As fans now tune their television sets to watch a lot of international football over the coming weeks, it’s worth remembering that plenty of great European players will also be sitting at home watching the action. Whether it was through injury, their nations not qualifying or simply being deemed not good enough, some of Europe’s finest players will be enviously watching on.
Below we pick an XI of those players. And, we have to admit, this team would do well in the competition:
Goalkeeper: Jan Oblak
The Slovenian shot-stopper often enters the discussion around the best goalkeepers in the world. Unfortunately for him, playing for Slovenia won’t give him much opportunity to play at major tournaments – Oblak was not yet called up to the national team when Slovenia qualified for the 2010 World Cup.
Right Back: Trent Alexander-Arnold
A terrible season for TAA was compounded by injury ruling him out of England’s Euro 2020 squad. His form has dipped considerably, it’s true. But people tend to forget that the Liverpool man is just 22-years-old. He has plenty of time to fulfil his promise as one of the world’s deadliest attacking full backs.
Centre Back: Virgil Van Dijk
How much higher would the Netherlands’ chances at the Euros be had Van Dijk been fit? How much better would Liverpool have defended their Premier League crown had he not missed most of the season. The best centre back in the world.
Centre Back: Sergio Ramos
One of the most shocking exclusions from any squad, we all know what Ramos is capable of doing for a team. You get the sense that Spain are preparing for major tournaments of the future by excluding Ramos.
Left Back: Theo Hernandez
In a recent article by Four Four Two magazine, Hernandez was ranked the third best left back in world football. But the AC Milan player has yet to make his debut for France. That tells you a lot about the ridiculous squad strength of Les Bleus.
LW: Julian Draxler
Germany’s players have come under fire for some limp performances over the last year, but you should not underestimate Germany’s chances at Euro 2020. A case in point is that Joachim Low has a squad good enough to leave the ultra-versatile Draxler at home. He’s not everyone’s favourite player, but the PSG man has bundles of talent, and his ability to play in several positions is every manager’s dream for a major tournament.
Centre Midfield: Sergej Milinkovic-Savic
Milinkovic-Savic has quietly become one of the world’s best midfielders at Lazio, and he should arguably have high expectations for international glory with a decent Serbia side. Alas, they will have to wait until next time after yet another limp performance in qualification.
Centre Midfield: Donny van de Beek
Can we clarify that we are talking about the sublime van de Beek of the 2019/20 season, and not the man who has struggled to make his name at Manchester United? Regardless, van de Beek would have welcomed the chance to get some game time for the Netherlands and restart his career. He won’t, though, as he has been ruled out by injury.
RW: Mason Greenwood
Another United player on the list, and arguably the inclusion most based on potential alone. Greenwood could be one of the best strikers in the world one day if he keeps his head in the right place. In our XI, we keep him on the right wing – just like at United. His future lies as a main striker, but he couldn’t shift the final two names on our list.
Forward: Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Lots of brilliant strikers are missing the Euros, but none carry the experience or force of personality of Zlatan. To be honest, he must have surprised even himself to see how good he was over the last season for AC Milan. Had he not been injured, they really could have kept up that title challenge.
Forward: Erling Haaland
The best player on this, although you could make an argument for Oblak or Van Dijk. Anyway, Haaland completes the team, playing alongside a striker twice his age. Norway have some decent talent coming through, but it seems a pity that the man primed to be the best striker of the 2020s might not get to show it at World Cups and European Championships.