Euro 2016 in France is well underway now, and fans have already been treated to some great games and high-quality performances.
Most of the players on show will be familiar to viewers of the Europe’s high profile leagues in England, Spain, Germany, Italy and France.
However, some of the best players on show may still be unknown to those who don’t watch games from the Eastern European leagues.
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Here are four who have the ability to brighten up UEFA’s showpiece tournament.
Andriy Yarmolenko (Ukraine)
Easily the most known player on this list.
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Ukraine got off to a difficult start in the tournament, falling to a 2-0 defeat to an excellent Germany side. As a result of the dominant performance of the Germans, Andriy Yarmolenko didn’t get much chance to display his considerable talent.
Their next two games are against Northern Ireland and Poland though, and Yarmolenko will hope to get much more opportunity to show what he is capable of. The 26-year-old Dynamo Kiev star’s record falls just short of a goal every two games for both his club and country, which is a great return for a player who has a lot more to his game than just goals.
The creative winger has been linked with Everton, and it would be a surprise if he doesn’t have at least a few offers to move to Western Europe next season.
He didn’t have the greatest preparation for the tournament, after being involved in an on-pitch brawl with Ukrainian team-mate Taras Stepanenko. Nonetheless, he will see Euro 2016 as a real opportunity to put himself in the shop window.
Oleg Shatov (Russia)
The 25-year-old Russian has plenty of European experience, having made over 30 appearances in the Europa League and Champions League with Anzhi Makhachkala and Zenit St Petersburg.
So far, he has yet to play for a team outside of the Russian league, but if he continues to produce eye-catching performances, then he is sure to find himself with the option to move to the big Western European leagues.
The skilful midfielder comes into Euro 2016 in great form, having scored ten and assisted 14 goals in 38 games for Zenit this season.
In the opening game against England, he showed flashes of his ability but didn’t dominate the way that he can. If Russia are to get the points they need against Wales and Slovakia, then they will need Shatov to perform at his creative best.
Borek Dockal (Czech Republic)
The Czech Republic come into Euro 2016 with relatively low expectations. If they want to progress to the knockout stages, then they will need their best players to be on form. Borek Dockal certainly falls into that category.
The 27-year-old scored four goals in nine games for the Czechs during the qualifying campaign, and had a strong season with Sparta Prague, scoring 13 goals, and chipping in with the same number of assists in his 45 appearances this season.
He has played most of his career in his native country, although he has had a loan spell in Turkey with Konyaspor and a couple of seasons with Rosenborg in the Norwegian league.
The set piece expert has the talent to play at a higher level, and a good performance in France may well earn him the chance to prove that.
Nicolae Stanciu (Romania)
Nicolae Stanciu only broke into the Romanian team in 2016, but has made an explosive start to his senior international career, with four goals in his first six appearances. The 23-year-old is an exciting talent, who has so far spent his entire career in Romanian football, including the last few seasons with Steaua Bucharest.
The 23-year-old is an exciting talent, who has so far spent his entire career in Romanian football, including the last few seasons with Steaua Bucharest.
He comes into the Euros on the back of a season where he supported his team’s challenge for the Romanian title with 14 goals and 11 assists. It wasn’t enough to win the title for Steaua, but his performances are sure to have caught the eye of scouts around Europe’s top leagues.
Romania had a tough start against France, but showed enough to suggest that they can cause problems against some of the less formidable teams in the tournament. They will certainly fancy their chances of getting results against Albania and Switzerland, and a couple of good performances by Stanciu would go a long way to helping them achieve that.
Who are YOUR ones to watch this summer at Euro 2016? Let us know in the comment section below!
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