As the 2022 World Cup fast approaches, national team managers have been selecting their respective squads ahead of football’s greatest carnival.
With Manchester United being an elite level club in the best league in world football, it has become standard that most of the club’s players prepare to jet off and compete in the World Cup tournament every four years.
With that in mind, here is a look at which Reds players are on the pane to Qatar for the first ever winter World Cup, as well as the unfortunate ones who have missed out…
In what is a sad sight for fans, no goalkeeper at United has been selected to represent their country in the prestigious competition.
Martin Dubravka’s Slovakia failed to qualify, whilst loanee Dean Henderson did not make the cut as part of the goalkeeping trio that England have taken.
The biggest surprise is the absence of David De Gea from Spain’s squad. The 32-year-old stopper played every minute over in Russia at the 2018 World Cup, but current manager Luis Enrique has opted for Unai Simon and David Raya- both playing for midtable Spanish clubs- as well as Robert Sanchez of Brighton.
It is no secret that Enrique likes a younger squad, but given his superb form this season, it seems harsh not to include a top-quality keeper in De Gea who has massively improved with the ball at his feet, and everyone knows his quality when saving shots.
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Victor Lindelof’s Sweden failed to qualify, but fellow centre-backs Lisandro Martinez and Raphael Varane have been selected by the Argentinian and French coaches respectively. Varane has not featured for United since his withdrawal at Stamford Bridge on 22nd October, but Didier Deschamps has deemed the 29-year-old fit and able to be utilised.
Controversially, Harry Maguire has found himself selected as part of Gareth Southgate’s England squad. The Englishman has struggled for game time this season, but national team fans across the country knew that his inclusion seemed inevitable given Southgate’s favoured five-at-the-back formation, a system that Maguire has proved effective in over the last few years. Remember, the defender was an integral part of England’s 2018 run to the semi-finals in Russia, and also bagged himself a spot in the Team of the Tournament for Euro 2020.
Full-backs Tyrell Malacia (Netherlands) and Diogo Dalot (Portugal) will be excited to represent their countries in what will be their first ever World Cup. Malacia has impressed Louis van Gaal following his time in England so far, and it would have been difficult for Fernando Santos to leave Dalot out given his form and consistency so far in this campaign.
The more senior full-back of the squad, Luke Shaw, seemed an obvious selection for Southgate and England given the country’s lack of quality left-backs, with Chelsea’s Ben Chilwell no longer an option due to injury.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka has never been in the discussion for an England spot, despite a few injuries in the country’s right-back ranks of late.
On-loan Brazilian Alex Telles will also be heading to Qatar. The experienced left-back is currently plying his trade over in La Liga with Sevilla.
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Unfortunately for Scott McTominay, he will not to be heading to the World Cup after Scotland missed out on a spot in the 32-team tournament. It will be even more painful for Donny van de Beek, though, with the Dutchman simply not in Van Gaal’s plans at the moment as his country compete without him.
Bruno Fernandes (Portugal) and Christian Eriksen (Denmark) are set to play on the biggest stage as expected, and even Fred has swindled a spot in a Brazil side brimming with skill and talent. Despite his inconsistency at club level, Fred does play well for Brazil, with him and Casemiro forming a rather formidable partnership under the management of Tite.
On the subject of Casemiro, it is no surprise that the five-time Champions League winner has a spot in the starting side for Brazil this winter.
An extra dose of good luck goes out to young Hannibal Mejbri, currently on loan at Birmingham in the Championship, who will be sporting the Tunisia jersey with great pride at just 19-years-old; what a fantastic experience for him it will be!
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Cristiano Ronaldo, for the time being is still a Manchester United player. He can make history once more at the 2022 World Cup. Having been selected by the Portugal manager, the 38-year-old has a chance to score at his fifth World Cup and become the first player in football history to do so. The icon of the game scored his first World Cup goal in 2006, aged just 21, with an 80th minute penalty in a 2-0 group stage win over Iran in host country Germany. Ronaldo currently joins Pele (Brazil), Uwe Seeler and Miroslav Klose (both Germany) in scoring at four different World Cups.
Marcus Rashford will join up with the England squad following much improved form this season under Erik ten Hag, and will be hoping to pip his fellow countrymen to a starting spot on the left-wing in Southgate’s plans.
Antony was filmed reacting to his Brazil call up with those close to him this week. It will be his first World Cup. He has not featured for United since coming off at half-time against Sheriff Tiraspol at Old Trafford on 27th October, but Tite feels he is fit enough to take part.
Jadon Sancho and Anthony Martial have not done enough in the eyes of Southgate and Deschamps to play for their country, with Anthony Elanga also staying in Manchester due to his national team, Sweden, not qualifying.
The World Cup may have just come too soon for 18-year-old Alejandro Garnacho. The Argentine has featured in a couple of the senior training sessions with the first-team squad, but Lionel Scaloni has opted for more experienced forwards this time around. Although, he will definitely have Garnacho in the back of his mind for future games, you would think.
Finally, Uruguay manager Diego Alonso has opted to include Facundo Pellistri in his squad. The 20-year-old, despite being out of favour under Ten Hag, will be heading to his first ever World Cup. His agent has recently talked about a possible January move, so supporters will hope the winger can make a name for himself so United can coup a decent fee for him. That is if he is not in Ten Hag’s plans, of course.