As Europe’s football powerhouses name their final 23-man squads for Euro 2016, TheHardTackle looks at five players who will miss the opportunity to represent their country in this summer’s tournament in France.
It appears reputation doesn’t count for much in the world of international football, with some first team players from top clubs like Manchester United, Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid among those ignored by their national managers. They may command millions in transfer fees and have legendary reputations, but even without any injury issues, these players find themselves been snubbed for Europe’s biggest international tournament.
1. Diego Costa
Spain’s bad boy has been snubbed by manager Vicente del Bosque despite scoring 16 goals and registering 7 assists with Chelsea this season. Although Diego Costa suffered an injury at the end of the season and Del Bosque claimed he didn’t want fitness uncertainties about his players, the Chelsea striker would have been on a plane to France had his national manager considered him important to his plans.
The Brazil-born forward had been a key member of the Spanish squad in the 2014 World Cup, where they crashed out in the group stages. Two years later, Costa will not play any part in helping his adopted nation defend their European Championship. The former Atletico Madrid striker has just one international goal since the last World Cup, and his temperament and disciplinary issues have made it far too easy for Del Bosque to leave him out of the team.
2. Juan Mata
One decision that probably wasn’t easy for Spain manager Vicente del Bosque was leaving out Manchester United midfielder Juan Mata. The 28-year-old playmaker is widely considered as one of the top players in Europe in the number 10 position, but Del Bosque has gone for lesser known La Liga players like Mikel San Jose (Athletic Bilbao) and Bruno Soriano (Villarreal) instead.
The rise of younger players like Koke and Thiago Alcantara has also not helped Mata’s case, and the £37.1 million Manchester United signing will now have to support his country from the sidelines this summer.
3. Karim Benzema
The most controversial omission for the Euros has to be that of France and Real Madrid forward Karim Benzema. The 28-year-old has been fighting criminal charges for allegedly helping to blackmail his national teammate Mathieu Valbuena, but that did not rule him out of Europe’s premier international tournament.
France national coach Didier Deschamps dropped him, claiming that it was a decision taken to maintain team harmony and spirit. Benzema scored 29 goals for Real Madrid this past season as they finished second in La Liga and won the Champions League. He would have been the perfect attacking pivot for Les Blues and it remains to be seen how they cope without him.
4. Kevin Trapp
The 25-year-old German keeper was signed by Paris Saint-Germain last summer from Eintracht Frankfurt and immediately ousted veteran Italian keeper Salvatore Sirigu. Trapp has been very impressive for the Parisians as they romped to a domestic treble and made it to the Champions League quarter-finals.
However, with Manuel Neuer as the undisputed number one and the talented duo of Marc-Andre Ter Stegen (Barcelona) and Bernd Leno (Bayer Leverkusen) above him in the pecking order, the talented Trapp finds himself out of luck when it comes to Die Mannschaft.
5. Andrea Pirlo
In a fair warning to ageing footballers who cross the ocean to play in the United States for one last big payday, the legendary Andrea Pirlo has been left out of the Italian squad for Euro 2016. Even though the Azzurri lost one of their most talented midfielders in Marco Veratti to injury, their old warhorse will not be part of the squad travelling to France this summer.
Soon-to-be Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has reportedly made it clear that his decision was because he considers the MLS to be a step down from top-tier league football. The 36-year-old Pirlo was the talisman of Conte’s hugely successful Juventus team, and had even played in a UEFA Champions League final as recently as 2015. But his move to America and New York City FC this past season has seemingly cost him his last chance to represent his national side in a major tournament.