Top 10 Premier League players snubbed for the World Cup
The World Cup is very much around the corner. Some nations are still deliberating over which players merit selection. Others, such as England, France and Spain, have already locked in their 23-man squads.
Every footballer dreams of representing their country in the World Cup. For national team coaches, however, sentimentality isn't an option. They must choose on quality alone. It means many high-profile stars will be left bitterly disappointed.
Here are the top ten Premier League players who will miss the 2018 World Cup.
Arsenal deemed Olivier Giroud surplus to requirements in order to offer Alexandre Lacazette more opportunities. Four months later, the reverse happened with France.
Lacazette was deadly in Ligue 1 before joining the Gunners last summer. The striker's form in England, though, hasn't passed the consistency test. He scored only 14 Premier League goals during 31 appearances. France coach Didier Deschamps wasn't impressed.
After earning 110 caps and playing a prominent role in success, Cesc Fabregas hasn't donned the Spanish jersey since the 2016 European Championships. The Chelsea midfielder didn't do enough this season to feature in Julen Lopetegui's plans.
Fabregas will be 35 when the next World Cup comes around. His international career looks over.
On arriving from Real Madrid last summer, Alvaro Morata was expected to hit the ground running at Chelsea. However, the 25-year-old struggled for form. He eventually lost his first-team place to Giroud.
Despite scoring six goals during Spain's World Cup qualification campaign, Morata's club performance didn't warrant selection for Russia.
Juan Mata has had a good season at Manchester United. In 41 appearances, the Spaniard scored three times and assisted seven.
Yet, Spain's array of midfield talent, including David Silva, Andres Iniesta and Isco, means Mata will miss the World Cup.
Marcos Alonso is another Chelsea player snubbed by Lopetegui, despite making the Premier League Team of the Year on the last two occasions. The left-back started 46 games for the Blues this season, scoring eight goals.
The Spain boss opted for Jordi Alba and Nacho Monreal, leaving Alonso, somewhat surprisingly, out in the cold.
Ander Herrera has proven one of Man United's best central midfielders during the last two seasons. The 28-year-old, however, couldn't convince Lopetegui to select him ahead of either Thiago, Sergio Busquets, Koke or Saul Niguez.
Stamford Bridge seems cursed. Pedro is another Chelsea player who won't feature in Russia. There were obvious reasons for the Spanish winger's omission. He scored only seven goals in 48 games this season. Assisting a meagre four times was also a factor.
Anthony Martial misses out on the World Cup mainly due to lacking minutes at Man United. The 22-year-old made only 26 appearances this campaign. Alexis Sanchez's arrival in January meant the Frenchman's time on the bench increased.
Some blame Jose Mourinho for Martial's exclusion from France's squad. Competing against talents such as Antoine Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe, Thomas Lemar and Ousmane Dembele didn't help, either.
Even though he played 47 matches for Arsenal this season, Hector Bellerin failed to force his way into the Spanish squad. Dani Carvajal and Alvaro Odriozola took the two right-back berths.
Bellerin's form for the Gunners has dropped in recent times. After playing no part in Spain's World Cup qualifying campaign, his chances of performing at the main event always looked unlikely.
It's fitting to end with a Chelsea player. Tiemoue Bakayoko was snubbed by Deschamps in favour of N'Golo Kante, Blaise Matudi, Steven Nzonzi and Corentin Tolisso.
Chelsea signed Bakayoko last summer to replace Nemanja Matic. It was hoped the Frenchman would form a formidable midfield partnership with Kante. The 23-year-old, however, has failed to live up to his £40 million price tag.