National heroes but club flops: Andriy Yarmolenko, Paul Pogba, Granit Xhaka and more

With Euro 2020 moving into the business end, Planet Sport takes a look at stars who save their finest performances for the international stage, leaving fans of their club somewhat baffled.

Those who are old enough to remember Toto Schillaci, Georgios Samaras and Karel Poborsky will be familiar with the phenomenon: the player whose flame flickers for one brief summer, then fades for the rest of their underwhelming club career.

Planet Sport looks at those stars who seem to save their finest performances for the international stage, leaving fans of their club wondering why they fail to reach such heights for them.

Paul Pogba

From his first major tournament - the 2014 World Cup in which he was named Best Young Player and scored against Nigeria in the last 16 - Pogba has dazzled in a French shirt.

Few will forget his rocket shot in the 2018 World Cup final against Croatia as France clinched the trophy with a 4-2 victory.

In Euro 2020, although Les Bleus made a shock exit against Switzerland, Pogba's stunning curling shot into the top corner is one of the goals of the tournament so far. The less said about the five different goal celebrations the better.

Paul Pogba

All this must be mightily frustrating for Manchester United fans.

Pogba's confident swagger and peacock posturing on social media is not always matched by his output on the field of play.

He simply doesn't reach high levels consistently enough, resorting to over-ambitious passes, getting caught in possession and failing to track his man too often for someone of his reputation and price tag.

Andriy Yarmolenko

Andriy Yarmolenko caught the eye of many observers during the group stage of Euro 2020, scoring against the Netherlands and North Macedonia (a game in which he was named Man of the Match), as well as providing two assists.

There was little hint of these superb highlights last season at the London Stadium, where the injury-hit winger played just 362 minutes in the Premier League, without scoring a goal.

His only real contributions came in the cups, with a goal against Doncaster and two against Hull City in what were rare full 90-minute appearances. Torn knee ligaments and contracting COVID-19 probably did not help.

Andriy Yarmolenko against Northern Macedonia
Andriy Yarmolenko against Northern Macedonia

The 31-year-old is entering the last year of his contract with the Hammers and although he has yet to dazzle fans in claret and blue, his performances at the Euros may just earn him one more big move towards the end of his club career.

Incidentally, Chelsea fans may remember Yarmolenko's current international manager Andriy Shevchenko as another Ukrainian who didn't live up to his billing when arriving on these shores.

Shevchenko was a superstar when he arrived in west London following seven glittering years at AC Milan. He was a national hero back home, ending his career with 48 international goals.

Despite his £30.8million price tag, he looked heavy-legged and a shadow of his former glorious self in the Premier League.

Andriy Yarmolenko is 12/1 with Planet Sport Bet to score outside the area against England

Granit Xhaka

It has at times been difficult for Swiss supporters to take Granit Xhaka to their hearts due to his strong affiliations with his birth country Albania (you may remember the fuss caused by his 'eagle' gesture after scoring at the 2018 World Cup in Russia).

However, in a purely footballing sense, Xhaka has been a mainstay for the Swiss national side for the last decade.

He played in every game of their 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign and the finals, every game at Russia 2018, played every minute of Euro 2016 and has been ever-present so far at Euro 2020, including an immense display in the stunning victory over reigning champions France.

However, a mention of Granit Xhaka's name is often accompanied by howls of derision from Arsenal fans.

Their antipathy infamously came to the boil when he was booed off by his own supporters as he was substituted against Crystal Palace in October 2019. His angry and sarcastic gestures on walking off only soured the relationship even further.

Although he has won two FA Cups with Arsenal, it has not been a harmonious time during a period of transition for the Gunners, and he is now seemingly set to be shipped off to Roma.

Michy Batshuayi

Michy Batshuayi appeared to have hit the big time in 2016 when he made a £33.2million move from Marseille (where he'd scored 23 goals the previous season) to Chelsea. The subsequent five years, however, have been a massive disappointment.

Arguably the only reason Chelsea fans will remember that Batshuayi is still on their books is his late winner against West Brom that clinched the Blues their fifth Premier League title in 2016/17.

That aside, he has been sent out on loan four times, most recently for a second time to Crystal Palace where even in a mid-table side he was named in the starting line-up just seven times in the Premier League, scoring only twice.


This all contrasts sharply with his performances for Belgium in which he has scored a notable 22 goals in just 14 starts (coming off the bench 21 times).

He netted just three minutes into his international debut against Cyprus and scored with his first touch in a major tournament, finishing off Eden Hazard's pass against Hungary in a 4-0 win at Euro 2016.

Playing in a squad so full of attacking talent, Batshuayi's goals/games ratio is amazing. If only Chelsea or Palace fans could say the same.

Patrick Schick

Anyone who claims to have backed Patrick Schick for tournament top scorer at Euro 2020 is either the shrewdest punter in history or a flat-out liar.

He opened the scoring with a header in the Czech Republic's first group game against Scotland then let fly with that now-famous halfway line strike which stunned Hampden Park into silence.

If that game was dismissed as a fluke, the Bayer Leverkusen striker backed it up with a penalty against Croatia and the crucial second goal in the shock win over the Netherlands.

His 50% strike rate (15 in 30 appearances) for his country overshadows a club career that has already taken in two clubs in his homeland, two in Serie A and two in the Bundesliga by the age of 25.

Roma director Monchi described him as "one of the brightest prospects in world football" when signing him from Sampdoria in 2017.

However, he scored just five goals in 46 league games. His first season at Bayer Leverkusen in 2020/21, however, was a bit more promising, with 13 goals in all competitions.

Few would have predicted his incredible impact at the Euros.

Patrick Schick is currently 4/1 with Planet Sport Bet to be tournament top scorer.

Don't agree with my suggestions? Why not post a comment below.

(All odds correct at time of publication)

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