We are now exactly seven months and one day away from the official opening of the 2016 European Championship in France next summer and it looks to be one of the most exciting tournaments for some time.
It may struggle to live up top the endless entertainment and drama of the 2014 World Cup, but it’s the first Euro that will be contested by 24 teams, as oppose to the former format of 16, and resultantly includes a number of dark horses like Wales, Austria, Northern Ireland, Iceland and Albania.
International tournaments tend to have a huge impact on player’s price-tags, as a barometer of their ability to ply their trade at a higher level. Take El Hadji Diouf, for example, who Liverpool shelled out a whopping £10million for in summer 2002 following his World Cup heroics for Senegal.
So with that in mind, Football Fancast have been running the rule over eleven Premier League stars who could see their value soar with impressive performances at next summer’s tournament.
With the January transfer window just around the corner, potential suitors might be advised to swoop six months early – before their targets’ value moves out of their price range…
Things didn’t quite work out for Gylfi Sigurdsson at Tottenham Hotspur, but he’s often looked capable of impacting at that top-four contending level since switching to Swansea City in summer 2014, going on to record nine goals and eleven assists in 47 Premier League outings predominantly through lethal set-piece deliveries.
The 15th-placed Swans have struggled as a collective this season, including the attacking midfielder. But he’ll be at the forefront of Iceland’s Euro campaign as their highest-profile player and impressive performances will undoubtedly catch the attention of bigger clubs – especially considering Sigurdsson is verging upon his peak at 26 years of age.
Many tipped Marko Arnautovic to prove an almighty coup when Stoke City snapped him up for just £2million in summer 2013 and the versatile attacker is starting to deliver on the hype, with five goals and two assists in 13 Premier League starts this season – including a match-winning brace against Manchester City last weekend.
The 26-year-old will be a huge part of Austria’s efforts at the tournament in France, having already bagged ten goals and 48 caps for his country and started all ten of their qualifying fixtures, so if Marcel Koller’s side exceed expectations he’ll certainly be handed a fair share of the credit.
He’s seen as a player whose questionable attitude has prevented a move to a major club before – but impressive showings at Euro 2016 could convince Europe’s elite otherwise.
Cedric Soares is proving quite the find for Southampton since arriving from Benfica in the summer to fill Nathaniel Clyne’s almighty void, averaging 3.8 tackles, 2.6 interceptions , 2.8 clearances and 1.3 created chances per match from twelve Premier League outings.
Portugal have a number of options at right-back, not least including Wolfsburg’s attacking-orientated Vieirinha, but Soares is firmly in the mix, having picked up seven caps since his debut last October and five since the turn of 2015.
Aged 24, strong displays next summer could see a top club take a punt on Soares – especially considering the Saints snapped him up for just £4.7million.
Unquestionably one of the Premier League’s shining stars during the opening months of the season, summer signing Dimitri Payet bagged five goals and three assists in twelve outings for West Ham until picking up a knee injury that will see him out of action until February.
But the attacking midfielder has always been on the fringes of the France squad and with Mathieu Valbuena and Karim Benzema both potentially absent next summer, recapturing that level of form after the three-month lay-off could slingshot Payet into Didier Deschamps’ starting Xi.
The Hammers acquired him for around £12million but could end up cashing in for double if the 28-year-old provides heroics in his home country.
Sebastian Prodl has been a rock at the back for a Watford side currently boasting the sixth-best goals conceded record and the second-most clean sheets of any Premier League club.
The defender is well-known from his Werder Bremen days and if he can transition that steely influence to Austria’s Euro campaign, some of Europe’s bigger clubs might start wondering why they didn’t make a contract offer when the 28-year-old’s Weserstadion deal expired last summer.
That does suggest, however, Watford might be prepared to let him leave for a tidy profit.
Half of Europe are keeping one eye on Romelu Lukaku at the moment, in no small part due to him notching up a rather incredible 53 Premier League goals at just 22 years of age – including a return of eleven in 15 this season.
Aspects of the 6 foot 3 striker’s game are still lacking but boasting power, pace and leap in almost equal measure, he’s emerging as a very complete striker and a well-rounded goal threat.
PSG and Manchester United have both been linked since the summer, so if Lukaku’s goals help Belgium to the latter stages we could see a much-anticipated bid that could well near double the Toffees’ original £28m investment.
Another Everton star whose performances next summer could slingshot him into the European elite.
James McCarthy’s energy, tenacity and consistent all-round game have made him one of the leading midfielders outside of the Premier League’s top four and he’ll resultantly be expected to contribute heavily to Ireland’s efforts at Euro 2016.
If the 25-year-old proves his ability at that level, something he’s more than capable of, long-term admirers like Arsenal and Manchester United will undoubtedly come knocking.
Tottenham Hotspur snapped up Dele Alli for just £5million but the former MK Dons star is already looking worth quadruple that sum, having made himself a permanence in the Lilywhites’ starting Xi and an increasingly important fixture in Roy Hodgson’s plans.
There’s high competition for almost every position in the England squad but the 20-year-old is likely grab a place purely with future tournaments in mind.
That being said, Alli is the kind of goalscoring midfielder who can change a game in an instant. If one of his goals helps England progress to the latter stages, that will undoubtedly have an effect on his price-tag.
Xherdan Shaqiri has really come to life over the last few games following his summer move from Bayern Munich, claiming two assists against Manchester City and proving a relentless threat down the right-hand side.
Many were surprised when Stoke City managed to land the stocky Swiss international and if his performance levels at Euro 2016 match that of the 2014 World Cup, long-term admirers like Liverpool will undoubtedly find themselves attracted to the 24-year-old once again.
With a young, promising and tight-knit squad, Switzerland could cause a few upsets next summer – and Shaqiri is likely to be centre-stage.
His value is already through the roof, with some tabloids quoting figures as high as £45million.
But with Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United and even Barcelona all reportedly keeping one eye on John Stones, his value could further sky-rocket with a few impressive performances for England at Euro 2016.
The only doubt, however, is how much the 21-year-old will actually feature. His prodigious ability remains indisputable but having only picked up seven Three Lions caps thus far, Roy Hodgson may view it as a tournament too soon – turning to the more experienced likes of Phil Jagielka, Chris Smalling and Gary Cahil at the heart of defence instead.
If Jamie Vardy’s performances at Euro 2016 come anywhere close to matching his record-breaking Premier League form, England’s top clubs will undoubtedly come knocking for the Leicester City striker.
Indeed, the 28-year-old has bagged a whopping 14 goals in 15 appearances this season, including goals in eleven consecutive fixtures to set a new Premier League record, and the calls for him to start up front at next summer’s tournament, over the likes of Wayne Rooney and Harry Kane, are getting louder and louder.
Should Roy Hodgson oblige and Vardy excels in his starring role, the former non-league could leave the King Power Stadium for an incredible fee.