With the Summer Games kicking off today, the attention is set to focus back to competitive football again. And the 16 nations that have qualified having already selected their squads for the Games, let’s take a look at the five players to watch out for:-
5) Hirving Lozano
21-year-old Lozano, who plays for Pachuca in Mexico has already carved out a name for himself. Playing on the left hand side as an inverted winger, the Mexico international, reportedly caught the eye of new Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho while playing for his club side. Having already won the Liga MX:- Clausara with Pachuca this year, he is in amazing form and should most likely be the go-to man for the defending gold medalists.
Having shot to fame recently by moving from Sanfreece Hiroshima to Arsenal, Asano is another young live wire that should impress this summer. Whether it is playing as a centre forward or just in behind the striker, the 21-year-old is one of the more creative players on the Japanese squad. For much of his Hiroshima career he has operated in a deeper or wider role in the club’s 3-4-2-1, and although his goal return has been modest, he is set up plenty for the other forwards at the club. Asano is therefore, likely to be Japan’s biggest trump card in the Olympics.
The top scorer at this season’s Copa Libertadores, the 22-year-old is already a known quantity to football fans in South America. And while his 9 goals in the continental tournament helped Sao Paulo reach the semifinals, he is rather known for showing maturity beyond his years. A clinical finisher with powerful shot, Calleri has all but sealed a move to English side West Ham United ahead of the Olympics. With the Albiceleste in trouble both on and of the pitch, he looks like the man to help Argentina salvage some pride.
Likened to Neymar in his native Brazil, Palmeiras winger Gabriel Jesus is one of the best talents of his generation. The 19-year-old has an explosive turn of pace to match with the guile and agility of the Barcelona star. Still only 19, his ten goals in 16 games for his club made him the top scorer in the Brazilian league. Already closing in on a move to Manchester City, Jesus has a bright future ahead of him if he lives to the hype of emulating Brazil’s latest number 10.
Already a superstar on YouTube and gaming sites, 19-year-old Gabriel Barbosa or ‘Gabigol’ is another player that has been tipped to emulate Neymar Jr. Technically brilliant, he is a pretty good dribbler with good vision, meaning he is able to play out wide or just off a front line. A ferocious left foot along with a cool head is what makes the 19-year-old another one of the once-in-a-generation talents. Having long been tipped to be the next big thing in Brazil for quite some time, Gabigol is likely to be on the move this summer with almost all of the big clubs in Europe interested. Such is the pressure on him that he is expected to grow in the shadow of Neymar and help is country win the coveted gold medal, this time around.
So as Brazil aim to banish the demons from the 2014 World Cup, these are the five players that you should really keep an eye on!