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Dublin: 10°C Saturday 15 May 2021

The XI best players that didn't make their country's World Cup squad

This star-studded team could win the tournament, but all were left behind by their nations.

GK: Joe Hart (England)

Joe Hart File Photo Hart has had a turbulent few seasons and lost his place in the England squad. Source: PA Wire/PA Images

The 31-year-old has been England’s first choice ‘keeper for almost eight years but has lost his place in recent months as his club career faltered.

Many were surprised by his omission and he is the most high-profile goalkeeper left behind by any of the 32 teams competing.

LB: Marcos Alonso (Spain)

PFA Premier League Team of the Year The Chelsea man has been one of few positives in an otherwise disappointing season for the London club. Source: PA Wire/PA Images

Alonso can count himself extremely unlucky to miss out for Spain and with good reason.

He’s been exceptional with Chelsea over the past two years and even scored eight goals this season. Spain’s depth is incredible, Alonso would make most other squads in the tournament.

CB: Aymeric Laporte (France)

Manchester City v Liverpool - UEFA Champions League - Quarter Final - Second Leg - Etihad Stadium Laporte has settled in well since his move to Manchester City. Source: PA Archive/PA Images

Manchester City paid a reported £57 million for his services in January and it’s a good investment. At just 23, he already had four full seasons at Athletic Bilbao in La Liga and is an incredibly accomplished centre-half. Samuel Umtiti, Adil Rami, Raphaël Varane and Presnel Kimpembe were deemed better suitors by Didier Deschamps.

CB: Shkodran Mustafi (Germany)

Spain: Atletico de Madrid vs Arsenal FC Mustafi in action for Arsenal in May. Source: SIPA USA/PA Images

A World Cup winner in 2014, Mustafi has been a regular member of Germany squads in the last few years but finds himself exiled for this tournament. The Arsenal man has failed to sparkle at the Emirates since his move in August 2016, this perhaps being a big factor in his exclusion from the squad.

RB: Dani Alves (Brazil)

GES/ Fussball/ Germany - Brasilien, 27.03.2018 The Brazilian was set to go to Russia this summer but picked up an injury that has ruled him out. Source: Thomas Eisenhuth

The former Barcelona man picked up a knee injury while playing with PSG in May and is ruled out of Brazil’s plans. The veteran full-back was on track to go to a third World Cup after a renaissance of sorts in his career really put him in a great position to shine this summer, heartbreaking stuff.

RM: Leroy Sané (Germany)

Football Laenderspiel / Freundschaftsspiel / Oesterreich-Germany 2-1 Sané had a breakout season with Manchester City and is one of the more surprising omissions. Source: DPA/PA Images

In probably one of the more shocking exclusions, Sané failed to make Germany’s final squad despite a Premier League winning season that saw him score 14 goals and provide 19 assists. It’s a bold move from Joachim Lowe to leave the 22-year-old out and one he may come to regret.

CM: Radja Nainggolan (Belgium)

Italy: AS Roma v Juventus - Serie A The AS Roma midfielder was left out of Roberto Martinez's Belgium squad. Source: SIPA USA/PA Images

The self-proclaimed ‘only top player who missed two consecutive World Cups’. The AS Roma midfielder is worthy of a place in this side. The tenacious 30-year-old almost dragged Roma to a Champions League final and has had an amazing season, why has Roberto Martinez not included him in the Belgium squad?

CM: Cesc Fabregas (Spain)

Chelsea v Manchester United - Emirates FA Cup - Final - Wembley Stadium Spain will be leaving behind one of the most experienced players at their disposal this summer. Source: EMPICS Sport

Even with the sacking of Lopetegui just two days for their opener doesn’t change that Fabregas won’t be involved.

It just shows the sheer depth of the Spanish team when a decorated star of the calibre of Fabregas doesn’t make the 23 man squad. He’s still only 31 and running the show at Chelsea. He has been capped a massive 110 times, surely it’s some kind of administrative error that meant he wasn’t included?

LM: Anthony Martial (France)

France: France v Wales - International Friendly The 22-year-old didn't make the final France squad. Source: SIPA USA/PA Images

Martial’s exclusion from the France squad is a real blow to his career. It looked as if he would be a leading light for the French when he joined Manchester United as a teenager, but Jose Mourinho’s use of the winger has almost stalled his career in a way. Martial is certainly good enough to make it into any other of the 32 teams.

ST: Karim Benzema (France)

Ukraine Soccer Champions League Final The French striker pounces on a Karius error in the Champions League final. Source: Sergei Grits

Benzema hasn’t played for France since 2015 and it’s a real shame. He has 81 caps and could have been one of the most experienced at the tournament had it not been for his issues with the French Football Federation. He scored Real Madrid’s opening goal in the Champions League final and would be good enough to make the squad.

ST: Alvaro Morata (Spain)

Chelsea v Southampton - Emirates FA Cup - Semi Final - Wembley Stadium Morata hasn't impressed since his move from Real Madrid last summer. Source: Andrew Matthews

Morata has not had the best of times since moving to Chelsea but has still been a part of the Spain squad until he was left out over players such as Iago Aspas and Rodrigo. He’s out of favour at Chelsea but that doesn’t mean he can’t do it for Spain, scoring 13 goals in his 23 appearances. At 25, you suspect that he has another World Cup in him.

Substitutes: David Luiz (Brazil), Hector Bellerin (Spain), Alex Oxlade Chamberlain (England), Mario Götze (Germany), Dimitri Payet (France), Mauro Icardi (Argentina), Alexandre Lacazette (France).  

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