Defeat to South Korea ended dreams of a medal at their locally hosted Games for the British squad but many of them do not have much time to reflect on their exit
By Chris Myson
The dust is only just settling on Team GB's exit from the Olympics at the hands of South Korea, and the football tournament at the Games still has time to run until it reaches a conclusion next week.
For the British players involved this summer, though, it is an almost immediate return to the harsh realities of preparing for the new Premier League season – and for many, an uncertain time awaits.
After a fortnight of fun away from their clubs, there are futures to be decided, moves to be sealed and preparations to complete before the transfer window slams shut at the end of August.
One of those players with a future up in the air is Daniel Sturridge. The vital penalty miss and resulting tears will be what the Chelsea forward is remembered for at these Games, despite showing his eye for goal by netting twice in the group stages.
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With Fernando Torres already at Chelsea, though, and Roberto Di Matteo still shopping for another front-man, Sturridge could find himself squeezed out, with Liverpool and Tottenham both interested in securing his signature for a fee of around £10 million, as Goal.com revealed last month.
Joe Allen further enhanced his credentials with his Olympics performances and, as well as Sturridge, the Reds are circling the Welshman. A broad agreement over his £13.5m transfer fee is in place with Swansea, and Brendan Rodgers will want a move completed swiftly now his involvement in the tournament is at an end.
Arguably Team GB's Player of the Games was Craig Bellamy, but Liverpool may be willing to let the Welshman off their wage-bill to ease their pursuits of other targets. There will be no shortage of takers for the 33-year-old, with QPR and Cardiff City amongst the teams already linked with a swoop, although an Anfield stay is still not completely out of the question.
Scott Sinclair quickly forced his way into the team for the Olympics but returns to Swansea with his future very much up in the air. He is poised to reject a new contract at the Liberty Stadium with Fulham and Aston Villa having expressed their interest, meaning the winger has some quick thinking to do now his Olympic efforts have come to an end.
Few Premier League fans had heard of Jack Butland before this summer, but his surprise call up for Euro 2012 with England and subsequent involvement with Team GB at the Games have thrown the starlet into the public eye.
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Speaking last month, new Birmingham boss Lee Clark said that it would take a "crazy" offer to tempt him into selling the goalkeeper, but he may be tested in the weeks that remain of the transfer window.
Aaron Ramsey suffered a mixed tournament, losing his starting place, getting back into the team and then scoring one penalty and missing another at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday night.
While he has not been linked with a move away from Arsenal, he faces a fight for his long-term future at the club after increasing criticism came his way towards the latter part of last season and with the impending arrivals of Santi Cazorla and Nuri Sahin from Malaga and Real Madrid, respectively.
The same situation applies with Tom Cleverley at Manchester United. Having only just come back from a lengthy injury absence by playing in the Olympics, he returns to Old Trafford with Shinji Kagawa signed and Paul Scholes out of retirement. It is possible the youngster is not going to be as prominent as he may hope in Sir Alex Ferguson’s first-team plans.
The GB manager, Stuart Pearce, is not free from uncertainty either. Having not been named as a prominent member of Roy Hodgson's backroom staff for England, he only has his role with the Under-21s and no obvious job to aim for in the national set-up.
GB football at the Olympics was a step into the unknown for the nation, supporters and players on the pitch. Now the latter will go back to their clubs facing similarly unchartered waters. With only a fortnight until the start of the Premier League season and less than a month of the transfer window to go, they return with more questions than answers.