for European superstars and with Kingsley Coman, the nation looks set to continue the trend. Possibly one of the most decorated teenagers in history with winners medals in three different leagues, the youngster has already been traded between the top clubs in Europe. The Bayern man is expected to be the long-term replacement for Arjen Robben and shares a very similar playing style to the flying Dutchman. Coman has exceptional speed and acceleration that is complimented by strong dribbling ability and an eye for goal. Coman faces a lot of competition for a starting berth in the upcoming tournament, but should at least get at least a game or two to prove his worth.
Radja Nainggolan (Belgium)
At 28, Nainggolan is a late bloomer. The central midfielder has six seasons of Serie A football under his belt, but has only received recognition of his talents in recently following his move to the Italian capital to play for AS Roma. The man, nicknamed “Ninja” by his fans, only made his international debut at 26 and was narrowly overlooked two years ago for Brazil. Nevertheless, the product of a tough upbringing has continued to fight for his spot on the international stage, and this time around is in line for a starting position. Despite being only 5’9”, Nainggolan is a very physical midfielder known for his crunching tackles. He is a midfield engine that covers both ends of the pitch, but also possesses the strong passing game that he uses wisely to control match tempo. Chelsea are already said to be fishing for his signature.
Hakan Calhanoglu (Turkey)
Apart from it being a mouthful, Calhanoglu is a name that has only recently featured in the footballing mainstream following his goal scoring display in the warm up fixture against England. However, the German-born midfielder has been making waves in the Bundesliga over the last three seasons for his side Bayer Leverkusen and will surely ripple a few scouting notepads later this month in France. While primarily an attacking midfielder that plays through the middle at club level, Calhanoglu will most likely line up for his country on the left or right flank in the coming tournament. The former Hamburg man possesses fantastic tactical awareness and distributing abilities, while his crossing ability and pace is what has made him a convincing option out wide. However, the 22 year old will most likely be stealing headlines for another trait that has made him a household name in Germany – his jaw dropping free kick ability.
Lorenzo Insigne (Italy)
Tanned, tattooed and already hitched to one of the WAGs of the tournament, Insigne is a definitive Italian footballer. He has been a starter for Napoli since 2012 and just finished off an impressive season helping his side to a 2nd place finish in Serie A, scoring 12 goals and assisting a further 10. The Naples native has however faced a far slower ascent into the national side, merely warming the bench over a 4-year spell with only 9 caps to his name. Usually found on the left wing, Insigne is a gifted dribbler with the creativity to match. He is often found cutting in off the right, performing a mazy runs towards the penalty box before unleashing on goal with his stronger right foot. His assist tally this season also shows that the man has a keen eye for the defence splitting pass.
Arkadiusz Milik (Poland)
When one thinks of Polish strikers, the name that immediately pops up is Bayern Munich’s goal machine Robert Lewandowski. With this man leading the charge for Poland at Euro 2016, it is easy to overlook the other striking option in the Polish squad whose star has risen considerably over the last year.
While not yet properly tested in Europe biggest leagues, Arkadiusz Milik has all the right attributes needed to perform in front of grander audiences. Milik scored 21 goals this season as Ajax Amsterdam’s front man, and has reportedly caught the attention of Sevilla, Leicester and even Arsenal in the process. He is a taller and athletic striker much like his counterpart Lewandowski and is equally adept at scoring with both his head and left foot.
Granit Xhaka (Switzerland)
Granit Xhaka is a man that the Arsenal faithful will be paying special attention to at Euro 2016, as they try to sign up their new £35m prospect before the start of the new season. While still a relative youngster, this Swiss box-to-box midfielder has plenty of experience behind him having been a first team regular at club level since the age of 18. Dubbed as a “young Schweinsteiger” by his former national team coach Ottmar Hitzfeld, the 24-year-old has already raked up 40 caps for his national team. A natural leader on the pitch, Xhaka has a fantastic read of the game and is not afraid to get stuck it is called for – 3 red cards last season paints a picture quite similar to Arsenal legend Patrick Viera.