The England manager named his squad for the upcoming Euro 2020 qualifiers, and was immediately met with dissent for leaving out players, with one particular exclusion sticking out like a sore thumb
Gareth Southgate’s decision to leave out some players was understandably met with uproar from various fanbases for myriad reasons — especially for Crystal Palace fans, who had extra reason to feel outraged as they heard news of the exclusion of Aaron Wan-Bissaka, who it seems is now fourth-choice right-back for the Three Lions.
The 21-year-old has been a revelation since making his breakthrough into the Eagles’ starting XI last year, and his run of excellent displays have, for obvious reasons, attracted interest from some of Europe’s top clubs. But it seems even that is not a good enough yardstick for his call-up to the England first team in the eyes of Southgate, who has been known to shown ensure he picks players based on form rather than reputation.
And Gareth Southgate came out with an explanation behind the apparent snubbing of the Palace number 29, saying: “I’m not prepared to pick players just to stop the possibility of other countries picking them. Aaron Wan-Bissaka is playing very well, and he’s really pushing to be in our squad — there’s no question. I could pick players, give them a cap, and stop them playing somewhere else but I don’t think that’s right.”
The former defender was alluding to the fact that Wan-Bissaka’s can also turn up for DR Congo — for whom he has previously been called up at the youth level — and is making it quite clear that he will only pick players who have already picked their choices of the country they will represent, and he also does not want any issue to crop up later regarding dual nationality players from England who could play for other countries as well.
Southgate’s intentions are to be lauded, but it is still a big risk to exclude a player from the England senior squad, especially someone with a ceiling as high as Wan-Bissaka, and risk them choosing to represent a different national side and giving them his best years. There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that the young right back must be there training with the likes of Spurs’ Harry Kane and Dele Alli for the national side.
Also to be considered is the fact that England have once again reverted back to a back four, post the highs of the 2018 World Cup, which means Wan-Bissaka can arguably be at least as effective as Tottenham’s Kieran Trippier, and even Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold, while going forward, though he has a lot to learn in that aspect.
With that being said, the Palace academy graduate is no doubt one of the best one-on-one defenders in the game, which means it will only be a matter of time before Southgate has no option but to give him a deserved call-up.
Southgate may seem to be making a mistake, but for now, it seems sensical to let Wan-Bissaka himself choose which country he wants to represent, after which only he must be called up by his
A more recent example is another young light of English football, Declan Rice, who has been impressive for West Ham and put in some excellent displays at the tender age of 20. Only after he decided to pledge his allegiance to England (he was also eligible to play for the Republic of Ireland) has he been handed his first call-up to the England senior squad. It remains to be seen what happens of the Wan-Bssaka situation, and England fans must be hoping that he chooses to give them his best displays rather than DR Congo.