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Friday, April 12, 2024

Five top players who could feature at the 2024 Olympics

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The Summer Olympics return this summer with Paris the host city for the world’s biggest multi-sport event.

Olympic rules are that each of the competing squads must contain players aged 23 or under, though three overage players are permitted in each squad. France will be aiming for a second gold medal on home soil, having claimed top honours in 1984, with Thierry Henry set to coach the side.

Football at the Olympics this summer will be hosted from 24 July to 10 August, though the earlier European Championship and Copa America could impact squad selection.

Ahead of the 2024 Olympics, we’ve looked at five big names who could feature.

Five top players who could feature at the 2024 Olympics:

Kylian Mbappe (France)

France are hoping to include Kylian Mbappe as an overage option in their squad for the 2024 Olympics, with the 25-year-old having spoken of his desire to compete at the finals.

Arguably world football’s finest talent, Mbappe has scored a record-breaking 250 goals in all competitions for Paris Saint-Germain and 46 in 76 caps for the French national team. Named as captain of Les Bleus, his first focus will be on captaining France to success at Euro 2024, though he has not ruled out competing in both tournaments across the summer.

Kylian Mbappe has scored more goals from outside the box (5) than any other player in Europe’s top 5 leagues this season. 🚀 pic.twitter.com/GT9ycqHzpy

— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) March 24, 2024

“I’ve always had the ‘Olympic flame’,” he said. “Along with the FIFA World Cup, the Olympic Games are the biggest sports event in the world. The Games in Paris, 100 years after [the last time they were held in the city]… mean the world to me. The idea of competing at the Games with France would be an extraordinary opportunity. It’s actually more of a dream than an opportunity.”

Real Madrid, who are expected to sign Mbappe on a free transfer in the summer, are likely to be less enthusiastic about the striker’s commitment to two international tournaments after a gruelling club campaign.

For France, however, it would be a statement of intent in their bid to win gold.

Bryan Zaragoza (Spain)

Spain finished as runners-up at the 2020 Olympics and will be aiming to go one better this time around. La Rojita are set to have a depth of talent to call upon even with Spain’s participation at Euro 2024, with Bryan Zaragoza an option to feature.

The 22-year-old signed for Bayern Munich in the January transfer window after an electric emergence at Granada, where the winger scored six La Liga goals across the first six months of the campaign. Blessed with scintillating speed and a desire to take on defenders, he ranks sixth in La Liga for take-ons this season despite departing the division in the winter window.

Bryan Zaragoza.

A constant threat 🏍️@brryann11 | @GranadaCF_en pic.twitter.com/1OUNesqJqu

— LALIGA English (@LaLigaEN) January 10, 2024

Zaragoza made his senior debut for Spain in October 2023 but could drop into the u-23 selection for this summer’s tournaments, amid competition from Mikel Oyarzabal, Lamine Yamal, Dani Olmo and Nico Williams for a place in Luis Enrique’s Euro 2024 squad.

Brighton’s on-loan winger Ansu Fati and Villarreal youngster Yeremy Pino should also be in contention.

Alejandro Garnacho (Argentina)

Alejandro Garnacho has broken into the senior Argentina set-up in recent squads and has earned four caps for La Albiceleste since his debut last summer.

The 19-year-old has had an encouraging campaign for Manchester United, scoring seven times in all competitions, and impressing with his insatiable work rate.

The world champions will be bidding to defend their Copa America title in the summer and Garnacho is a chance to make Lionel Scaloni’s squad, even given the competition for places in a forward line deep in talent. However, a record-equalling third Olympic gold medal – after successes in 2004 and 2008 – will also be a goal for the South Americans.

🥶🇦🇷 pic.twitter.com/exEv21Z0Za

— Alejandro Garnacho Club (@agarnacho17) March 24, 2024

Mohamed Salah (Egypt)

Could Mohamed Salah end his wait for international success with Egypt at the Olympics?

Salah has endured heartache with The Pharaohs having lost the Africa Cup of Nations final in 2017 and 2021, while his latest attempt to win the trophy for Egypt ended prematurely with a hamstring injury earlier this year.

Salah will turn 32 in the summer and time is running out for Egyptian football’s finest footballer to succeed with the national team. The Olympics could offer an avenue after Egypt finished third at the U-23 Africa Cup of Nations to qualify.

Mohamed Salah has 34 G/A this season:

🏟️ 32 Games
⚽ 21 Goals
🅰️ 13 Assists

WHAT. A. PLAYER! 🤯 pic.twitter.com/EwOhs4uBXD

— Pubity Sport (@pubitysport) March 17, 2024

With Salah – who has scored 56 goals in 96 caps for England – in their ranks, Egypt’s hopes of becoming just the third African nation, after Nigeria (1996) and Cameroon (2000) to win Olympic gold would be hugely improved.

Mykhailo Mudryk (Ukraine)

Mykhailo Mudryk could compete for Ukraine, having featured as part of the team that qualified for the Olympics after it reached the semi-finals of the 2023 UEFA European Under-21 Championship.

Mudryk has had a challenging time since signing for Chelsea in a deal worth up to £88.5m but would arrive at the Olympics as one of the most high-profile u-23 players in the tournament.

His participation could hinge on whether Ukraine reach Euro 2024, ahead of their play-off against Iceland on Tuesday.

Read – Ranking the five best centre-backs in the world right now

See more – The youngest England debutants this century

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