December 8, 2021

England vs Wales: The transfer fortunes of 2016 class

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England and Wales meet on Thursday for the first time since Euro 2016. But four years on and players from both of those squads are still making transfer headlines.

The British pair met in Group B of the tournament in France, with Gareth Bale putting Wales ahead just before half-time. Jamie Vardy equalised 11 minutes after the break before a last-gasp winner for Daniel Sturridge sealed a 2-1 win for England.

Despite the defeat, Wales would go on to top the group ahead of England in second and reached the semi-finals, when they were knocked out by eventual champions Portugal. England suffered a shock 2-1 defeat to Iceland in the last 16.

Much has changed since then though. Both teams have new managers and exciting players coming through, but even the old guard can still make waves as they did in the recent summer transfer window.

Here, we take a look at the players involved in the Euro 2016 squads who are still hitting the headlines…

The starters

LENS, FRANCE - JUNE 16: Gareth Bale of Wales celebrates after scoring the first goal during the UEFA EURO 2016 Group B match between England and Wales at
Image: Gareth Bale put Wales ahead at Euro 2016 and made a return to the Premier League this summer

Gareth Bale – Perhaps the biggest transfer of the summer, Bale made a stunning return to Tottenham on loan from Real Madrid. A proud Welshman and team captain, he is the country’s all-time top goalscorer (33) and netted the only goal of the game for Wales against England four years ago.

He continues to be a talisman for Ryan Giggs’ side but once again, injury means he is ruled out of the latest international squad and is yet to feature for Tottenham this season.

Dele Alli – Much was made of Alli’s future this summer. Despite their packed fixture list, the midfielder has only been included in four Tottenham squads this season and started twice. He was hauled off at half-time by Jose Mourinho in an opening weekend defeat to Everton and has yet to recover.

Paris Saint-Germain made multiple loan offers for Alli but Mourinho was clear that the 24-year-old remains a part of his plans. He stayed this summer but the next few months will be crucial for his Spurs future.

Joe Hart of England gestures during the UEFA EURO 2016 Group B match between England and Wales at Stade Bollaert-Delelis on June 16
Image: Joe Hart was England’s No 1 against Wales and is now at Tottenham

Joe Hart – The former England No 1 found himself without a club this summer after leaving Burnley. He was soon snapped up by Jose Mourinho at Tottenham as a back-up to Hugo Lloris and has made two appearances in the Europa League qualifiers.

Danny Rose – The Tottenham left-back spent last season on loan at Newcastle, making 23 Premier League appearances. However, another move did not materialise for Rose this summer and he remains a Tottenham player, but Wales’ Ben Davies and summer signing Sergio Reguilon are both ahead in the pecking order.

Rose was also not given a squad number for the 2020/21 season, indicating further how he is surplus to requirements for Mourinho. If a move to an EFL club does not happen before the domestic deadline of October 16, the 30-year-old will have to bide his time until the window re-opens in January.

Wales' defender Chris Gunter (L) vies for the ball with England's defender Chris Smalling during the Euro 2016 group B football match between England and
Image: Chris Smalling moved from Man Utd to Roma on Deadline Day

Chris Smalling – After the arrival of Harry Maguire last summer, Smalling spent the 2019/20 campaign on loan at Roma, where he impressed under Paulo Fonseca. All parties were keen for the deal to be made permanent, and after discussions throughout the window, Smalling’s £18m arrival was finally confirmed on Deadline Day.

Adam Lallana – It had been a frustrating few years for Lallana at Liverpool but after winning the Premier League, it was time for the midfielder to move on, signing for Brighton in one of the first deals of the summer. He has made four Premier League appearances for the south coast club so far this season, starting twice.

Ashley Williams – The centre-back finds himself without a club after leaving Bristol City at the end of a one-year contract. He made 32 appearances for the Robins, having played a similar number of games for Stoke on loan from Everton in the previous season. Williams has not been included in Giggs’ latest squad, but was called up for last month’s Nations League qualifiers.

The substitutes

Jack Wilshire of England in action
Image: Jack Wilshire has not played for England since 2016 and left West Ham on Deadline Day

Jack Wilshere – Late on Deadline Day, it was announced that Jack Wilshere had left West Ham by mutual consent. Despite previous injury troubles, the midfielder said in a statement that he had been fit for the last eight months but had not been chosen to play. A departure for more regular game time was inevitable.

Wilshere was once the next big thing for Arsenal and England, but he has not played for his country since 2016. He was named man of the match in six of England’s 10 Euro 2016 qualifiers but was not a regular starter in France.

Wilshere was chosen by Gareth Southgate for friendlies ahead of the 2018 World Cup – the same summer he signed for West Ham – but was not included in the final 23-man squad. Still only 28, Wilshere says he can ‘still contribute at the very top of the game’.

Daniel Sturridge – Sturridge scored England’s winner in Lens but he has never rediscovered the form that nearly catapulted Liverpool to the Premier League title in the 2013/14 season. He left the club after their Champions League win – his second European title – and joined Trabzonspor in August 2019.

Daniel Sturridge celebrates England's second goal
Image: Daniel Sturridge scored England’s winning goal against Wales but is currently without a club

However, he had his contract mutually terminated with the Turkish Super Lig side in March 2020 and shortly after, received a four-month worldwide football ban for breaching betting rules and fined £150,000.

Sturridge remains without a club.

Ross Barkley – With so many stars coming in at Chelsea this summer, it was inevitable that some would have to make way as Barkley landed a loan move to Aston Villa. It has been a sensational start to his time there too, scoring in a 7-2 thrashing of Premier League champions Liverpool. He had also scored for Chelsea once this season in a 6-0 Carabao Cup win against Barnsley.

Nathaniel Clyne – Once the first choice right-back for Liverpool and England, Clyne is another player to have been blighted by injury in recent seasons.

Since suffering a back injury ahead of the 2017/18 season, the 29-year-old had made just 25 first-team appearances – the majority coming on a half-season loan at Bournemouth in 2019 – with none last term as he struggled with an ACL injury picked up in a pre-season friendly against Borussia Dortmund.

Image: Injuries have hampered Nathaniel Clyne in recent seasons but he could be on the verge of a Crystal Palace return

Clyne was released by Liverpool in July and has since been training with Crystal Palace, where he came through as a youth player and made 122 senior appearances. Roy Hodgson said on Saturday that a deal was being discussed as Clyne looks to make a fresh start at his former club.

John Stones – Although he remains a Man City player, Stones is by no means a regular. High-profile mistakes for club and country have put the centre-back under scrutiny with just 17 Premier League appearances since the start of last season. Stones has also not been included in three of Pep Guardiola’s five matchday squads this season.

With the arrivals of Nathan Ake and Ruben Dias, Stones has fallen even further down the pecking order but despite suggestions of a move, there was nothing concrete this summer. If game time continues to pass him by, expect some activity in January.

Andy King discusses his remarkable 15-year run at Leicester City and his search for a new challenge in an exclusive interview with Sky Sports News

Andy King – The midfielder’s 14-year association with Leicester came to an end this summer when he was released from the club in June. King had been out on successive loan spells at Swansea, Derby, Rangers and Huddersfield, but is still training with the Foxes as he looks for another club.

He came on as a 76th-minute substitute against England four years ago but has not played for Wales since 2018. However, the Premier League winner does remain an option for Giggs if he can find consistency at club level.

Anyone else?

Only a handful of the remaining England squad are still regulars for club and county – Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling, Jordan Henderson, Marcus Rashford, Eric Dier and Kyle Walker.

James Milner retired from international duty in August 2016. Two years later, Jamie Vardy – who scored England’s equaliser at Euro 2016 – also said he did not want to be considered for England unless there was an injury crisis.

It is a similar story for Wales’ Euro 2016 squad. Crystal Palace goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey is still No 1 with Danny Ward as a back-up, while Chris Gunter, Ben Davies and Jonny Williams have all been called up for the October matches.

But Aaron Ramsey will miss the England friendly after two non-playing members of Juventus’ staff tested positive for coronavirus. West Brom forward Hal Robson-Kanu also suffered a broken arm against Southampton on Sunday and has withdrawn.

Neil Taylor, Joe Allen and Sam Vokes remain on the periphery of Wales’ squad with Giggs favouring younger talent among his recent call ups.