The start of a new season for footballers is just like the start of a new year for common folk; time to set new goals, break new ground and attain new heights.
But every year, some players come into a new season with a make or break mentality. More often than not these players are coming off a poor campaign last time out, or making up for lost time due to injury, or even trying to justify massive transfer fees.
Below are five players who with something to prove in the 2016/17 football season:
5 Memphis Depay (Manchester United):
If there is one player who has something to show next season, it is Dutch forward Memphis Depay.
It’s been a roller-coaster past few years for the Dutch forward. A good showing in the 2014 World Cup, followed by a stellar final season at PSV Eindhoven, where he helped his team to the league title, finishing as top scorer and winning the Johan Cruyff trophy.
Big expectations followed his big money move to Manchester United, which started well enough but didn’t last long.
The dribbles stopped coming off; the crosses found no one, and the shots failed to hit the back of the net.
Before long, he found himself behind the likes of Marcus Rashford and Lingard in the pecking order. However Manchester United have a new manager, and the dynamic winger will be looking to impress as early as possible.
4 James Rodriguez (Real Madrid):
Big money signing James Rodriguez must have been living the dream in 2014, winning the Golden Boot at the World Cup and making the team of the tournament.
The achievements were followed by a move to his dream club Real Madrid, where he had a stellar first campaign. But his second season he struggled with injuries, only to find himself on the bench with the likes of Casameiro and Lucas Vasquez getting the nod ahead of him.
Zinedine Zidane has recently said he cannot guarantee him a place in Madrid’s first team this season, meaning James will have to work twice as hard with the limited opportunities he gets to ensure he stays in the first XI.
3 Mario Gotze (Bayern Munich)
For about four years Gotze was the darling of the German media, a midfield maverick capable of playing anywhere behind the striker, and even as a false 9.
But his move to Bayern Munich hasn’t gone as planned and he made only 114 appearances in all competitions for the German giants spanning across three seasons.
Although his name is permanently etched in history as the man who won the 2014 World Cup, he has suffered the ignominy of being told that his services are not needed by both the coach and the chairman of Bayern Munich.
A move back to Dortmund looks likely, and he will be looking to rekindle his career under the tutelage of Simon Tuchel.
2 Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal):
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain came to Arsenal as a fearless 18-year-old in 2011, and he looked like he had the world at this feet.
But things haven’t gone according to plan, as lack of confidence, injuries and loss of form have taken their toll on the England International.
Last season, he contributed only one goal and as many assists, and his stock is now so low that most Arsenal fans don’t see him as a viable alternative in his favourite position, right midfield.
With two years left on his present contract, he will need to make a real impact this season, or his time at the Emirates might be over soon.
1 Oscar (Chelsea):
In the summer of 2012 when Eden Hazard and Oscar transferred to Stamford Bridge, opinion was split amongst fans and pundits as regards who was the most talented footballer.
But while Eden Hazard has morphed into one of the best wing forwards in the world, Oscar has struggled to make any sort of real impact at Chelsea in the last two seasons.
The long range shooting accuracy and quick feet which made him such a joy to watch in his first two seasons are gone.
In a Chelsea side always willing to buy the best players in the world, anything less than a stellar campaign from the Brazilian midfielder this season and he might find himself in the shop window sooner rather than later.