There will be a lot of talented players watching the World Cup from the ‘comfort’ of their couches this summer as their countries failed to qualify for football’s premier tournament or else they simply weren’t chosen for their national squad. In rare cases, some decided to make themselves unavailable for selection. Tut tut Carlos! Here are the ten most exciting players we’ll miss in Brazil.
10. Philippe Coutinho – Liverpool & Brazil
This Brazilian magician played an impressive role in Liverpool’s second place finish in the Premier League by playing 37 games and scoring 5 goals. His skill and pinpoint passing could have been a great asset for the Brazilian attacking force but Brazil boss Felipe Scolari opted to not include him in his squad. However, the Brazilian attacking midfielder shouldn’t be too upset as he is only 22 this summer and should have the 2018 World Cup competition firmly in his sights.
9. Henrikh Mkhitaryan – Borussia Dortmund & Armenia
The Armenian midfielder impressed in his first season at Borussia Dortmund with 31 appearances and 9 goals after a €22million move from Shakhtar Donetsk last July. However, the attacking midfielder didn’t have much to be happy about in his international career as Armenia failed to qualify for the World Cup, finishing second last in Group B which Italy eventually won outright.
8. David Alaba – Bayern Munich & Austria
Alaba had a successful season with Bayern Munich as they dominated German football by running away with the Bundesliga and defeating Borussia Dortmund in the DFB Cup Final. The full back turned midfielder put everything into trying to help his national side qualify for this year’s World Cup, exemplified by his six goals in qualification. However, it was Germany who went on to win Group C.
7. Arda Turan – Atletico Madrid & Turkey
Turan has enjoyed an amazing season with his Atleti teammates who have won La Liga, Atleti’s first title triumph since 1996. A Champions League Final appearance is also on the cards for the Turkish midfielder while personally he has played 30 games and scored 4 goals. The attacking midfielder didn’t have similar success with his national side as they finished fourth in their qualifying group while The Netherlands and Hungary managed to get out of Group D.
6. Samir Nasri – Manchester City & France
Nasri had a successful season under new manager Manuel Pellegrini at City where the Manchester side went on to win the League Cup and Premier League. Nasri also impressed individually through his goal in the League Cup win against Sunderland earlier this year and made himself a regular in the Pellegrini’s side. He finished the season with 34 appearances, 7 goals and 7 assists.
France finished second in their qualifying group just behind World Cup holders Spain and were drawn against Ukraine in their World Cup play-off. They went 2-0 down in the first leg but managed win 3-2 over both ties. Nasri was in the French squad for the play-off games but Didier Deschamps decided not to include him in his World Cup squad. This was a shocking decision by Deschamps which led to Nasri’s girlfriend Amara Atanes blasting Deschamps and France on Twitter.
5. Carlos Tevez – Juventus and Argentina
Tevez had a successful season with Juventus who went on to win the Serie A title in dominant fashion. The Argentinian striker also had a great individual season by racking up 19 goals for his Juventus side. It was shocking for football fans when the Argentinian squad was announced and there was no Carlos Tevez included.
It was reported that Tevez had actually asked to be left out of the Argentinian World Cup squad so that he could spend more time with his family. Other reports had also stated that he asked to be left out of the squad so that he could bring his family to Disneyland instead which is both baffling and surprising considering how important the World Cup should be for professional footballers.
4. Robert Lewandowski – Borussia Dortmund & Poland
Borussia Dortmund didn’t have the greatest of seasons as they finished runners-up in the Bundesliga and lost in the DFB Cup final to Bayern Munich. However, the attacker had another impressive individual season as he featured in 47 games and scored 26 goals. The consistent goalscorer’s impressive form has resulted in a move to Bayern Munich next season. Lewandowski admitted he agreed to make the move because he wants to win titles.
“It is my goal to win and collect titles, at Bayern, for sure the opportunity is bigger.”
Lewandowski also had a disappointing run in with his national side as Poland finished fourth in their qualifying group as England went on to win Group H.
3. Kaka – AC Milan and Brazil
Kaka is an iconic figure of world football and has enjoyed a successful career, winning the Champions League and Serie A title with AC Milan and a La Liga title with Real Madrid. The Brazilian midfielder has also played in three World Cup competitions in his career. He was a squad player in Brazil’s triumph in 2002 while he featured in the 2006 and 2010 competitions where Brazil bowed out in the quarter-finals in both competitions.
Kaka returned to AC Milan last summer and unfortunately, it was a hugely disappointing season for the Rossoneri as they finished 8th in the Serie A. Kaka racked up 37 appearances, 9 goals and 5 assists but that wasn’t enough to impress Brazil boss Felipe Scolari.
Scolari has been questioned over his World Cup squad selections as he decided to leave out many big name players such as Kaka, Robinho and Ronaldinho but surely Kaka’s World Cup experience and natural flair in midfield could’ve been beneficial to a young Brazilian squad this summer.
2.Gareth Bale – Real Madrid and Wales
Gareth Bale made football history last summer with his world record transfer to Real Madrid. Many doubted that the Welsh midfielder would impress in the Spanish capital but he went on to have a terrific season for his new club. Bale scored 15 goals in La Liga, 5 goals in the Champions League as well as a breathtaking winning goal in the Copa del Rey final against Barcelona.
Football fans were amazed by Bale’s magnificent solo run and amazing pace which won Madrid the cup against their bitter rivals. His season still isn’t finished and Bale will feature in the Champions League Final against rivals Atletico Madrid.
However, Bale doesn’t have much to cheer about regarding his international career as Wales finished 5th in their qualifying group with Belgium and Croatia qualifying. With Wales in need of more top class players to compete on an international level, it is disappointing to think that a player of Bale’s calibre may never play in a major international tournament.
1. Zlatan Ibrahimovic – PSG and Sweden
The outspoken and controversial Swedish striker had a successful season with PSG after they became Ligue 1 and Coupe de la Ligue champions. Zlatan went on to set a new record for the Parisian club as he racked up 40 goals in all competitions. The striker is unfortunate not be competing in this year’s World Cup as his national side fell at the last hurdle in their play-off against Portugal.
Zlatan almost put his side through after scoring twice but it was a spectacular performance from Portugal’s Ronaldo that denied Sweden a place in the World Cup. Ibrahimovic was disappointed after the play-off defeat but responded to the media in typical Zlatan fashion by claiming,
“The World Cup is nothing without Zlatan.”
Sarah Fitzpatrick, Pundit Arena.
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