Stars not selected for Euro 2020
The deadline for National Team Head Coaches to submit their Euro 2020 squads was 1 June 2021, 23:59.
This caused headlines with some big names left out of squads of multiple nations for various reasons.
So, here is an XI of the best players who will not be at Euro 2020, despite the fact their international teammates will be.
Goalkeeper: Marc-André ter Stegen- Germany
He may not boast much of an international career but Marc-André ter Stegen is, undoubtedly, one of the best goalkeepers in the world.
Since joining Barcelona from Borussia Mönchengladbach in 2014, ter Stegen has made 278 appearances for the Catalan giants, winning 13 major honours.
This includes the UEFA Champions League in 2015 and a fifth Copa del Rey earlier this year.
However, the 29-year-old has only won 25 caps for Germany since making his debut in May 2012.
Ter Stegen’s biggest achievement with Die Mannschaft came in 2017 when they won the Confederations Cup with him starting four of the five games, including the semi-final and final.
Overall, he’s played in just 11 competitive internationals.
At the end of the club season, ter Stegen confirmed he would miss Euro 2020 due to the fact he had to undergo a procedure on his knee.
This wasn’t too much of a blow for Joachim Löw’s side as Manuel Neuer will remain as first-choice with Bernd Leno and Kevin Trapp as his understudies.
Right-back: Aaron Wan-Bissaka – England
Gareth Southgate may have chosen four right-backs in his Euro 2020 squad but a fifth may feel unfortunate to have been excluded.
Trent Alexander-Arnold, Reece James, Kieran Trippier and Kyle Walker were all included in the 26-man squad; it remains to be seen who’ll get the nod.
Even beyond them, England are stacked for quality right-backs.
In June 2019, Aaron Wan-Bissaka joined Manchester United for £45 million and has since made 100 appearances for the Red Devils.
In the last two seasons, he’s missed just 22 of Man United’s fixtures, playing 54 of 61 in 2020/21.
Despite this, he’s yet to make his senior debut for the Three Lions.
Wan-Bissaka has won three caps for England’s U21s, starting the 2-1 defeat to France at U21 Euros in which he scored a 94th-minute own goal.
Now 23, he can only play international football at senior level.
But, England is not his only option.
Wan-Bissaka is also eligible to play for the Democratic Republic of the Congo through his heritage.
They’re ranked 61 in the world but failed to qualify for the upcoming African Cup of Nations.
He may have a big decision to make as it’s certainly unusual for a first-choice Manchester United player not to be playing international football.
Centre-back: Sergio Ramos – Spain
A fair few eyebrows were raised on 24 May when Luis Enrique named his Spain squad for Euro 2020.
There were some notable admissions, none more so than Sergio Ramos.
El Capitán has won 180 caps for his national side, since his debut in 2005, only missing five of 45 international fixtures since 2016.
Ramos seemed determined to claim the all-time international appearances record for a man.
He’s currently joint-third with Oman’s Ahmed Mubarak, one behind Bader Al-Mutawa of Kuwait and four adrift of the record holder, Ahmed Hassan of Egypt.
Had he been selected, he could’ve smashed that record during the European Championships.
This makes Ramos’ exclusion by La Roja even more puzzling.
Their centre-back options without him have been bolstered by Aymeric Laporte switching allegiance from France.
The Manchester City man is likely to start alongside one of Diego Llorente, Pau Torres or his now-former club colleague Eric García.
But the strength of the other options isn’t the reason Ramos has been excluded.
The Real Madrid skipper has struggled for fitness since picking up an injury in March’s World Cup Qualifier against Kosovo.
Overall, he’s only made two club appearances sine 9 January.
Even so, given that Enrique only picked 24 players in a 26-man squad, it’s baffling that he’s left behind such a talismanic figure.
Centre-back: Virgil van Dijk – Netherlands
Liverpool’s underwhelming title defence was largely attributed to Virgil van Dijk’s ruptured cruciate ligament injury that saw him make just eight appearances, all at the start of 2020/21.
However, arguably, he could be an even bigger miss for his national team.
Dutch football was at it’s lowest ebb in 2016 & 2018 when they failed to qualify for back-to-back major tournaments for the first time since 1986.
That’s despite the fact Holland reached the World Cup Final in 2010 and the semi-finals at Brazil 2014.
But then, they enjoyed a renaissance in 2018/19, under Ronald Koeman, as they reached the UEFA Nations League Final.
Virgil van Dijk was pivotal in this, not only in his own box but in the opposition’s too, scoring in both group stage matches against Germany, a 3-0 home win and a 2-2 draw.
Holland beat England in the semi-final in Guimarães before losing to Portugal in the showpiece final.
Then, van Dijk was key again during Euro 2020 qualifying as the Dutch eased through, thereby ending their exile from the international scene.
However, their captain will not be apart of Frank de Boer’s squad after ruling himself out of contention just before the squad was announced.
About a year ago, it could be argued that Matthijs de Ligt and van Dijk was the best centre-back pairing in world international football but that will not be on show at this summer’s European Championship.
This means, amazingly, van Dijk still hasn’t played at a major international tournament as he made his debut in 2015, shortly after moving from Celtic to Southampton.
Hopefully for his sake, this’ll change at Qatar 2022.
Left-back: Ferland Mendy – France
The first of two French players on this list but, in truth, this XI of players not selected could pretty much be made up of solely Frenchman.
Didier Deschamps’s side are reigning world champions and will be looking to complete the double having gone close in Euro 2016, losing in the final which was, of course, in Paris.
The Euros is the first of two opportunities Les Bleus have to win yet more silverware in 2021 with the UEFA Nations League Finals coming up in Italy in October.
Many would argue that France are favourites to win both of those competitions and that’s largely due to the outrageous depth they boast.
Given that this segment is about Ferland Mendy, let’s specifically look at full-backs.
Mendy himself is 25-years-old and moved from Olympique Lyonnais to Real Madrid in summer 2019 for a fee that could rise to €53 million.
He won La Liga and the Supercopa de España in his first season but ended 2020/21 empty-handed.
Nevertheless, he’s very much first-choice in the Spanish capital, ahead of 33-year-old Marcelo, making 32 appearances in his first season and 38 during this campaign.
At international level, Mendy has won seven caps, making his debut in a friendly against Uruguay in November 2018.
More recently, he played in three of the UEFA Nations League games, starting both encounters with Croatia.
However, he hasn’t played for anyone since El Clásico, with Real won 2-1, on 10 April due to a calf injury which has ruled him out of the Euros.
Without him, the world’s most expensive defender Lucas Hernandez and Everton’s Lucas Digne are France’s left-back options.
Those aren’t bad alternatives but Mendy would’ve been in the squad, if fit, and may well be a miss.
Central-midfielder: Tanguy Ndombele – France
Another Frenchman who’ll be enjoying Euro 2020 from their sofa is Tottenham’s Tanguy Ndombele.
If France were allowed to enter a B Team into qualifying, they’d probably also be one of the front runners for this competition.
If that was the case, Ndombele might have more than the seven international caps, the same number as the aforementioned Mendy.
He made his international debut in a friendly draw with Iceland in October 2018 but has played in just two competitive matches since, both qualifiers, against Andorra in June 2019 and in Kazakhstan in March of this year.
At club level, again like Mendy, Ndombele is a former Olympique Lyonnais player before moving to Tottenham Hotspur in 2019 for, up to, €72 million.
Only 27 players in the history of football have moved for more than this.
For one reason or another, he hasn’t shone at Spurs, making just 75 appearances, out of a possible 110, in two seasons.
Thus, he’s been left out of the squad with club teammate Moussa Sissoko chosen ahead of him.
This certainly raised a few eyebrows’ belonging to Spurs fans.
Central-midfielder: Ivan Rakitić – Croatia
Of course, in 2018 Croatia really put themselves on the international football map.
Wins over Argentina, Nigeria, Iceland, Denmark, Russia and England saw the Blazers reach a first ever World Cup Final before they were eventually beaten 4-2 by France at the Luzhniki.
Even just three years later, the current Croatian side looks very different.
Straight after the tournament, goalkeeper Danijel Subašić and centre-forward Mario Mandžukić retired from international football.
Since, key midfielder Ivan Rakitić has followed suit.
Born in Rheinfelden (Switzerland) Rakitić won 106 caps for Croatia, making his debut in a Euro 2008 Qualification victory over Estonia.
His last appearance for the national team was a 1-1 draw in Wales towards the end of Euro 2020 Qualifying.
His plan was to retire from international football after Euro 2020 but, with the tournament having been postponed a year, he called time on his international career before then.
Rakitić has won 15 major club honours in his career, 13 of which came with Barcelona, most notably the UEFA Champions League in 2015, scoring in the final against Juventus.
Despite this, Croatia sill boast a talented group of midfielders, led by Luka Modrić who’s likely to line-up alongside Mateo Kovačić and Marcelo Brozović.
Attacking-midfielder: Alexis Saelemaekers – Belgium
A more left-field choice but it was a real surprise that Alexis Saelemaekers was left out of the Belgium squad by Roberto Martínez.
Saelemaekers is a product of the R.S.C. Anderlecht academy, joining them aged 13, before leaving for A.C. Milan in 2020, initially on loan.
Since joining I Rossoneri, he’s been one of the first names on Stefano Pioli’s team sheet.
This season, he scored three goals and provided seven assists in 2,568 minutes on the field.
Whilst his output isn’t that outstanding, the fact he made 40 appearances in all competitions shows he can be relied upon by his manager.
At international level, Saelemaekers has won just one senior cap, coming in a 1-1 friendly draw with Côte d’Ivoire back in October.
Since, the closest to any action he’s got came in March when he was an unused substitute for the two World Cup Qualifiers against Czech Republic and Belarus.
The reasons why Saelemaekers won’t be with the Red Devils at Euro 2020 is twofold.
First, it’s the position he plays.
For A.C. Milan, he plays, usually, wide-right in a 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1.
Belgium on the other hand deploy a 3-4-3 or 3-4-2-1 and he doesn’t really fit into either a wing-back or inside-forward position.
The other issue for Saelemaekers is the competition he faces.
Despite his decent season in Italy, he’s not been outstanding enough to deserve a spot ahead of Eden Hazard, Dries Mertens or Jérémy Doku.
Even without the international recognition, Saelemaekers is a player to keep an eye on for Milan next season.
Winger: Mason Greenwood – England
A week before the European Championship squad deadline, Gareth Southgate named a 33-man provisional squad with seven players cut on 1 June.
Mason Greenwood is, probably, the most talented of that group of seven.
Straight off the bat, it’s worth noting that Greenwood wasn’t excluded from the squad.
He withdrew so he could spend the summer undergoing treatment on an ‘underlying injury’.
Without this, Southgate would surely have selected this uber-talented teenager.
Greenwood burst onto the scene at Manchester United in 2019/20, scoring 17 goals and providing four assists.
This season was more challenging but a strong finish saw him end up with 12 goals and six assists.
However, his talents have been limited to the club scene thus far.
Greenwood’s sole senior England cap came at Laugardalsvöllur in a 1-0 UEFA Nations League victory over Iceland, coming on for the final 12 minutes.
However, straight after, Greenwood and Phil Foden were sent home for breaking coronavirus quarantine guidelines.
Nevertheless, Greenwood will surely be a key figure for the Three Lions in the not too distant future.
Winger: Ansu Fati – Spain
He may only be 18, but Ansu Fati would be a star in this hypothetical team.
Ansu made his debut for Barcelona against Real Betis in August 2019 and then scored on his first two starts for the Catalan giants, away to Osasuna and then at home to Valencia.
In 2019/20 in total, he scored eight goals despite only playing 1,375 minutes.
He then announced himself on the international scene on his full-debut back in September in the UEFA Nations League.
Ansu scored the third goal in a 4-0 drubbing of Ukraine at Estadio Alfredo Di Stéfano.
However, the rest of 2020/21 didn’t go as planned.
He made just ten appearances for Barcelona this season due to a Mensical Laceration injury suffered against Betis in November.
He hasn’t played since and has undergone at least two surgeries.
If the European Championships had taken place in June & July 2020, as planned, Ansu Fati would’ve been a key play for Spain and will surely be so for many tournaments to come.
Centre-forward: Zlatan Ibrahimović – Sweden
Zlatan Ibrahimović’s recent relationship with international football has been eventful to say the least.
After Sweden were eliminated at the Euro 2016 group stages, Ibrahimović announced his retirement from international football having won 116 caps, scoring 62 goals.
Of those goals, he netted at three different major tournaments: Euro 2004, Euro 2008 and Euro 2012.
However, despite the fact his nation made it to World Cup 2018, Ibrahimović only announced he would come out of international retirement at the start of 2021, in time for the Euros.
He started both of March’s World Cup Qualifiers, providing an assist in both wins over Georgia and Kosovo.
But, things haven’t gone to plan for Zlatan.
Shortly after, whilst playing for A.C. Milan, he suffered a succession of injuries and it was one to his knee, sustained against Torino, that has ruled him out of this tournament.
Given that he’ll be 41 when Qatar 2022 comes around, Zlatan may have made his final appearance at a major tournament after all.
Honourable mentions: More quality players not chosen for Euro 2020
Goalkeeper: Jasper Cillessen- Netherlands (Covid-19).
Goalkeeper: Kepa Arrizabalaga- Spain (Not selected).
Right-back: Dani Carvajal- Spain (Not selected).
Centre-back: Dayot Upamecano- France (Not selected).
Left-back: Sergio Reguilón- Spain (Not selected).
Central-midfielder: Eduardo Camavinga (Not selected).
Attacking-midfielder: Dominik Szoboszlai (Injured).
Attacking midfielder: Marco Asensio- Spain (Not selected).
Right-winger: Pedro Neto- Portugal (Not selected).
Winger: Steven Bergwijn: Netherlands (Not selected).
Centre-forward: Krzysztof Piątek- Poland (Injured).
Centre-forward: Moise Kean- Italy (Not selected).
Centre-forward: Cenk Tosun- Turkey (Injured).
Centre-forward: Divock Origi- Belgium (Not selected).
This article was edited by Benjamin Newman.