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World Cup 2018: Best XI players missing the World Cup

With Leroy Sane missing the cut for Germany’s World Cup squad on Monday, we pick the best XI of players who will not be on the plane to Russia.

The Manchester City midfielder was a shock omission when the final 23-man squads were announced on June 4, and there are some other big names who were not included, although they were fit and available to play for their respective countries.

Here, we take a look at 11 players who make up an strong XI, but will not being featuring at the World Cup.

Goalkeeper – Joe Hart (England)

Hart had a torrid campaign on loan at West Ham, dropping in and out of the side throughout the season. He played just eight games in all competitions in 2018, leaving Gareth Southgate with no choice but to exclude the goalkeeper from his England squad.

Speaking about his omission, Hart said on Instagram: “Not going to lie, I’m gutted. After two years of trying to make the most of a really tough situation, this is hard to take. I’m proud to have put in the graft and play every minute to qualify with the team and have a really important input in that outcome. I know what I bring to the team, but it is what it is.”

Defender – Marcos Alonso (Spain)

In a so-so season for Chelsea, Alonso was one of the stand-out performers, scoring seven Premier League goals alongside his defensive duties – the most by a defender in the league. His omission from the Spain squad came as somewhat of a surprise, although he only made his international debut in March 2018, with the named defenders in the 23-man squad having much more experience.

Defender – David Luiz (Brazil)

A player who has plenty of international pedigree, Luiz has been capped over 50 times for Brazil, but will not play for his country in Russia after missing the last three months of the season for Chelsea. It is not the first time he has been left out by Brazil for a major tournament though, also missing the Copa America Centenario in 2016.

Defender – Aymeric Laporte (France)

Laporte is yet to make a senior appearance for France, so his omission is not up there with the biggest surprises. He was included in the squad for World Cup qualifiers in September 2017, but did not make it onto the field, and there was talk beforehand that he could switch his senior allegiance to Spain. He made nine Premier League appearances for Manchester City after his January move from Athletic Bilbao, and will be hoping for a regular spot next season to help push for a place in Didier Deschamps’ side.

Midfield – Fabinho (Brazil)

Liverpool fans will need to wait a few more months before they catch their new signing Fabinho in action after he was left out of Brazil’s squad. The midfielder has four senior caps to his name and was named in the last two Copa America teams, although did not feature at either tournament. He is yet to be called up by current Brazil manager Tite, despite being ever-present for Monaco over the last few seasons and producing some of the best goal returns of his career.

Midfield – Jack Wilshere (England)

Arguably the biggest omission from the England squad, Wilshere’s return to form for Arsenal in the 2017/18 season was not enough to secure him a spot in Southgate’s World Cup side. The midfielder had been selected for friendlies earlier this year, but failed to make the final cut after much speculation over whether he should be included.

Following the announcement of the final 23-man England squad, Wilshere tweeted: “It goes without saying that I’m naturally incredibly disappointed to have been left out of the England squad for the World Cup. I’ve felt fit, sharp and strong all season and believe I should be in the squad! And given the chance I could have made a real impact.”

Midfield – Radja Nainggolan (Belgium)

It was a shock for many when Nainggolan failed to make Belgium’s 28-man provisional squad, although he has a chequered relationship with manager Roberto Martinez. After he was not selected for qualifiers in September 2017, the midfielder announced his international retirement, only to be called-up by Martinez for friendly fixtures in November. However, he pulled out due to injury and has not made an appearance since. After another snub for the World Cup, he once again retired, having won 30 caps for his country.

Midfield – Leroy Sane (Germany)

The PFA Young Player of the Year hit 14 goals and provided 19 assists in all competitions for Manchester City last season as they stormed to the Premier League title with a record 100 points and he was a shock omission when Germany announced their final squad on June 4.

Asked about Sane’s omission, Low said: “It was a very tight decision between him and Julian Brandt (of Bayer Leverkusen) which went in favour of Brandt. There are better days in the life of a national team coach, when you have to send four amazing players, who deserve to be at the World Cup, home.”

Forward – Anthony Martial (France)

Currently on standby for France, Martial has suffered for an up and down season with Manchester United, where he started 18 of the 38 Premier League games. He was included in the Euro 2016 squad – playing in three games – but still just 22 years old, this is certainly not the beginning of the end for his international career and still has many years ahead to make a World Cup squad.

Forward – Mauro Icardi (Argentina)

Even after scoring 29 Serie A goals in 34 games for Inter in the 2017/18 season, Icardi was not included in Argentina’s 23-man squad, showing the incredible attacking depth they have. Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero, Paulo Dybala and Gonzalo Higuain are the men chosen up front, and while you cannot argue with the quality chosen over him, his wife Wanda gave it a go.

She told Argentinian radio station Perros de la Calle: “Maybe now isn’t the time, but he’s calmly waiting for his chance to play. These are things with no explanation, what’s happening to Mauro is an injustice – he deserves to be there. He has everything to be in the national team, in terms of age and performance.”

Forward – Alvaro Morata (Spain)

It has been a frustrating season for Morata since his move to Chelsea and has failed to find his feet, netting just 11 Premier League goals in 31 games. However, he has a good history of scoring for Spain, having netted 12 goals in 17 appearances in 2016 and 2017, including three goals at the Euros. But this has not guaranteed him a place in Russia, with the likes of former Real Madrid team-mates Isco and Marco Asensio plus ex-Chelsea striker Diego Costa preferred instead.