The Olympic games will soon be underway and football fans will get one more international tournament to spectate. Unlike Copa America and Euro though, this tournament will not feature many superstars. There is a constraint on the age limit and with the domestic leagues soon to be underway, the clubs might not be willing to risk their players. The Olympics may not feature many stars this time but we do not expect any lack of competition.
Although there might not be too many star names, we believe that this competition might just pave for new ones. There are plenty of young prospects competing, some of whom have already started making headlines. There are also many lesser-known rising stars and we at FootTheBall bring you 5 such names that we think will impact for their respective nations this Olympics.
1. DIEGO LAINEZ – MEXICO
Mexico features just two players that ply their trade outside the country’s domestic league. Hence, Diego Lainez must have a special aura that warrants notice. The Real Betis winger is just twenty-one years old but has already made a statement in the national team. Lainez has scored three goals in 14 appearances since becoming part of Mexico’s senior team and his performances were exceptional.
— Selección Nacional (@miseleccionmx) June 22, 2021
In his twenty appearances in La Liga, he was not able to secure a goal but did provide two assists in the campaign. Lainez speciality lies in his dribbling, able to zig-zag his way past opposition players on the flanks. He is an instrumental player in the team’s attacking progression and at least completes three dribbles per ninety. Lainez will need to play his best football if he hopes to help Mexico qualify to the knockouts this Olympics.
2. KIM MIN-JAE – SOUTH KOREA
If someone’s nickname is “Monster”, there has got to be something special about him. South Korea’s Kim Min-Jae has been the subject of attention for some time now. A player who has exceptional positioning ability, Kim Min-Jae is a lethal defensive centre-back. Strong, agile and pacey, he is capable of sparring with the fastest and trickiest of attackers.
Everybody, Kim Min-Jae in the house! pic.twitter.com/B9eWQzYV6W
— Beijing Guoan FC (@FCBeijingGuoan) January 29, 2019
Being good with his feet gives him an added advantage, playing long balls and initiating counter-attacks when the chance arrives. His positional sense enables him to stop opposing players from counter-attacking and also to overturn possession in crucial moments. He has already marked 32 appearances with the senior team and has been generating attention from Europe. This might just be the tournament where one of the bigger clubs in Europe finally makes an official offer for the centre-back.
3. LUTHER SINGH – SOUTH AFRICA
South Africa’s entire squad is comprised of domestic names almost anonymous to the rest of the world. But, like always, it features some names that ignite curiosity. Luther Singh is twenty years old and plays in Portugal’s Primeira Liga. In his handful of appearances for the national side, Singh has already bagged two goals.
✅ Dribbling and scoring.
— CAF (@CAF_Online) February 12, 2021
A forward capable of exploiting space with his space, Singh makes himself a nuisance in the attacking third. A good crosser of the ball, he is able to pick out teammates from either flank. When given space, Singh does not think twice to get his shot away. His long shots pack a punch and if goalward, is extremely hard to anticipate. South Africa find itself in a tough group but with some attacking flair, they have the capability to upset the big boys.
4. HARRY SOUTTAR – AUSTRALIA
Calling Harry Souttar big is probably an understatement, at 198cms, this tower of a man intimidates even the best forwards. Originally from Scotland, Souttar switched allegiance to Australia, his mother’s home nation. The big target has scored 6 goals in just five appearances for Australia from a defensive position.
It comes as no surprise that Souttar wins most of his aerial duels. The big centre-half is also good with the ball and likes to play long balls. He currently plays for Stoke City and has been a regular starter for the club. At just 22-years of age, Souttar will likely draw more attention in the near future if he is able to tweak his game for the better.
5. ROBERTO ALVARADO – MEXICO
Roberto Carlos Alvarado Hernández plays for Liga MX side Cruz Azul and made 36 appearances for his club. The 22-year-old scored four goals this campaign but shooting isn’t his best attribute. A gifted playmaker who possesses visionary passing ability, Alvarado is not one player you can afford to give space.
El ejemplo de Roberto Alvarado (@piojooficial13) es un caso de gran valor para la #LigaBBVAExpansiónMX; pasó varios años con los Toros y hoy brilla en la @LigaBBVAMX 🤩👏🏻👀#Nota ✍🏻📰: https://t.co/KF0s4mxIdI pic.twitter.com/0969NKTLw5
— Liga BBVA Expansión MX (@LigaMXExpansion) June 7, 2021
He is proficient with either foot and likes to cut in from wide areas often. Using his explosive space, Alvarado can often be seen beating opposition players with his skill. He has an array of tricks up his sleeve and his technique on the ball is commendable. His knack to pull away from defenders enables him to receive passes unmarked. Alvarado plays the sort of unselfish football that is decreasing in today’s game.