8 stars of the future to look out for at the Olympics football tournament
While interest in the Olympics footy isn't so strong here with no Team GB this time around, there are still a whole swath of world stars bidding to bag themselves a shiny gold medal. And while the transfer window's open it could even earn one or two players a move.
Here's our list of the stars to keep an eye on, who could become household names following a good tournament, put together by our man on the ground in Rio watching the proceedings.
1. Gabriel Barbosa, Brazil
While Neymar carries the hopes of the host national and fellow Gabriel, Jesus, has grabbed recent headlines by completing a big-money move to Manchester City, it’s the other third of Brazil’s attacking trio who has got the fans most excited. Goals, assists, dribbling ability: Gabigol has the lot. And he doesn’t turn 20 until just after the Olympics. Arsenal have been linked and Barcelona are rumoured to be preparing a bid as we speak. Don’t be surprised to see the already-capped forward follow the man he’s been most likened to, Neymar, out of Santos before the year is out.
— Vince Van Genechten (@VVGenechten) July 30, 2016
2. Takuma Asano, Japan
A talented young striker and very much one for the future
“A talented young striker and very much one for the future.” said Arsene Wenger after Arsenal signed the 21-year-old last month. The diminutive Asano cried after playing his last game for Sanfrecce Hiroshima, where he was named the J-League’s rookie of the year in 2015 having helped the club win the league title. He’ll be weeping again if he joins countryman Ryo Miyaichi in failing to make an impact at the Emirates. The Olympics, where Japan finished fourth four years ago, is the perfect chance to prove he can perform in the spotlight.
3. Max Meyer, Germany
— Bundesliga English (@Bundesliga_EN) March 5, 2016
Germany’s men are appearing in their first Olympic Games football tournament for the first time since 1988 and they are in it to win it, fully aware how valuable age-group experience can be at senior level. The Bender brothers, Lars and Sven, and Euro 2016 regular Matthias Ginter are among those who have full caps, but none are as exciting as Meyer. Even by the standards of Schalke’s conveyor belt of talent, the 20-year-old is some prospect, but he will need to score more goals if he’s to live up to the Lionel Messi comparisons.