Five players we won’t be seeing in Russia4 min read
A fervent wait has come to an end as the 2018 FIFA World Cup with its stage set in Russia, is scheduled to start in a few days’ time. The World Cup is the most prestigious stage for international football, with 32 teams participating in tournament’s 21st edition.
In this list, we’ll be looking at five football players who have been denied the opportunity to feature in their national team squad for the World Cup, despite having a remarkable season with their respective football clubs.
1. Radja Nainggolan (Belgium)
The 30-year-old defensive-midfielder is a regular starter for Italian club AS Roma, having been very influential in their UEFA Champions League and Serie A campaign, scoring 2 and 4 goals, respectively. Nainggolan, who is known for being an advanced playmaker has announced his retirement after failing to be included in his country’s World Cup squad. Belgian coach Roberto Martinez, to the fans’ dismay said “Selecting Nainggolan would have been a big mistake.”- later including Mousa Dembele and Marouane Fellaini as replacements for Nainggolan in the final 23-man squad. Nainggolan, however has played only 30 games, netting six goals, in the 10 years he has played for the Belgian senior team.
2. Mauro Icardi (Argentina)
The 25-year-old Inter Milan captain and striker has been excluded from the 23-man list for Argentina’s World Cup squad by coach Jorge Sampaoli, due to lack of game time with his national side and his relationship with teammates. Strikers Gonzalo Higuain and Sergio Aguero have made their way to the final squad, replacing Icardi. The striker has had a great run with his club scoring 100 goals in 159 games over five seasons, being the top scorer in two. However, he has had very little playtime with his country capping only four matches, scoring in none.
3. Leroy Sane (Germany)
The 22-year-old winger/attacking midfielder plays for English club Manchester City. The youngster, has been an essential part of City’s record-breaking title-winning season, having started 27 games out of the 32 he has played. To add to his list of achievements this season, Sane was voted the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) Young Player of the Year. He has scored a total of 10 goals and provided 15 assists in the 2017-18 season in the English Premier League. World Cup winning coach Joachim Low excluded him from the 23-man squad of the reigning champions, saying it was a ‘tight call’ choosing between Leroy Sane and Bayer Leverkusen’s Julian Brandt, going with the latter. Despite his success with club sides, Sane has played only 12 matches for Germany, scoring in none.
4. Sergi Roberto (Spain)
The 26-year-old plays for Barcelona mainly as a right-back, but can also play as a central midfielder, defensive midfielder or winger. He excelled in seven different positions under ex-Barcelona coach Luis Enrique in the 2016-17 season. His versatility on the field has led him to being one of Barcelona’s most valuable players, aiding them in their victorious 2017-18 La Liga campaign where they lost only one out of 38 league matches. However, he has played only three matches for the Spanish senior team. Spanish coach Julen Lopetegui has replaced Roberto with rival Spanish club Real Madrid’s fullbacks Dani Carvajal and Nacho.
5. Marcos Alonso (Spain)
The 27-year-old fullback plays for English club Chelsea. He has had a successful career with his club side, winning the league title in his very first season. In the 2017-18 season, he aided Chelsea to an FA Cup victory and a fifth spot finish in the Premier League. Alonso is a regular starter for Chelsea, having played 33 games, scoring seven goals. Coach Julen Lopetegui chose Barcelona fullback Jordi Alba over Alonso as he lacked experience with the national side, having played only a single game with the team.
Other shocking exclusions: Alexandre Lacazette (France), Anthony Martial (France), Kingsley Coman (France), Mario Gotze (Germany), Alex Sandro (Brazil), Alvaro Morata (Spain).
Featured Image Courtesy: Twitter/FIFA World Cup
Edited by: Tarush Dhume