From Kaepernick To Balotelli: The Sporting Names To Watch Out For In 2020

With the Euros, the Olympics and all sorts in between, there's plenty to keep an eye on
07:01, 01 Jan 2020

A new year brings a new start and a new chance to make a mark in the sporting world. Not only are there bound to be some fresh faces drawing attention in 2020, there are also existing stars who could break through new barriers in the coming 12 months.

So here’s a look at who we should be keeping an eye on this year...

INTER MIAMI

It feels like it has been a very long time in coming, but David Beckham’s Inter Miami will finally step foot on the field in 2020. A full 13 years on from the former England captain signing an LA Galaxy contract which included the right to front an MLS franchise, his club will make their bow on March 1st away to Los Angeles FC.

Things are starting to come together for the Herons, with former Monterrey and Pachuca manager Diego Alonso announced as their first-ever boss on Tuesday. They will have to wait another two years for their new purpose-built 25,000-seater Miami Freedom Park stadium to be constructed, but we’ll soon find out whether Beckham can cut it as an owner without his fellow Salford City chiefs leading the way.

TORONTO WOLFPACK

They’ve been around for three years already but it is in 2020 that Toronto Wolfpack will really shake up the sport of rugby league.

Having won promotion to Super League in October, the groundbreaking club will become the first Canadian outfit to play in the UK’s top flight, with a Greater Manchester training base and home fixtures split into blocks to cut down on the inevitable travel issues.They are tipped to shock a few people too, with multi-sport star Sonny Bill Williams adding to an already-stacked playing squad as Brian McDermott’s side look to make an immediate push for the top-five play-offs at the first time of asking.

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SAM KERR

Her transfer to Chelsea in November caused a stir for a very good reason. Kerr is one of the stars of women's football, and her arrival in the English game is the latest significant statement of intent following last summer's Women's World Cup.

Crowds across England have risen remarkably in the last few months, and the signing of Australian superstar Kerr adds a new edge to the Women's Super League at a time when many of the country's best stars are being lured abroad.

Kerr could be a real game-changer, with the Matildas' skipper proving that the WSL can be a destination for the sport's biggest names.

RASHID KHAN

The Hundred is a proper unknown quantity, but what we can count on is nationwide exposure to some of the greatest cricketers in the world between July 17th and August 16th.

Of all of the star names heading to these shores, it was Afghan leg-break Rashid Khan who was the first to be selected in the inaugural draft in October. He was the Trent Rockets' £125,000 pick, and it was little surprise to pundits given his T20 bowling record of 278 wickets at an average of less than 17.He was also the youngest captain in Test cricket history when he led out Afghanistan at the age of just 20 years and 340 days against Bangladesh last year.

COLIN KAEPERNICK

Four years on from the chain of events which changed his life forever, quarterback Kaepernick faces a make or break year in 2020.

The then-San Francisco 49ers star first sat and then knelt for the national anthem during the run-up to the 2016 presidential election, leading to criticism from Donald Trump and eventual ostracism from the NFL.

Four years on, Kaepernick could be one to watch as Americans again consider the ethics of his actions ahead of the next election. He also unsuccessfully attempted to hold a workout to attract a new deal for 2020 recently, but are there any clubs brave enough to sign him given his baggage? Watch this space.

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LEWIS HAMILTON

Lewis Hamilton is so hot right now that he is racing against history rather than against his current rivals.

The British driver has collected three straight World Championships and six in total, leaving him just one title shy of Michael Schumacher's record mark. With 84 race wins, he also sits just seven behind the legendary German's high, meaning a championship crown and eight wins in 2020 would make Hamilton the most successful driver in Formula 1 history.At a time when Lewis is lacking competition, the prospect of him chasing down the best ever is utterly compelling.

MARIO BALOTELLI

One of sport's great mavericks, Balotelli is likely to be on the move again in 2020 after a rocky beginning to life with hometown club Brescia.

"In January he can leave on a free," said Brescia president Massimo Cellino recently. "In this moment, he needs to choose which road is best for him."

Balotelli could well be about to take his one-man sideshow to a new destination, and fireworks are never far behind (sorry!) Even if he is failing to reproduce the quality he displayed at times with Inter, Manchester City and AC Milan, he remains one of sport's most fascinating sons. Keep an eye on him.

SHAUNA COXSEY

Britain’s greatest boulderer takes to the wall in Tokyo this year, with climbing included in the Olympic Games for the first time. The Runcorn product told The Sportsman in November that just the very thought of her sport being included in the Olympics is taking some getting used to.

“It’s still kind of crazy and surreal for me that climbing is actually in the Olympics and just to think that I’ve qualified for the games just blows my mind, still, even though I’m training towards it already,” she explained.

Coxsey isn’t the only British hope, of course. Among the hopefuls for gold are reigning world champion Jamie Cooke in the men’s modern pentathlon, and Dina Asher-Smith, who won the women’s 200 metres at the 2019 World Athletics Championships.After 29 golds in London in 2012 and 27 in Rio four years ago, expectations will be high for more GB success in Tokyo this summer.

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DANIEL DUBOIS

With five knockout victories in five fights, Dubois’ 2019 was a real standout in the heavyweight division, stretching his record to 14-0 with 13 KOs. Now the Londoner looks set to become one of the leading contenders in 2020.

‘Dynamite’ Dubois has been lined up for a tilt at the vacant European heavyweight crown this year, with his promoter Frank Warren stating that a failure to secure a fight with Joe Joyce for that belt could result in an equally high-profile bout being lined up.

“My wish is for him to face Joe Joyce for the European heavyweight title in April at The 02,” Warren told the Daily Star.

“If Joyce doesn’t take that fight then I hope someone like Derek Chisora or Dillian Whyte would step in to face him.”

While Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury have dominated the British heavyweight scene in recent times, ‘Triple D’ might well burst into the same bracket in 2020.

CHRISTIAN ERIKSEN

There might have been a fairly high-profile change of managers at Tottenham earlier this season but that appears to have done little to alter Christian Eriksen’s transfer status. The great Dane remains likely to move from White Hart Lane this year, whether that be in January or the summer. Manchester United lead the race to snap up the former Ajax attacker, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer looking to add a creative edge to his attacking midfield ranks.

Eriksen will be far from the only man on the move in the football world though, with the likes of Thomas Meunier, Willian, Dries Mertens and Edinson Cavani among those running into the final six months of their contracts. And then there’s the prospect of big names such as Paul Pogba, David Silva and Mesut Ozil trying their luck elsewhere next season too.

As ever, the transfer market will be every bit as fascinating as the product on the field itself.