Euro 2021: Five youngsters that will give Southgate some good selection headache in the summer - Grealish, Foden, Rice, Mount and Saka
|Gareth Southgate celebrates after England went ahead against Croatia at the 2018 World Cup. (Photo credit: Getty Images)|
Squad depth is the dream of every manager and Gareth Southgate, the England manager would look at the pool he has at the moment and feel blessed, in fact, it would take a curse of epic effect to stop the 3Lions from going all the way at the coming Euro finals.
We look at five dynamic hybrid midfielders that can help Southgate to land England’s first senior trophy since 1966.
Aston Villa’s Super Jack has earned himself a spot in Gareth Southgate’s contingent to the Euros with how much he has shouldered the Villa Park outfit this season and in his absence against Leicester, they lacked the cutting edge.
Jack Grealish is the darling of more than 50% of FPL managers, and that counts for something, he’s on the radar of top clubs and the fact he signed a new deal last summer won’t deter money bags from prying him away from Dean Smith’s grasps.
His attributes speak for him, ball retention, precise and well weighted passes, the drive on the pitch as the captain and most importantly, numbers on goals and assists; Super Jack can play anywhere in the middle, on the right or on the left and in the hole… He has a very big chance of starting in any team.
When David Silva signed off at the end of last season after a glittering Manchester City career, all eyes were on this young man to see how well he can step into the big shoes of the pocket sized Spaniard and boy, hasn’t he?
Phil Foden, local lad with big dreams, big heart and cool head, patient enough to wait for his opportunity and smart enough to take them whenever they come, he hasn’t only torched the season for City, he has set the league on fire and would be pushing for a spot in Southgate’s team in the summer.
Foden had a blip with the scandalous episode with Manchester United’s Greenwood but that is well behind him now, in the absence of Kevin De Bruyne, the young lad took laws into his own hands and put the likes of Liverpool and Spurs to sword, many have waxed lyrical about the goal returns of Ilkay Gundogan but Foden more than deserves plaudits as well.
He can shoot, pass and locate every geographical location across the pitch, he can play in the hole, beside a CM as the pivot and as a LWF, Southgate is blessed.
A school of thought posited that the greedy quest for Declan Rice was the end of Frank Lampard at Chelsea, having requested for the former Chelsea youth player without success in the summer, it was believed that the board warned Lampard about his desire to pay heavily for a player they released for nothing long ago, he didn’t heed the warning and he was shown the exit door.
Declan Rice is an asset if you take a glance at the current premier league log and you find the Hammers in fifth, don’t be surprised, the rise of Rice is at work.
Fittingly, the young stand-in captain at West Ham can play as a DM, as a CM, and as a center back, while the 3Lions don’t have much problems at the rear, Rice can fill in at any point if he’s needed, making him an important player to consider.
West Ham have lots of players driving them but the young captain leads the line, as long as he’s still at the London Stadium, the armband is his permanently as soon as Mark Noble leaves.
Another player that has Frank Lampard written all over him but for the right reasons this time.
Mason Mount would push for a spot in Southgate’s team following another stellar season for Chelsea and despite losing his benefactor (Lampard) to the sack, he has proven important to Thomas Tuchel as well.
From set-pieces, Mason Mount is deadly, he converted from the spot for Chelsea to rescue a point after winning the penalty against Southampton and his numbers attest to his relevance to any conversation around selection for the national team.
Depending on the formation, Mount should command a starting berth in Southgate’s team, upfront as a right or left winger, in the hole as a number 10 or right beside a CM in midfield.
Mount’s name won’t be a wrong one to call, he is gritty, mentally sound, and always going forward.
There are lots of options really but the fact Mount plays for Chelsea counts for something for him, James Maddison, Harvey Barnes and Emile Smith Rowe are other names pushing but the Chelsea midfielder holds the advantage.
When a teenager begins to draw comparisons with legends, past and present, you begin to pay attention to such kid.
Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka has stepped into the very big number 7 footpath and he’s living up to every plaudit he’s getting.
England would feel lucky to have gained the services of Saka who could have played for Nigeria.
The kid has given Arsenal hope this season and was highly instrumental with two assists as Arsenal came from behind to dump Benfica out of the Europa League on Thursday night.
Gareth Southgate has deployed Saka at left-back, in the game against Benfica, Saka filled in at Right back.
He has played in the hole, off the striker, on the left-wing and now on the right wing for Arsenal and he has bossed every position he has been handed to play, isn’t that amazing?
Saka’s versatility has earned him a chance to feature at the Euros, he can fill in smartly in more than five roles.
And with the left-back situation uncertain at the moment, the sensational kid might just nail that for himself, although one would argue that his numbers upfront would be wasting away.