Europe’s surprise packages looking to upset the applecart

Every season, there is always a few surprise packages; clubs who come from nowhere in Europe and stun everyone.

Last term, there was AS Monaco who won Ligue 1, RB Leipzig who finished second in the Bundesliga and even Atalanta who secured fourth place in Serie A.

Who can also forget Leicester City whose 2015/16 Premier League title win was like something out of a fairytale? Next season is likely to produce more shocks and there is evidence already to suggest, from early transfer dealings that there are clubs who will emerge from under the radar.

Which clubs should we expect to cause shock and awe next season?

Of course, the Premier League now has at least six potential teams who could win the title and it has now got to a point where we shouldn’t be surprised to see any one of both Manchester clubs, Liverpool, Chelsea, Tottenham or Arsenal (yes, really!) achieve league success, though there are a couple at least who could upset the odds.

It is also about time that La Liga’s top three was shaken up a bit. Aside from Atletico Madrid’s title crown in 2013/14, Real Madrid and Barcelona have dominated since 2003/04 when Valencia won it. Even one club breaking these three up would be seen as a considerable achievement.

Let’s have a look at potential outsiders who we should be keeping an eye on next term!

Real Sociedad

A team which has all of the fundamental essentials of a winning side; a strong core, which includes goalkeeper Geronimo Rulli, talented ball-playing centre back Inigo Martinez, central midfielders Esteban Granero, Asier Illaramendi, Sergio Canales and Xabi Prieto (captain) all of who are very technically gifted.

Of course, former Arsenal striker Carlos Vela continues to be a menace in front of goal aided by the efforts of 24-year-old Spanish talent Juanmi who bagged 11 goals in his first season with the Basque club.

The team also play good football, enabled by the technical quality that runs throughout the team, though particularly in midfield, who are all great distributors of the ball with great awareness and intelligence.

With a couple of additions (Adnan Januzaj is in the process of signing) and self-belief, they can cause a shock next term and improve on their sixth place finish, especially if they retain their best players, with Vela set for a key season.

Everton

It’s looking like it could be an exciting campaign for Toffees fans next season. Having already signed goalkeeper Jordan Pickford and former Ajax captain Davy Klaassen, prodigious Spanish talent Sandro Ramirez is said to be also on his way, while links continue around Celtic striker Moussa Dembele and Swansea star Gyfli Sigurdsson.

If they can keep hold of star names, Romelu Lukaku and Ross Barkley as well, it will be a sure-fire sign that the Merseyside club have a strong hand in the future when it comes to dealing with other clubs who pursue their players.

Of course, youth development continues to be important for the Toffees, with Koeman blooding prodigious talent Tom Davies last season, who has all the makings of a top player, while Ademola Lookman, who signed from Charlton in January, continues to grow.

Investment which can undoubtedly transform Everton into top four contenders if they can gel quickly and hit the ground running. Don’t be surprised to see Ronald Koeman’s side dazzle.

Sampdoria

One of those ‘vogue’ names of Italian football, though, the Serie A side showed some good glimpses last term. While star forward Patrik Schick is set to join Juventus, the presence of Luis Muriel, plus the reported in-bound Josip Illicic from Fiorentina can still get them goals.

Meanwhile, the club do still have a core of players who can form the platform for a successful season, with the experience of Angelo Palombo in midfield and Fabio Quagliarella up front set to be key if they are to cause a shock next season.

Shoring up their defence though is seen as key and with West Ham’s Angelo Ogbonna linked, he can make a big difference. While they finished 10th last season, if they hit the ground running and bring in a couple of astute acquisitions, Sampdoria are worth keeping an eye on next term.

EA Guingamp

A team who don’t easily concede goals, if they can add to their attacking arsenal, the French outfit could be one to keep an eye on next term after a respectable 10th place finish last time out.

Veteran striker Jimmy Briand’s haul of 12 goals was an indication that he could do with hand to take the pressure off, though for a club who launched the careers of  Didier Drogba, Florent Malouda, Fabrice Abriel, and Vincent Candela, it is clear they have a knack of spotting talent.

However, with 20-year-old striker Marcus Cocu going from strength-to-strength, if he continues his development he could catapult the club into the higher echelons next season, following in the footsteps of other young Ligue 1 strikers of the past; Michy Batshuayi and Alexandre Lacazette became important players for their clubs.

Wolves

It was perhaps a surprise that the West Midlands outfit didn’t present more of a challenge last season, especially considering the new investment they have on board.

There have been signals in the transfer window so far that they are preparing for an assault on the Championship next season, with the signings of defenders Miranda (Rio Ave), Phil Ofuso-Ayeh (Eintracht Braunschweig) and Ryan Bennett (Norwich City) as they attempt to shore up their rearguard.

With Preston North End hitman, Jordan Hugill also linked, it is clear the club are well under way with their preparations for next term and could be a surprise force in the league.

They are an ambitious club and the expected big recruitment drive over the summer could transform them into serious challengers.