Ramos, Neuer, Giroud & Modric…Stars who could miss out on Euros in 2021


The coronavirus pandemic has turned the football calendar upside down and for some big-name stars, it could, unfortunately, represent the beginning of the end of their glittering international careers.

UEFA was forced to make the tough decision of postponing the 2020 Euros by a year, with the flagship tournament now scheduled to take place between June 11 to July 11 in 2021 after the coronavirus outbreak threw a spanner in the works.

Not only will the postponement of the Euros have a knock-on effect for the countries competing, but for the players themselves it could throw up a harsh new reality.

Many players will have potentially been eyeing up this summer’s showpiece event as their swansong on the international stage but with an extra year of miles on the clock, some may now be denied that opportunity.

Here, Sportsmail takes a look at what players are in danger of missing out on next summer’s Euros and having their international careers ended abruptly…

When next summer’s Euros come around, Real Madrid and Spain captain Sergio Ramos will be the grand old age of 35. There is no doubt the veteran centre back will be sweating about his place under former Barcelona manager Luis Enrique.

Ramos sits pretty as Spain’s most-capped player ever featuring 170 times for his country but just how many more appearances will he make for the national team?

His future with Real Madrid is currently up in the air – there is no new contract on the table and his relationship with club president Florentino Perez has soured in recent times, meaning he could soon be on his way out of the Bernabeu.

Leaving Madrid could also spell the end of his international career, if he isn’t playing on the biggest stage in Spain at club level, Enrique could potentially overlook Ramos next summer.

Olivier Giroud appeared to be making his move at exactly the right time ahead of this summer. After months and months on the bench working as Tammy Abraham’s understudy at Chelsea, the Frenchman was looking for a move to try and force his way into France’s Euro squad.

But after an ankle injury to England international Abraham presented a rare chance to impress, Giroud stayed put. Frank Lampard called on the Frenchman to fill the void. He scored key goals against the likes of Tottenham and proved to be a good focal point in attack.

He proved he could still mix it at the top level and showed exactly why France have put so much faith in him over the years but the postponement of the Euros could be one step too far for Giroud, who will be 34 when the tournament eventually takes place.

There is plenty of competition for places up top for World Cup winners France, and with the likes of Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann and Ousmane Dembele (currently out injured), at the peak of their game, Giroud will have an extremely tough job on his hands to maintain his place in Didier Deschamps’ squad.

England manager Gareth Southgate is blessed with an array of talent at right back at the moment, with both Trent Alexander-Arnold and Aaron Wan-Bissaka widely regarded as the future for the Three Lions.

Their rapid rises are certainly set to spell an end to Kieran Trippier, who moved abroad last summer to join Atletico Madrid from Tottenham as he sought a fresh challenge.

Liverpool right back Alexander-Arnold, who has played an influential role for the Reds as they close in on their first-ever Premier League title, has started England’s last two games and looks set for a long and successful career with the Three Lions.

Meanwhile, Wan-Bissaka has proved a fantastic signing for Manchester United since his £50million move from Crystal Palace last summer and will look to battle it all the way with Alexander-Arnold for a starting spot.

It is last chance saloon for Trippier, who missed out on the UEFA Nations League Finals last June, to revive his international career and it certainly wouldn’t be a surprise if he wasn’t selected by Southgate for the Euros in 2021.

The FA announcing earlier this month that they will be investing Trippier over an alleged breach of betting regulations in regards to his transfer to Atletico will not have done him any favours either.

For so long now Manuel Neuer has ruled the roost in the goalkeeping department for both club and country. He has proved a formidable presence in between the posts, winning seven Bundesliga titles and one Champions League crown for Bayern Munich and the World Cup with Germany in 2014.

But his position as Germany No 1 is under serious threat from Marc-Andre ter Stegen, who has recently spoken out about his disappointment of not starting under Joachim Low in what is a new-look younger national team.

Germany skipper Neuer recently claimed Ter Stegen should stop complaining that he is not starting for Germany, but the Barcelona shot-stopper has since hit back – starting a war of words with his compatriot.

Ter Stegen is clearly determined to do all he can to usurp Neuer in the starting XI and his stock has continued to rise at Spanish giants Barcelona in recent times.

And it appears as if Low has taken note of Ter Stegen’s determination, playing the Barcelona goalkeeper in two of Germany’s last four matches. If Ter Stegen – recently linked with a move to Bayern Munich – continues to improve over the next year, then Neuer could be in for a disappointing summer next year.

As mentioned above, Low is bringing through a new-look Germany side with fresher and younger players, such as Serge Gnabry, Leon Goretzka and Joshua Kimmich leading the way.

Germany’s new philosophy, as they look to build their superior reputation again following their disastrous 2018 World Cup, could spell the end of the road for Real Madrid midfielder Toni Kroos.

The 30-year-old, who has featured 96 times for Die Mannschaft, hinted last year that Euro 2020 could represent the ideal time for him to step away from his national duties.

‘After the tournament, it’s a good time to think about it,’ Kroos told German publication Kicker in August last year.

So after the decision was made to push back the Euros by a year, maybe just maybe Kroos will make the tough call to hang up his international boots to allow the chance for Germany’s youngsters to shine on the biggest stage of all.

Rewind two years ago and Luka Modric had just scooped up the Ballon d’Or and The Best FIFA Men’s Player awards after a sensational year for both club and country, guiding Croatia to the final of the World Cup, where they lost to France.

But fast forward to the present day and Modric, now a veteran in the game at 34, does not appear to be the same player he was two years ago.

His position at Real Madrid under Zinedine Zidane is no longer certain, as the next generation of stars, including Fede Valverde, are coming through and forcing their way firmly into the starting XI plans.

Furthermore, Modric’s chances of game-time could be restricted even further if Madrid end up signing Paul Pogba, who could form a midfield triumvirate alongside Valverde and the ever-impressive Casemiro.

A summer move to the MLS has been touted but regular football in America’s top-flight may not be competitive enough to earn a place in Croatia’s squad.

It is fair to say it has been a rocky road for Tottenham’s experienced centre back Jan Vertonghen ever since Jose Mourinho replaced Mauricio Pochettino at the helm in November last year.

He has been in and out of the team this season, featuring 19 times in the Premier League, and his deal with the north London outfit expires at the end of the current campaign, which has led to plenty of uncertainty surrounding his future.

Vertonghen even recently admitted he is torn over whether to extend his eight-year stay at Tottenham: ‘I’m in a process right now that I have to grab a piece of paper and write down the pros and cons of the options I will have soon.’

However, as Vertonghen gets set to turn 33 on April 24, will any big clubs make their move for the Belgium centre-back if he does decide to seek pastures new? Or will a potential exit from Spurs signal the end for the defender on the biggest stage?

If it’s the latter, Belgium boss Roberto Martinez could be tempted to opt for a younger set of legs at the back when the Euros eventually take place.

It couldn’t happen, could it? Surely the great Cristiano Ronaldo wouldn’t miss the Euros?

He will be 36 by the time the Euros come about, which for many would represent the perfect time to retire from international football, but thanks to his extraordinary physical prowess and ability, he is still a shoo-in for Portugal.

Ronaldo has the biological age of someone still at the peak of their game and he is showing no signs whatsoever of slowing down. And he has recently claimed that he wants to carry on playing football into his 40s.

The Portuguese icon told Marca: ‘Much will depend on what I feel, on my motivation. Physically it will never be a problem. I am treating myself well and I think can play safely up to 40 years.’

No one is doubting Ronaldo and the man himself will be desperate to lead Portugal to back-to-back European Championship triumphs…

Vincent Paul

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