After a dramatic 2018/19 season across Europe’s major football championships, especially in the Premier League and Champions League, the players have a well-earned break for the next few months before things kick off once more.
While some players enjoyed a stellar season this past campaign, names such as Virgil van Dijk, Raheem Sterling and Jadon Sancho spring to mind, others experienced rather mixed fortunes. We are especially interested in players widely considered top class yet who failed to show their potential in 2018/19. In a football world where two poor seasons in a row is enough to leave a player on the scrapheap, the next season is truly a make or break for a handful of gifted yet underperforming individuals.
Here is a list of players for whom the next season looks to be a make or break campaign –
Since a high-profile move to Manchester United a year and a half ago, the Chilean forward’s struggles are well-documented. A series of injuries and all-around horrendous form saw Sánchez register only two goals and 4 assists during the whole of last season. Add to this the fact that he is United’s best-paid player, earning over £350,000-per-week, and it’s easy to see why he has become a symbol for the club’s struggles over the last year or so. There are two possibilities for Sánchez to solve his problem: to stay at Old Trafford and fight to prove himself against all the odds or seek a move elsewhere and start afresh. For both the player and the club, it seems that all roads point toward the latter outcome.
After an incredible substitute display in the 2017/18 Champions League final, Bale was the one tipped for greatness this season when his former high-profile teammate left him standing solo in the Bernabeu limelight. A host of terribly missed chances and anonymous performances later, the talk is of Bale leaving Madrid, as a return to the Premier League beckons. If he does decide to stay, he will find his appearances limited, with the imminent arrival of Eden Hazard. Having won everything with Madrid, it could be time for Bale to seek a new challenge in Manchester, London or even Paris. Whatever he decides, the next season could be make or break for a player who could have hit greater heights yet who never seems able to get out of first gear at Madrid.
Once upon a time, he was the best player in England, an unstoppable force of trickery and audacity whose every shot seemed to fly into the top corner. Fast forward a couple of years and Coutinho is little more than a spare part at Barcelona, and a much-maligned one at that. Often the target for Barça fans’ anger this season, especially in their miserable European exit to Liverpool, the Brazilian faces a huge season next campaign to get his career back on track. As with the first two entries on our list, Coutinho could either stay at Barça and fight for his place or go away in search of a new challenge. The first option would likely include fighting for his place as the Catalan club will inevitably recruit this coming summer. With a return to the Premier League touted it could be curtains for Coutinho at Barcelona.
Undoubtedly a player with immense potential, Rashford’s career stuttered last season as United’s struggles contributed to poor individual form for the young striker. At only 21 years old, his case is by no means as urgent as the other players on this list. In fact, he enjoyed a great year with England after the team’s heroic effort at the 2018 World Cup. Rashford has played his way to being a key member of the national team, and many will expect him to help England end a lifetime of near misses for their fans at either the Euro 2020 or World Cup 2022.
Regarding his United situation, if Rashford has another underwhelming campaign next season, then it would be interesting to see the stance that both the fans and the club take about the future of their darling local striker. It would be especially true if United brings in a new forward and somehow manages to turn their fortunes around without the help of Rashford. If, however, he can contribute to a revival, they will laud Rashford as one of the league’s best strikers, which is what makes the next season truly a make or break for the Mancunian.
Feature Image via talkSPORT