Eight stars out to prove a point after international break snub
Alexander-Arnold can show Southgate what he’s missing, Jesus aims to outshine Brazil rival Richarlison and wonderkid Fati needs to start… eight players with a point to prove after international snubs
- A number of high-profile players didn’t feature during the international break
- Manchester United duo Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford were not called up
- Meanwhile, Richarlison won the battle for Brazil’s No 9 shirt and he thrived
- But it meant Arsenal’s in-form striker Gabriel Jesus had to be left in north London
- Who else was snubbed? Here are the players out to prove a point this weekend
- Click here for all the latest World Cup 2022 news and updates
League football is back on the menu this weekend following the conclusion of the final international break before the World Cup in Qatar.
National team managers will have used the week to get a last look at their squads before they pick who will be joining them on that plane in two months’ time.
However, with no time left to impress on the international stage, many players who were snubbed in the international break will be left sweating on their spots and can now only use domestic football to stake their claim at this very late stage.
But who are the players who have a point to prove when club football returns all of Europe this weekend? Sportsmail has a look at eight noteworthy stars who were given the cold shoulder.
International managers, including England’s Gareth Southgate, were forced to make a number of high-profile omissions for the final international break before the World Cup in Qatar
Arguably one of the most shocking omissions from the international break was Gabriel Jesus.
The Arsenal forward is a man re-born at the Emirates since his move from Manchester City in the summer and has been pivotal to the Gunners’ rise to the top of the table – and staying there.
However, it wasn’t enough to earn him a call-up to the Brazilian national team with Tottenham’s £60million signing Richarlison preferred.
Gabriel Jesus was snubbed from the Brazil squad despite his brilliant form for Arsenal
Tottenham’s Richarlison was preferred up top for Brazil in the most recent international break
Richarlison proved he deserved the No 9 shirt, grabbing three goals and an assist across two friendlies against Ghana and Tunisia to leave manager Tite vindicated at his selection.
However, with the north London derby this weekend, both Gabriel Jesus and Richarlison will go head to head and give Tite food for thought over who should be in his final squad for the World Cup in November.
Having endured a tough debut season at Old Trafford following his big-money move from Borussia Dortmund last summer, it wasn’t the greatest shock to see Jadon Sancho cast aside from the most recent England squad.
However, unlike last season which saw Ole Gunnar Solskjaer sacked and Ralf Rangnick fail to ignite a struggling United side, Sancho is finally starting to find his feet under Erik ten Hag.
Man United’s in-form winger Jadon Sancho was a high-profile omission from the England side
In six Premier League games, Sancho has netted twice while also scoring once more in the Europa League – a vast improvement on last season’s form.
He faces a tough battle to replace the likes of Phil Foden, Bukayo Saka and Raheem Sterling on the plane but Jarrod Bowen – who got called up by Southgate for Nations League games against Italy and Germany but didn’t feature – could now be looking over his shoulder if Sancho continues to light it up for the Red Devils.
Unlike most others on this list, Alexander-Arnold was actually called up to the national team but it became pretty clear, pretty quickly that he wouldn’t be featuring on the pitch.
Southgate refused to give the Liverpool star a run-out ahead of Reece James despite fans being desperate to see the highly-creative right back do his thing.
While he’s most likely to be on the plane for Qatar, it remains to be seen if he actually features ahead of the likes of James, Kieran Trippier and Kyle Walker – who all seem to be favoured more by the England boss.
Trent Alexander-Arnold was called up by Southgate but wasn’t used in either game
But with two months until the tournament starts, Alexander-Arnold can start to prove that he was wrong to be left out when Liverpool take on Brighton this Saturday.
Liverpool haven’t enjoyed the best of starts to the Premier League season but there’s no time like the present to turn your club’s form around while inflating your own stock at the same time.
Having overcome a number of injuries, Ansu Fati is finally starting to get minutes under his belt.
While he’s not starting every game for Barcelona, the talented 19-year-old is still getting some game-time with Xavi keen not to rush him back too quickly and risk aggravating another injury.
Despite being one of the biggest talents in world football, Fati didn’t get the nod for Spain’s recent Nations League clashes with Switzerland and Portugal and was instead left to watch from home.
Spain boss Luis Enrique revealed that the teenager needs regular minutes under his belt if he is to make the World Cup squad in November.
Ansu Fati needs to get regular minutes under his belt before Luis Enrique calls him up for Spain
Enrique said at the start of the international break: ‘He has been participating but at his club he has only started one game and that tells me something.
‘He continues to have a wonderful relationship with the goal, I hope he recovers his level and we see the best Ansu, but today I do not see him ready for the squad and that is why I have not brought him.’
He will have the chance to add to two goals and two assists in LaLiga when Barcelona face Mallorca on Saturday.
Another shock omission from the Spain squad last week was PSG star Sergio Ramos.
The World Cup winner and European champion has been a mainstay in the national side since making his debut in 2005.
And while he struggled with injuries during his debut campaign at PSG last season, Ramos has been ever-present in the Ligue 1 side, playing all 11 games and even grabbing himself a goal – a brilliant backheel, no less.
Sergio Ramos was ‘extremely disappointed’ to have been snubbed from the Spain squad
Reports claim the veteran defender was said to be ‘extremely disappointed’ with the Nations League snub but is hopeful of winning Enrique’s favour back in time for the World Cup.
Should he continue to build on the six clean sheets he already has this season, there’s no doubt that the 36-year-old will be in Qatar.
It is fair to say that Mats Hummels hasn’t had the easiest of rides on the international stage.
The Borussia Dortmund defender did end up lifting the World Cup trophy eight years ago in Brazil but now well into his thirties, you’d expect his time would be up with Die Mannschaft.
Having been exiled for a number of years under Joachim Low, Hummels has played his way back into contention under Hansi Flick but failed to make Germany’s squad for this round of Nations League games.
However, the door has been left ajar for the centre-back who has earned praise from the Germany boss.
‘Everyone still has a chance to jump on the World Cup train,’ he said. ‘I especially liked Mats Hummels. He is in very good form and looks absolutely fit.’
Mats Hummels could also force his way back into Germany’s squad for the World Cup
Marcus Rashford took to social media after the England squad was announced for the final international break to explain his absence.
The Manchester United striker put his omission by Southgate down to an ‘untimely injury’ and reiterated his desire to represent the Three Lions.
It isn’t clear whether Rashford would’ve been selected Rashford without injury, even though he’s upped his game under Ten Hag – just like Sancho.
Marcus Rashford missed the final international break due to an ‘untimely injury’
His position in the World Cup squad is up in the air but there’s no better time than this weekend to cement a place in Southgate’s final selection.
Rashford is set to be fit for the Manchester derby on Sunday and a string of solid performances until the World Cup will make him hard to ignore come November.
Ivan Toney received his first ever call up for England last week in what was a hugely proud moment for the Brentford striker.
While he didn’t get his chance to earn his first cap, the signal from Southgate that he could be Harry Kane’s back-up for the World Cup is promising with Tammy Abraham also another option.
Southgate hinted that they’ll be plenty more chances coming his way beyond the World Cup but Toney will be out to do everything he can for Brentford to make him hard to ignore.
The World Cup may have come too soon for a player yet to win his first cap but that won’t stop the Bees forward from buzzing at the prospect of getting another call-up.
Ivan Toney got his first ever England call-up but failed to feature in either of the two games
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