The 10 Best Players Not Heading To Germany
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The 10 Best Players Not Heading To Germany

08/06/24 19:23

With less than a week until Germany and Scotland get the ball rolling for the highly anticipated Euro 2024 tournament, every nation has now submitted their final squad list. Always a hotly debated topic, there were inevitable shock exclusions, and here we take a deeper dive into the biggest names who will not travel to Germany, and why they have been excluded.

Mats Hummels - Dortmund - CB - 35

Hummels has been playing at an elite level since before many of us can even remember. Reaching his second career Champions League final with Dortmund 11 years after his first shows the longevity and quality that he has maintained for well over a decade. Always reliable in defense, he martials the back line superbly, and loves a last-ditch tackle or block.

Germany do have other world-class defensive options, including Dortmund teammate Nico Schlotterbeck and Real Madrid center-back Toni Rudiger. However other names, like Robin Koch and Waldemar Anton, despite having good seasons in their own right, should not be getting into the squad over Hummels on merit. His advanced age could be what puts Julian Nagelsmann off, but Germany would certainly have benefitted from the experience of Hummels, particularly in the latter stages of the tournament.

James Maddison - Tottenham Hotspur - CAM - 27

At the start of the season, no-one would have argued that James Maddison deserved to be in the England squad. Assisting team mates left right and center, he was the focal point of the spurs attack, and everything good that they did typically went through him. But a significant drop in form in the second half of the season was detrimental to his Euro hopes.

Gareth Southgate made controversial midfield picks for his final squad, choosing to include the inexperienced duo of Kobbie Mainoo and Adam Wharton. Both are no doubt extremely talented players with bright futures ahead of them in the national team, but it is certainly a risk to take the two teenagers, and in my opinion it would have been a more sensible choice to pick the more experienced and more proven James Maddison over one of them.

Ciro Immobile - Lazio - Striker - 34

Moving away from the home nation’s squad, Immobile has been one of the best strikers in Europe since 2016 when he moved to Lazio. In his eight seasons there, he has scored 20 or more league goals in five of them, with his best return coming in the 2019/20 season, where he netted 36 times (!).

However, this season he has slowed down significantly. Scoring just seven league goals, and 11 in all competitions, it seems father time is finally catching up to him. So his exclusion from the squad seems reasonable right? Well, Italy have an experience issue with their striking options, with Gianluca Scamacca, Giacomo Raspadori and Mateo Retegui all aged 25 or under, and lacking in crucial big tournament experience. Immobile would have been a useful option either to start the group games, or come off the bench in the knockout stages to provide that killer instinct and big game experience. However, it looks like we have the last of the Lazio ace in international tournament football.

Michael Olise - Crystal Palace - RW/CAM - 22

For a player who suffered 2 serious injuries and played half of Crystal Palace’s league games, 16 goal contributions in 19 premier league games is an obscenely good return. When Olise returned to the side following both injuries, it was as if he never left. He didn’t miss a beat, and he propelled Crystal Palace into the top half of the league with his slick combinations with Ebere Eze and Jean-Philippe Mateta. His silky footwork and ridiculous skill make him the perfect candidate to provide an alternative route of attack for the French team when plan A just isn’t clicking.

However, the issue with being a French national is the sheer depth of quality players that Didier Deschamps has to pick from. A look at the star-studded midfield and attacking options for France tells you all you need to know, and every player in there has fully earned their selection. Crystal Palace in particular will be gutted, as with it looking increasingly likely he will leave to play for a club in a European competition, an opportunity for him to shine on the big stage could have added another £10 million to his transfer value.

Joshua Zirkzee - Bologna - ST - 23

This may seem like a strange one. Afterall, Zirkzee is yet to be capped for the Netherlands, and is yet to make a break-through in a move to a big club. However, playing in the overachieving Bologna squad that qualified for the Champions League for the first time since 1965, Zirkzee became a crucial cog for them, providing 19 goal contributions in a stellar season.

This one may simply be a case of him not having enough experience to break into the national set-up, and perhaps Ronald Koeman would like to see one more season of a similar level before beginning to include him. But the in-form striker would have provided an interesting alternative to the tall, bulky figures of Wout Weghorst and Brian Brobbey up front, and would have been a good option off the bench to inject some pace into the front line.

Jack Grealish - Manchester City - LW - 28

We all know what Jack Grealish can do. England’s game changer at Euro 2020, his quick feet and endless pursuit to take on his man can change the game in moments. The “hundred million pound man" seemed to be worth every penny at the time, and was a natural shoe-in on the left side for England. However, things took a downturn for him this season.

Playing just 20 Premier League games for Pep Guardiola’s winning machine, and contributing only six goals and assists, he frequently found himself on the bench with Jeremy Doku the preferred winger on the left flank. The lack of form and significant game were likely the main factors behind his surprise exclusion by Gareth Southgate. However, having rarely, if ever played badly for England, and always a man for the big moments, I would still have preferred to see him selected, as he provides the X-factor the England find themselves needing more often than not in tournament football.

Pedro Porro - Tottenham Hotspur - RB/RWB - 24

This exclusion had me very confused. Pedro Porro has been consistently outstanding for Tottenham this season, in a year where many of their players ran out of steam, particularly in the closing stages of the season. In all competitions, 11 goal contributions from a wing-back is nothing to be scoffed at, and his speed and direct play were key tactical strengths when spurs went forward..

However, Spain coach Luis De La Fuente clearly sees defensive experience as the best chance of winning the Euros, picking Champions League final goal scorer Dani Carvajal and 38 year old Jesus Navas as his right back options. No doubt Porro has many major tournaments lying ahead of him, but I can’t help but feel he has earned the right to at least be on the plane to challenge the two more established options.

Iago Aspas - Celta Vigo - ST - 36

Aspas seems to have been around forever. The Celta Vigo legend enjoyed yet another prolific season in La Liga, providing 19 goal contributions in 35 games, and he once again put himself in the reckoning for a Euro 2024 squad place. Comfortable playing at right-wing as well as center-forward, he would provide excellent squad depth, and despite a relative lack of experience at international level, his decades at club level would more than make up that.

However, it seems that age is the sole reason he will not be involved this summer, as De La Fuente has picked a youthful selection of forwards for the tournament, including teenage sensation Lamine Yamal, Nico Williams and Ferran Torres. The emerging quality of these players, combined with other experienced frontmen Alvaro Morata and Joselu, consequently squeezed Aspas out of contention. But I still maintain that had Aspas been selected, he would have played an important role in Spain's tournament.

Christopher Nkunku - Chelsea - CAM - 26

Nkunku did not have the best start to life at Chelsea. After good pre-season form, he picked up a serious injury in the Blue’s tour of America, and he just couldn’t catch a break after that, picking up hip and hamstring injuries later in the season that would force him to miss a combined 39 games. So the answer as to why he has not been selected seems fairly clear.

However, when he did play, Nkunku was always a bright spark, frequently chipping in with goals when he was fit, and showing glimpses of what could've been in a turbulent season for him and his club. After playing at a world-class level for almost 5 years now, it was a frustrating season for the 26 year old, and he will not necessarily feel hard-done by at his exclusion. But while France may have one of the best squads in the world at the moment, Nkunku always has to be in the discussion for a place, because even when he isn’t fit and playing, everybody knows what he is capable of, and at some point in this tournament, France may just miss his quality.

Rafa Silva - Benfica - RW/CF/LW - 31

Portugal has a habit of creating global superstars. Think of Ronaldo, Figo, Ricardo Carvalho and, going further back, Eusebio. But they are also a nation that produces so many good players who don’t get the recognition they deserve. Rafa Silva fits perfectly into this category. 37 goal involvements in a season is enough for almost any player to grab the attention of the media, international coaches and the wider world. However, Portugal have one of the most stacked attacking lineups you will ever see, containing the likes of Rafael Leao, Joao Felix, Bernardo Silva, and of course the effervescent Cristiano Ronaldo.

Breaking into a lineup like that takes something special. Had Silva had a season like the one just gone in one of the top 5 leagues, he would be a guarantee for the squad. But the fact he achieved these remarkable statistics in a so-called “easier" league, coach Roberto Martinez looked to other options proven at the highest level. I still believe Silva has done everything possible to get into the squad, but it may take him stepping out of portuguese football to be able to take part on footballs grandest stage.

Benji Kosartiyer
Journalist
Harry Pascoe

Football Writer

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