France hosts a major international football tournament on its soil for the first time since 1998, when they won the World Cup. Hosting once again, if they wish to repeat history and win the European Championship, it will rest of the boots of three players who have had incredible seasons; Dimi Payet, N’Golo Kante and Antione Griezman to repeat their club form.
The trio of Payet, Kante and Griezman have come off remarkable seasons with their respective clubs, they hold balance of power in France competing to win the competition, and failing in front of their home fans.
Dimi Payet has been a revelation at West Ham this season. A frightening combination of skills, pace and touch, Payet played a huge role in West Ham’s 7th place finish this season. Scoring 9 goals, including a peach of a free-kick at Old Trafford, Payet has popped up when West Ham needed it most. Not just able to finish the opportunities, he also joint 3rd in the competition for assists, with 12. With a staggering 21 score involvements from 30 league games, Payet was a key link between the midfield and the attack, performing his role in an eerily similar fashion to David Silva when Manchester City won their title.
A fresh-face in the French national squad, Payet must continue his rich vein of form if France are any hope of living up to expectation. As will N’Golo Kante, a revelation in the record breaking and still staggering Premier League win of Leicester City, Kante, who last season was playing in the 8th division of France, will now be a key member of the national team which will have aspirations to win.
A holding midfielder in the ilk of French great Claude Makelele, Kante provided a screen to the back four of Leicester with such maturity that it would have surely stunned him how well he fit into the toughest league in the world. Appearing 37 times in the league, Kante also showed that he could move forward, providing four assists and scoring one goal throughout the season. With a clear acumen and skill for the defensive side of the game, he will need to bring every bit of talent he has to the tournament, with the likes of Spain, Portugal, Holland and Belgium all out to redeem themselves after failings in the previous national competition.
Alongside the flair of Paul Pogba, the dare of Dimi Payet and the composure of Lassana Diarra and Yohan Cabaye, Kante should have no issue repeating the dose if called upon.
The final player of the key trio, Antione Greizman is coming of season after season of remarkable form with Atletico Madrid. Having gone from their primary winger, to know their leading scorer, Greizman, much like Payet has an incredible blend of pace, touch and poise which only a lucky few are blessed with. The 25 year old has 32 goals for Atletico across all competitions this season, and a total of 44 across his 75 games for the club. In his 26 appearance for France, he has scored 7 goals, continuing his rich form from Atletico. His form has him now regularly and rightfully in the conversation for being the best player in the world, alongside the likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
All three players have come off incredible stretches of form for their respective clubs, and have all shown that they can play on the international level. Whilst of course the question remains over final selection and fitness for the competition, should these three be selected, it stands to reason that the competition could very well be won or lost off their boots.