Ten best European players not at Euro 2016

Date published: Wednesday 1st June 2016 8:02

Virgil van Dijk

With Euro 2016 looming and the squads announced, there are a number of high-profile absentees from the competition this summer. With that in mind, WhoScored.com go through the list of their highest-rated European performers to miss out for their national team from Europe’s top five leagues. And there is no place for Marco Reus…

 

10) Lars Stindl – Germany (7.44)
Ilkay Gundogan’s knee injury opened the door for a number of players hoping to make the cut under Joachim Loew, though one who did not receive the call is versatile Gladbach star Lars Stindl. A WhoScored.com rating of 7.44 is second only to Raffael (7.64) of all Gladbach players this season, yet with no national caps to his name, it would have been a real curve ball for the summer signing to make Germany’s squad. Yet, in Gundogan’s absence, Loew could have maximised a player of Stindl’s quality, with the 27-year-old playing more accurate through balls (seven) than any other Bundesliga player this season, while seven goals and eight assists was a commendable return.

 

9) Christian Eriksen – Denmark (7.45)
Spurs’ season ended with a whimper rather than the bang as they were leapfrogged by fierce rivals Arsenal into second on the final day of the season. That, though, is not to say a number of individual performers failed to impress, with Christian Eriksen among one of the club’s best rated players with a WhoScored.com rating of 7.45. Only Mesut Ozil (146) and Dimitri Payet (119) played more key passes than Eriksen (115) in England’s top tier, while only Jamie Vardy (33) won possession in the attacking third more times than the great Dane (30), with Eriksen providing the creative thrust in the final third while adhering to the high-pressing demands of manager Mauricio Pochettino. Denmark’s failure to overcome Sweden in the play-offs, however, means Euro 2016 will be robbed of one of the Premier League’s most consistent creators.

 

8) Miralem Pjanic – Bosnia-Herzegovina (7.46)
Another of the more potent creative outlets to miss out on Euro 2016 as Miralem Pjanic is forced to watch the tournament rather than participate in France. Bosnia-Herzegovina’s defeat to Republic of Ireland in the play-offs means the watching world will miss Pjanic’s talents this summer. No player registered more assists in Serie A this season than the 26-year-old (12), who in turn created the third most clear-cut chances (14) in Italy’s top tier. Indeed, Pjanic is one that could have lit up France 2016, but unfortunately won’t have the chance.

 

7) Ricardo Pereira – Portugal (7.48)
As Nice secured a top-four finish in Ligue 1 this season, much of the focus was on Hatem Ben Arfa – more on him later – but the impact of full-back Ricardo Pereira can’t be overstated. The 22-year-old Portuguese defender provided an effective offensive threat from deep for a Nice side that netted the third most goals (58) in Ligue 1 this season, while his defensive qualities can’t be overlooked. His record of 3.9 tackles per game was the third best in France’s top tier this term, reinforcing his WhoScored.com strength of ‘tackling’. He did not make the Portugal squad, but you get the impression he’s certainly not far off a regular spot in defence for the national team.

 

6) Franco Vazquez – Italy (7.51)
The Argentina-born creator switched allegiance to Italy and, despite widespread criticism, made his debut for the national team in March last year. However, despite his good form for Palermo, Franco Vazquez won’t partake in Euro 2016. This comes despite the 27-year-old completing more dribbles (126) than any other player in Serie A this season. With Claudio Marchisio and Marco Verratti both ruled out of the competition, there was perhaps a chance of Vazquez making the squad, but Antonio Conte instead opted to overlook the highly rated Palermo midfielder.

 

5) Ousmane Dembele – France (7.55)
After a breakthrough season for Rennes, there was talk of Ousmane Dembele receiving a call-up for France this summer, though ultimately he missed out on a place in Didier Deschamps’ squad. That, though, is more down to his age rather than lack of ability. At 19, the sky is the limit for the talented teenage sensation, who breathtakingly broke onto the scene this term. Twelve goals and five assists saw a number of Europe’s top teams take notice, though Borussia Dortmund ultimately won the race to secure his services. An average of 4.1 successful dribbles per game was the fourth best in Europe’s top five leagues this season and you can be sure Dembele – provided he can continue his rapid development – will become a mainstay in the France squad for years to come.

 

4) Virgil van Dijk – Netherlands (7.56)
Had Netherlands progressed to Euro 2016, the chances are Virgil van Dijk would have been one of the first names on the team sheet. The Dutchman enjoyed a fantastic debut Premier League season following his summer switch from Celtic to Southampton, maximising both his hugely impressive reading of the game and athleticism to form a solid centre-back partnership with Saints skipper Jose Fonte. His 163 aerial duels won and seven WhoScored man of the match awards were both the third best in England’s top tier this season, though Saints will perhaps be counting their blessings as they look to retain the services of the gargantuan centre-back.

 

3) Hatem Ben Arfa – France (7.58)
The second of three Frenchman, Hatem Ben Arfa made France’s standby list this summer and can consider himself incredibly unlucky not to be included in Deschamps’ primary plans. It’s been a turbulent 18 months for Ben Arfa, who back in January 2015 was released by Newcastle. Yet, he’s now re-emerged as one of the most exciting talents on the continent, having averaged more successful dribbles per game (4.5) than any other player in Europe’s top five leagues this term.

 

2) Karim Benzema – France (7.65)
Due to off-field issues, Karim Benzema was axed from France’s national team ahead of Euro 2016, which, despite his questionable form for the national team, will weaken the hosts. The 28-year-old was previously the focal point in Les Bleus’ attack and his league form this season showed why. His 24 goals and a further seven assists in 27 La Liga outings was an impressive return for Benzema, who suffered a variety of niggling injuries over the course of the 2015/16 season. Of the 96 players to score 10 or more goals in Europe’s top five leagues this term, only three netted more frequently than Benzema (one goal every 83 minutes). Despite a underwhelming career for France, his absence this summer will hinder the hosts.

 

1) Henrikh Mkhitaryan – Armenia (7.90)
After a disappointing campaign in Jurgen Klopp’s final season as Borussia Dortmund boss, Henrikh Mkhitaryan returned to his best form under Thomas Tuchel, with his WhoScored.com rating (7.90) the best in the Bundesliga and eighth best in Europe’s top five leagues. The 27-year-old, who recently rejected a new contract with Dortmund, registered the most assists (15), created the most clear-cut goalscoring opportunities (27) and played the third-most key passes (83) in the Bundesliga in what was far and away the player’s best season in a Dortmund shirt. However, Armenia’s lacklustre showing in qualifying – they finished bottom of Group I with two points from eight games (a Harry Redknapp special) – means Mkhitaryan won’t be on hand to showcase his talents at Euro 2016.

 

Ben McAleer

 

All statistics courtesy of WhoScored.com, where you can find yet more stats, including live in-game data and unique player and team ratings. You can follow all the scores, statistics, live player and team ratings with the new free-to-download WhoScored iOS app.

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