A new year gives players the chance to turn over a new leaf. The January transfer window is in full swing and players will come and go in a bid to give their career a much-needed kickstart or move to the big step. For others, the new year will prove to be a crucial time to find their best form and earn a place in their national squads with several international tournaments set to take place over the next 12 months. With so much at stake, who could be the players to watch out for in 2021?
Six players to watch in 2021
Jamal Musiala (Bayern Munich)
He might not be a familiar name to many but Jamal Musiala could be about to take the football world by storm. The Bayern Munich attacking midfielder is only 17 but is already scoring goals and making regular appearances for the best team in the Bundesliga and the current European champions.
He has scored 3 goals in 12 appearances for Bayern and has excellent ball skills and positional knowledge. His rich form has also created a battle between two international powerhouses for his loyalties, with both his native Germany and adopted home of England fighting to claim him as their own. Having made youth appearances for both sides, he could certainly be one of the players to watch out for in Euro 2021.
Darwin Nunez (Benfica)
Benfica invested in some big signings over the summer and one potentialy breakout star could be Uruguay’s Darwin Nunez. The pacey winger is starting to show his true potential, bamboozling defenders with tricks and the ability to cut in on either foot. He has starred in the Europa League for Benfica so far this season, scoring 5 goals in 5 matches and slicing open defences across Europe.
Having scored 16 goals for Almeria in the Spanish Segunda Liga last season, he has a burgeoning reputation as a lively goalscorer. He is already making an impact for Uruguay scoring 2 goals in just 4 international appearances making him a potential breakout star at the Copa America in Argentina this summer.
Boulaye Dia (Reims)
Boulaye Dia was a late arrival to football, only signing his first pro deal with Reims at the age of 22 in 2018 but he could be Africa’s next big talent. The Senegalese striker has scored 10 goals in 12 games in Ligue 1 this season showing a deadly finishing ability whenever he gets into the penalty area.
Having scored a third of the team’s total goal tally in the French top flight, Dia’s rich form has many of Europe’s big clubs watching the 24-year-old very closely and could be a big commodity in the transfer windows. He has already broken into the Senegal national side making three appearances in African qualifiers and playing alongside the likes of Sadio Mane in the attack. A real prospect to watch out for.
Kalvin Phillips (Leeds)
Leeds’ return to the Premier League has been one of the best feel-good stories of the past year and a lot of this has success has come down to the success of their captain, Kalvin Phillips, who is one of the players to watch in 2021. The defensive midfielder is a real anchor in the middle of the park and fights tenaciously for the team from kick-off to the final whistle. His defensive skills have helped Leeds fend off some of the biggest teams in England and his calm nature on the ball can help link defence to attack in mere seconds.
He has also rightly earned a regular spot in the England side and is a likely contender to be part of Gareth Southgate’s squad heading to the European Championships in the summer.
Tariq Lamptey (Brighton)
Brighton knows they have unearthed a gem in Tariq Lamptey and the right-back is making the most of every opportunity he gets. Having signed on a free from Chelsea, Lamptey’s pace and strength make him a handful anywhere along the touchline and giving Brighton a much-needed steel edge to their side.
He hasn’t been afraid to get on the scoresheet either having already scored for Brighton this season and not afraid to get more. His excellent form has earned rumours for an England call-up soon and could be yet another talented full-back to grace The Three Lions set-up.
Romelu Lukaku (Inter)
Romelu Lukaku might seem an odd choice for our list of players to watch in 2021, given that he is already a global star, but the Belgian is a player reborn since moving to Inter Milan and 2021 could be the year he finally delivers on all his promise. The Belgian striker has been in scary form scoring 15 goals in 17 games so far in all competitions for the 2020/21 season.
He has found his confidence again and still retains the strength and finishing ability that he has had throughout his entire career. Furthermore, Lukaku will be the main talisman in a Belgium side looking to still win a major trophy that has narrowly avoided them at their last few major tournaments. Belgium has topped the FIFA World Rankings for the last two years now and a red-hot Romelu Lukaku could be the decisive factor in helping The Red Devils be triumphant at the Euros this summer.