Ten Euro 2024 players whose Premier League spells no-one will remember, including £6.5m Newcastle signing

Matt Stead
Rasmus Kristensen and Jose Mourinho of Roma, Newcastle midfielder Mikel Merino and Paris Saint-Germain player Vitinha
Head this way for plenty of chat about Watford and the 2019/20 season

Euro 2024 will feature many former Premier League faces everyone would struggle to put a name to. When did Spain become a Newcastle 2017 tribute act?


10) Juraj Kucka
The seventh-oldest outfielder heading to Euro 2024, Kucka is competing at his fourth major international tournament, having been contracted to a different club each time.

The current Slovan Bratislava captain went to the 2010 World Cup as a Sparta Prague player, Euro 2016 as an AC Milan first-teamer and Euro 2020 on the books at Parma, joining Watford on loan and swapping Serie A for the Premier League shortly after Italy beat England in the final.

Under three different permanent managers and in a sub-standard squad, Kucka understandably struggled. His 27 appearances featured four wins and one goal. Oh, Everton.


9) Rasmus Kristensen
“I am totally convinced that he will continue to grow into a great Premier League full-back as well,” said Jesse Marsch after following the signing of Brenden Aaronson by chucking another £10m or so at former club Salzburg for another of their players.

Kristensen has not quite lived up to the hype of, in the words of former Leeds director of football Victor Orta, “one of the most influential right-backs in Europe”, and certainly not for the club which signed him.

What remains the Dane’s only Premier League season culminated in relegation under Sam Allardyce, the only viable response to which was to join Jose Mourinho’s Roma on loan for a bit in the forlorn hope Leeds might return to the top flight in the interim. What Kristensen’s plan failed to account for was Leeds being irreversibly Leeds.


8) Kamil Grosicki
One of three players who could make their 100th international appearance during Euro 2024, 93-cap Grosicki might be dreaming of Poland making it all the way to the final in between two slightly mixed Premier League spells.

The second saw him play more often for the U23s than West Brom’s seniors. Three games were all he managed for the Baggies in 2020/21, although he did cram in an assist for Matheus Pereira while playing alongside Conor Gallagher and under Allardyce in a defeat to West Ham, which is proper lockdown season heritage.

His first stay was a little more productive, joining Hull in January 2017 as part of one of the most ambitious transfer window recruitment drives in Premier League history to debut in a win against Liverpool, rack up five assists in 15 matches, be voted PFA Fans’ Premier League Player of the Month and still be relegated.


7) Jon Gorenc Stankovic
Almost definitely the recipient of some passive-aggressive on-pitch post-match shouty praise from Pep Guardiola after scoring for Huddersfield in a 6-1 defeat to the champions on his Premier League debut, Stankovic missed the best parts of the Huddersfield rollercoaster.

A serious knee injury suffered in March 2017 sidelined the midfielder for what remained of the Terriers’ unlikely promotion push, as well as the entire top-flight campaign which followed.

The Slovenian returned to take his place in a dreadfully poor side, playing 11 times as Huddersfield were consigned to one of the earliest relegations in Premier League history.


6) Vitinha
A member of the 2023/24 Champions League Team of the Season, and manager Luis Enrique’s personal player of the year “without any doubt” after an “exceptional” domestic Treble-winning campaign with Paris Saint-Germain, Vitinha is finally receiving his flowers, but they needed ample time to grow first.

His first steps at PSG were wrought with controversy after alleged disputes with Lionel Messi and Neymar, who considered him below the requisite quality. And a loan at Wolves came too early in his development to have the desired impact.

The Portuguese started five Premier League games and did not finish any in 2020/21, failing to convince Wolves that their right-to-buy option was worth exercising. The Molineux club did not return to the Jorge Mendes well too often after that mixed summer of recruitment, although the club-record capture of Fabio Silva perhaps has a little more to answer for there.


5) Mikel Merino
It is not that Merino was abject in the Premier League; far from it. But his fleeting and forgettable spell with Newcastle came at the start of what has developed into a quietly excellent career for the midfielder.

Rafael Benitez signed the Spaniard on loan in July 2017, complete with a buy obligation triggered by appearances. Merino quickly became so crucial to the cause that said clause was activated by October and marked with a five-year contract.

Yet Merino only served ten more months at St James’ Park. After playing 25 games for the Magpies, he left in the summer of 2018 for Real Sociedad and became a paragon of La Liga consistency, helping win the Copa del Rey and establishing himself in a Spain squad which, for Euro 2024, somehow also contains former Newcastle teammates Joselu and Ayoze Perez.


4) Okay Yokuslu
It was only by a matter of hours that Ainsley Maitland-Niles pipped Turkey midfielder Yokuslu to become what, for now and at least until another Premier League owner loses their entire mind, remains the last signing of the Great Allardyce Managerial Odyssey.

Yokuslu was by some margin the better loan addition in January 2021, although West Brom’s ultimate relegation means neither will be particularly keen to receive any credit.

Allardyce compared his new midfield lynchpin to Luka Milivojevic and Jan Kirchhoff, both of whom helped inspire successful survival bids after joining his firefighting causes in January windows. Yokuslu did not. But his 16 appearances did feature a 5-2 thrashing of Chelsea and enough goodwill to return permanently in summer 2022, with the Baggies still in the Championship.


3) Kevin Danso
“The biggest problem was not playing enough games as a centre-half because I wasn’t able to show what I could do,” Danso reflected on his ill-fated season on loan at Southampton in 2019/20. He played there twice, coming on at half-time of the 9-0 Leicester thrashing, and with a quarter of an hour remaining against Manchester City a week later. In those 60 minutes, Saints conceded five goals.

But as Danso says, the issue was a lack of rhythm. The Austria defender had no Ralph Hasenhuttl pre-season as a deadline day signing, played at left-back in his first two games – the second of which saw him sent off – then was chucked on at right-back in his next appearance against Bournemouth, being substituted at half-time.

The 25-year-old’s last Premier League appearance was on November 2 of that campaign, his career requiring a quiet rebuild at Lens to undo the damage.


2) Ondrej Duda
A Euro 2016 goalscorer against Wales who impressed at Euro 2020 in victory over Poland, Duda will make it a hat-trick of Championships this summer after a fine showing in qualifying.

The Slovakian could not inspire similar levels of performance from 2019/20 Norwich because that was not humanly possible. He started well enough, making his Premier League debut with a goal-bound shot blocked on the line by Steve Cook to earn a penalty which Teemu Pukki converted for a 1-0 win. But just one more victory followed for a player whose 10 appearances were lost to the lockdown void.


1) Dodi Lukebakio
Joined Watford on a four-and-a-half-year deal in January 2018 for £5m. Made his debut in a 15-minute substitute cameo defeat to West Ham. Never played for them again. Went on loan to Fortuna Dusseldorf. Moved to Hertha Berlin in August 2019 for a reported £20m.

That is very Watford and inexplicably quite Belgium somehow.

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