Snubbed: 7 players who deserved to be at the upcoming World Cup
Words by Karan Teli
With the domestic season drawing to a close and the World Cup in Russia just a few weeks away, it’s time to put clubs to one side and rally for countries now. Recently the 23 man squads for each nation have been/are being announced. And this will mean that there will be those delighted to have made the cut and those aggrieved to have been given the chop. So let’s have a look at 7 unlucky players snubbed for selection.
Jack Wilshere CM (Arsenal/England)
Well, Arsenal were garbage this year! But this season we saw more consistency from Wilshere fitness wise. No real lengthy lay off. And after some good contributions to the Arsenal side during the second half of the season, it seemed almost obvious that the creative midfielder would earn a seat on the plane to Russia. Perhaps the minor knee injury which kept Wilshere out of friendlies versus Italy and Holland cast the doubt of reliability in Gareth Southgate’s mind. It’s okay though, we have Dier, Loftus-Cheek and Livermore instead!
Anthony Martial LW (Manchester United/France)
This is all Mourinho’s doing really, isn’t it? The January arrival of Alexis Sanchez from Arsenal impacted heavily on the game time of not only Anthony Martial but also England’s Marcus Rashford also. Martial hasn’t looked happy at United since Zlatan Ibrahimovic came and took his number and his position! And as a result, Martial has fallen down the pecking order in the France team with the likes of Mbappe, Lemar, Dembele and Thauvin being preferred.
Radja Nainggolan CM (Roma/Belgium)
Let’s see here… 3rd place in Serie A with Roma, semi-final of the Champions League and looked just about the only player in the Roma team holding his own against Liverpool. Regarded as one of the best box to box midfielders in Europe – Roberto Martinez instead chooses Marouane Fellaini and a relegated Nacer Chadli. The sad thing for Nainggolan is that at 30 years of age, this was perhaps his last opportunity to contribute at a World Cup for perhaps the most talented Belgium team we have ever seen. Cruel!
Mauro Icardi ST (Inter/Argentina)
I’ll give you one guess as to which Argentinian striker scored more goals than Mauro Icardi this season. There is only one who did. His 29 goals in 34 appearances were challenged only by Lazio’s Ciro Immobile (despite Paulo Dybala and Gonzalo Higuain plying their trade in the same league) and helped fire Inter Milan back into the Champions League for the first time since 2012. Icardi more than deserves a place in the Argentina squad this summer. But this snub really pays testament to the embarrassment of riches they have in attack.
Alexandre Lacazette ST (Arsenal/France)
During Lacazette’s first season at Arsenal, he had suffered from an ongoing knee injury which then required keyhole surgery in February and at least 2 months out of action. But despite all that (and being substituted in the 70th minute every time he starts), the Frenchman still managed 17 goals and 4 assists in 30 appearances. However, French manager Didier Deschamps has opted to overload on wingers and prefers the little and large combination of Antoine Griezmann and Olivier Giroud upfront for Les Bleus. Tough break!
José Callejón RW (Napoli/Spain)
Admittedly, José Callejón has never been a regular in the current Spanish squad. His more traditional wing play just doesn’t suit the intricate, technical, possession style of play that the national squad adopt. But his ability and his consistent contribution domestically at least warrants consideration. Callejón chipped in with 11 goals and 12 assists for Napoli in all competitions as they ran Juventus to the wire in the race for Serie A. Looking at the 23 man squad I’d certainly take Callejón over one or two names… but what do I know!!
Mario Gotze CAM (Borussia Dortmund/Germany)
I mean just off the strength that he scored the winning goal in extra time at the last World Cup should earn him an automatic spot in this one! Sadly that’s not how it works. Since his return to Borussia Dortmund, Gotze has suffered from a string of health problems which have impacted his general fitness and game time. And because of this, his 2017/2018 has been lacklustre and he has fallen down the pecking order with youngsters like Jadon Sancho being given their chance ahead of him. Should Germany reach the final in July (hopefully they don’t) they’ll need a new hero to rise to the occasion.