Somewhere in a cul-de-sac in a rural village in Kent sits a man stressed. He’s contemplating how England will cope without the services of Jonjo Shelvey. While he’s just one man, he reflects the level of optimism the Three Lions should have going into this summer’s World Cup.
Elsewhere in the world, there are actual decisions to be made. Involving actual footballers who can make an actual difference. I mean, up until a few weeks ago, everyone was panicking that Joe Hart was going to be a legitimate option for Gareth Southgate.
Here are the top eight players that have been left out of their respective nations’ squads for Russia this summer.
This shouldn’t come as a massive shock in truth – Lacazette has only been capped 16 times in the last six years, but after a very solid campaign for an Arsenal side that were clearly struggling, you could make an argument for him being in the squad.
He played nearly 40 times for Bayern Munich this season. Again, we know Javi Martinez has only picked up a handful of caps for Spain since first appearing for them since 2010, but a lack of guile in midfield has cost them before and likely will again. Martinez fits the mould.
He’s been outstanding since arriving at Chelsea and while this could very easily just turn into a full Spanish list, it won’t – we promise. However, after making his debut in March, it seemed that he was very much in Spain’s plans for Brazil but his omission now seems odd. Maybe it’s the fact he played for Bolton and Ivan Campo wanted that honour to himself.
Just started a load of Champions League finals consecutively while Olivier Giroud (handsome and all as he is) is popping off the bench for a Chelsea team that looks devoid of all football. That’s cool, you do you, France. I suppose your history in these tournaments is completely squeaky-clean. He hasn’t played for France since October 2015.
Right, he’s only been capped ten times for Brazil. That’s the disclaimer. Now, he’s a young, athletic full back who’s been a key part to a Juventus team sweeping all before them. But of course, Brazil have never been known to have defensive problems at major tournaments. Nope. Never.
This one might need some explaining. He’s one of the most technically-superb midfielders on the planet, while he plays for a rising nation, they’re not yet in the top tier, and he’s just 30. Belgium’s indifference to him is baffling and he retired after not being selected for the World Cup qualifiers in 2017.
However, after being selected for some friendlies under Roberto Martinez, it appeared the communication lines were once again opened. He has since announced his retirement again. Hard to blame him.
While Germany can boast as many riches as anyone in the world, there’s surely a spot for one of Europe’s best performers in Leroy Sane. He was a consistent outlet for Man City, playing at the highest level and those performances didn’t drop in Europe.
He’s also got more energy than most in that Germany side. They can look a tad robotic at times and while Draxler wins on versatility, Sane’s an all-round better footballer. Baffling.
To fully understand how stupid of a decisions this truly is, you must compare Mauro Icardi with his replacement, which is most likely Cristian Pavon.
Icardi has scored 81 goals in his last 137 games in Serie A. He’s been the league’s top scorer twice in the last four years, including this season. Pavon plays for Boca Juniors and cost a million quid.