Gerard Pique has shot down former Barcelona and Spain teammate Cesc Fabregas after he suggested Kyle Walker as the best player at Euro 2020.
The much-maligned England defender had been a near ever-present for Gareth Southgate heading into this evening’s final against Italy at Wembley Stadium having only missed the meeting with Scotland on matchday two.
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Across his six appearances including the final Walker has either been used at right-back or part of a back-three, the latter today, and he’s seemingly never put a foot wrong as Southgate’s men ended a 55-year wait to reach a major international tournament final.
Consequently, many observers have applauded Walker’s performances, including ex-Arsenal skipper Fabregas who declared him as “arguably best player of the tournament”. After publicly declaring his stance, Fabregas’ compatriot and childhood friend Pique — who together helped La Roja win Euro 2012 — disagreed instead offering up his own choice. “Chiesa,” he replied. This prompted the Monaco midfielder to clarify his statement by tweeting “Most consistent at least”.
The 23-year-old Federico Chiesa has also enjoyed a strong championship having registered two goals across Italy’s last three matches before facing England in the showpiece event. The Juventus forward was a constant thorn in England’s side with his penetrating runs but was taken off in the 86th minute after sustaining a troublesome injury.
Walker himself didn’t see the match out as Southgate took him off deep into extra time with a penalty shootout contest on the horizon. Luke Shaw had given the de facto hosts of the pan-European games a record-breaking early lead before evergreen centre-back Leonardo Bonucci equalised 23 minutes from time.
His replacement Jadon Sancho would be one of three England players alongside fellow sub Marcus Rashford and Bukayo Saka to miss from 12 yards, all their efforts bar Rashford’s was saved by soon-to-be Paris Saint-Germain goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma including the all-important deciding penalty, the organisers subsequently named him as the official Euro 2020 player of the tournament much to his bemusement.
Donnarumma’s heroics mean the Azzurri join France and Germany as multiple World and European champions. It’s their second Euro title after triumphing in 1968, when they beat Yugoslavia across two legs, as well as putting to bed the final pain they suffered in 2000 and 2012 against France and Spain respectively.