Summer is upon us – no, wait, it’s not. Winter is upon us, which means it’s World Cup season, obviously. So it’s time to cosy up by the fire, toast some marshmallows and watch England fail in some unexpected way.
West Ham have a proud history of players trotting off to far lands and having pretty good tournaments, so what about this time around? Who will go and who sadly missed out?
Declan Rice: The biggest triumph for international Hammers in the last couple of years has to be Declan, who is certain to be in Gareth’s lineup in Qatar. He proved he could form quick and effective partnerships with the likes of Jude Bellingham to become an integral part of Euro 2020 as well as the World Cup Qualifiers. Southgate can rely on Rice to perform his usual defensive midfield duties for England, or he can also be called upon to play a more forward role should the need come. With 34 caps under his belt, he’s become part of the furniture and we can’t wait to see him excel once more.
Thilo Kherer: One of this season’s signings for David Moyes has impressed with his calm and controlled defending style, something that has kept him in the German squad for the last four years. Manager Hansi Flick has given the versatile defender more minutes than any other player, and that looks set to continue against tough opposition in Group E, mainly in the form of Spain. He’s played plenty of domestic football this season, something that he was keen had to happen ahead of his move to London, in order to keep his international place for the World Cup.
Lucas Paqueta: We’re thanking the powers above that Paqueta is ready for the World Cup following an injury layoff. From a spectator’s perspective, he should be a joy to watch and it’s yet another Hammer to represent the claret and blue on the highest stage. With seven goals and 35 appearances for Brazil, he’ll be looking forward to once again pairing with Neymar for what could be the PSG forward’s last international tournament. Brazil manager Tite has tipped our midfielder to be one of the key components needed for the country to win another World Cup. So, no pressure then!
Alphonse Areola: There are six goalkeepers competing for a place in France’s World Cup squad, but Alphonse did himself plenty of favours with his West Ham performances and made the cut. Lloris remains first choice ‘keeper for Didier Deschamps, but Areola has had two games for Les Bleus this year; in one he kept a clean sheet against Austria and in the other he let in two against Denmark.
Kurt Zouma: Another French international playing in claret and blue, Zouma had been dropped by Deschamps after his disgraceful off-field behaviour earlier in the year. And he won’t be pulling on a France shirt this winter as he clearly hasn’t regained the trust of the manager.
Nayef Aguerd: The timing of this World Cup could have been better for the Moroccan. Injury kept the promising defender from making a consistent impact at West Ham, however he has been selected in the 26-man Morocco squad, showing his importance to the team. Despite two Conference League and one League Cup appearance, David Moyes wasn’t convinced that Aguerd was ready for a Premier League return, but that doesn’t matter to Walid Regragui who wants the defender to retain his place in his squad. He had a good run of games for Morocco in the early part of the year, most notably in the Africa Cup of Nations, so he deserves this opportunity.
Nikola Vlasic: If we want to clutch at straws for Hammers representing, on loan Vlasic seems to be heading to Qatar with Croatia after netting three times in 12 games for Torino, at the time of writing. With over 40 international caps, he’s well bedded into the squad and there’s no reason to doubt his place in the World Cup team.
Manuel Lanzini: The heartbreak of missing out on the 2018 World Cup through serious injury is surely still fresh in the memory for Lanzini, and it’s not looking like he’ll get his opportunity this time around either. The Argentinian had a quiet couple of seasons following the injury but has since started to become a more lively player again. It’s not been enough to get him back into Scaloni’s side on a permanent basis.
Pablo Fornals: Pablo has had a bit of a turbulent Spain career. He was a late entry to the Euro 2020 team, then was called up again for World Cup 2022 qualifiers. But he was subsequently not picked for Nations League fixtures this year, so it seems he’s fallen out of favour. Fornals’ lack of consistency in the league has had an impact on Luis Enrique’s decisions around his midfield options – and let’s face it, he’s got quite the selection!
Jarrod Bowen: We all excitedly watched on as our star man made his way into Gareth Southgate’s plans for the Nations League. He deserved his place and was picked on both form and quality. However, as the year has played out, he looked more like an outsider for the England squad for the World Cup. He was left out of the matchday squad for the Germany fixture, leaving us with a feeling that he wasn’t part of longer term plans.
So while it didn’t come as a complete surprise that he didn’t get his chance this time around, we’re fairly certain he’ll get his call-up for the big stage one day, hopefully the next Euros.