The decision to push Euro 2020 back a year as a result of the coronavirus outbreak has turned out to be a silver lining for some.
Before the global pandemic brought football to a grinding halt, national teams across Europe had their final squads for the tournament laid out with many facing the reality that they’d have to wait for their chance to appear at another European Championship.
However, those not fortunate enough to be considered last year have now been given a golden chance to stake their claim as to why they should be considered.
Now, with this summer’s showpiece just around the corner, there are a number of exciting talents that are in the fold to feature at the delayed Euro 2020 when a year ago it seemed to be a different story.
But which players have benefited from the Euros being pushed back until now? Here, Sportsmail looks at the most exciting players that are now ready to take centre stage across the continent.
Euro 2020 was pushed back a year as a result of the pandemic which has given a number of players the chance of featuring when they were out of the picture last year
Jack Grealish (England)
Before the coronavirus outbreak wreaked havoc in football, Aston Villa and Jack Grealish were facing a fight for Premier League survival, which they managed to achieve once sport was allowed to continue later on in the summer.
While Grealish was Villa’s standout performer, the decision to leave him at home for the Euros proved to be a sensible choice for Gareth Southgate, considering the wealth in talent England already have in that position.
However, with Villa safe and Premier League football secured for another season, Grealish was able to show just how crucial he could be to Southgate’s plans having spearheaded his boyhood club to what could be a top-half finish.
Jack Grealish has enjoyed a stellar campaign with Aston Villa before his injury earlier this year
His performances for Villa earned him his first ever call-up to the England squad in September
During Villa’s 2-1 defeat by Manchester City last week, Grealish was spotted in the stands at Villa Park having a chat with Southgate who was present to watch his English contingent duke it out.
Now with just a few months until the Euros, there will be a real outcry if Villa’s skipper doesn’t make the newly-extended 26-man squad.
Jamal Musiala (Germany)
Despite having featured for England at Under 21 level, Jamal Musiala was persuaded to represent Germany at senior level in February, leaving the Three Lions to miss out on one of football’s most promising talents.
Since switching allegiances, the 18-year-old has been called up to the senior side twice by Joachim Low after being handed his debut at the end of March.
The youngster has had a lot of faith placed on his shoulders already at Bayern Munich, where he has already made 24 appearances this season – scoring six times.
Now he looks certain to make Low’s final squad for the tournament where he could make an even bigger name for himself – a chance he wouldn’t have got this time last year.
England Under 21 international Jamal Musiala decided to represent Germany at senior level
Allan Saint-Maximin (France)
At the age of 24, Allan Saint-Maximin is yet to be called up to France’s national squad.
Considering the attacking wealth the French already boast, there didn’t seem like Saint-Maximin had a chance of breaking into the squad last year.
However, his impressive performances in the latter stages of this season are making people stand up and take notice, with the forward arguably single-handedly dragging Newcastle out of their relegation battle.
Unlike many of the other names on this list, there’s no guarantee that Saint-Maximin will get that call-up for this summer’s Euros. However, should he finally get the nod, this extra year will have been the platform he needed to succeed.
Newcastle’s Allan Saint-Maximin (right) could be called up to the France squad this summer
Ansu Fati (Spain)
With Lionel Messi entering the twilight years of his career, Barcelona are having to prepare for life without the Argentine.
The Catalan giants have always been able to rely on their famed academy in order to produce some of the game’s best talents.
Another one to emerge from La Masia in the past year is Ansu Fati. The 18-year-old Spanish winger broke records for Barcelona by becoming the youngest scorer last year before being quickly handed his first cap for Spain last September.
While Fati hasn’t featured for Barcelona since November after undergoing surgery on his knee twice, he finally looks to be on the road to recovery and could be fit enough to return before the end of the campaign and the Euros this summer.
Ansu Fati burst onto the scene last year and went on to make his Spain debut last September
Jude Bellingham (England)
Another Englishman that has benefited from more time is Jude Bellingham.
Before sealing his big-money move to Borussia Dortmund last summer, the 17-year-old rather bizarrely had his No 22 shirt retired by Birmingham City after ‘inspiring others’ at the club.
While the move raised plenty of eyebrows, Birmingham would’ve felt somewhat vindicated given how he is showing his huge potential on the European stage for Dortmund.
Jude Bellingham is another Englishman that has forced his way into Gareth Southgate’s plans
The teenager has become a starter with the Bundesliga side and nearly helped Dortmund overcome Man City in the Champions League quarter-finals, where he scored a superb goal.
After being handed his full debut by Southgate in November last year, Bellingham looks poised to receive a call-up to the Three Lions squad for this summer’s Euros – and it will be hard to argue against it given how mature he’s look on the ball this season.
Ryan Gravenberch (Holland)
One starlet very much on the radar of most European giant this summer is Ajax’s Ryan Gravenberch.
The 18-year-old is being hailed as the next big thing and is even being touted as ‘better than Paul Pogba’.
Liverpool, Manchester United and Barcelona among others are all in the hunt for his signature and they may be treated to see what he can do on one of European football’s biggest stages come June.
Ajax star Ryan Gravenberch (left) is wanted by Europe’s elite and will likely feature at the Euros
Gravenberch, who operates as a central midfielder, was handed his senior debut for Holland by Frank de Boer in March, where he featured in all three of their World Cup qualifier wins against Turkey, Latvia and Gibraltar.
It is likely Gravenberch will make the full Holland squad for the Euros given how he’s already created such a big name for himself.
Pedri Gonzalez (Spain)
Another Barcelona youngster making waves in Catalonia is Pedri Gonzalez.
The playmaker has made 32 appearances in LaLiga this campaign, scoring twice and grabbing three assists in what has been a brilliant season for the teenager.
His rise in the Barcelona first team has made it difficult for Luis Enrique to ignore him and eventually resulted in Pedri being handed his international debut during March’s World Cup qualifiers, where he featured in all three games.
Should he keep his fine performances up in the remaining few months, he can expect to be on the plane along with the rest of the Spain first team.
Pedri has had an impressive start to life at Barca, which saw him make his Spain debut in March
Florian Wirtz (Germany)
Along with Musiala, Florian Wirtz was called up to the Germany squad for March’s World Cup qualifiers.
While Musiala was handed his debut, Wirtz ended up being an unused substitute for all three games but the 17-year-old shouldn’t be discouraged by that fact.
In 26 Bundesliga appearances for Bayer Leverkusen, Wirtz has an impressive 10 goal contributions to his name and although his preferred role is as an attacking midfielder, he is versatile enough to play anywhere across the front line.
With the outgoing Low controversially opting to go for youth other experience in the past few years, it would come as no surprise if Wirtz made the final Germany squad for this summer’s tournament.
Florian Wirtz is another German youngster that could benefit from the Euros being delayed
The Leverkusen star (middle) was called up for March’s international break but did not feature
Illia Zabarnyi (Ukraine)
After making his Dynamo Kyiv debut last September, Illia Zabarnyi has gone on to feature heavily at centre back and played every single minute in the Champions League group stage campaign.
Having made his mark at senior level, Andriy Shevchenko gave him his Ukraine debut last October and has gone on to make six appearances for his country since.
Zabarnyi’s solid start to life at the top level will certainly earn him a place in the Ukraine squad this summer.
Illia Zabarnyi has gone on to feature heavily at centre back in his debut season for Dynamo Kyiv