Discarded XI: Best players left out of Premier League squads

Date published: Thursday 22nd October 2020 8:09

Mesut Ozil Arsenal

These are the players left out of their clubs’ 25-man squads. It’s not a bad team. And they are all internationals. We think they might concede fewer goals than Fulham.

We have missed out any players who are long-term injured so we are just left with the discarded…


Goalkeeper: Sergio Romero (Manchester United)
To sum it up better than we could…

The man has 96 caps for Argentina and you make him fourth-choice goalkeeper behind Lee Grant? Shame on you.


Right-back: Danny Rose (Tottenham)
Yes, we know he is a left-back, but we would trust him at right-back rather more than we would trust Achraf Lazaar.

“Danny is not part of our squad. Danny wanted very, very much to leave in the January window last season. Why? Because he wanted to play and play and play,” said Jose Mourinho when asked about Rose’s omission. He did not quite ‘play and play and play’ but he did feature 11 times in the Premier League for Newcastle, who were not convinced enough to make the move permanent. And nor, bizarrely, were AC Milan.

Reports suggest that Tottenham will eventually just pay him to bugger off.


Centre-half: Phil Jones (Manchester United)
If you do not feel any sympathy for Phil Jones – allegedly still only 28 – then we cannot be friends. We cannot have awkward Zoom chats. We cannot meet for really cold walks in the park.

Jones has not played for Manchester United since January, when Bruno Fernandes presumably entered the building with a list of players he absolutely could not stomach. The latest claims are that United want £20m for a player they absolutely do not want themselves. Good job they gave him a new contract last season to ‘protect their asset’.


Centre-half: Sokratis (Arsenal)
Lost in the fuss about Ozil is Sokratis, the 32-year-old Greek defender who actually started last season as first choice for Unai Emery. He did initially retain his place under Mikel Arteta but he never got off the bench in Project Restart. The summer signing of Gabriel sealed his fate and now Sokratis faces a battle to stay fit and convince Napoli that he is still a viable option in January. The alternative is probably early retirement in Greece.


Left-back: Achraf Lazaar (Newcastle United)
Yet another international, Moroccan Lazaar has actually played far more often for his country than his club, who he joined in 2016 when they were in the Championship for around £2.5m. His last game for Newcastle came in the Carabao Cup over three years ago and his last senior game of any kind came in July for Cosenza in Serie B; he played nine minutes in their ten games after lockdown.

This week he was spotted actually playing for Newcastle’s Under-23s; they might as well put him to some use in the final year of his contract.


Central midfield: Jean Michael Seri (Fulham)
Remember when it was seen as a genuine coup when newly promoted Fulham signed Seri after he had been linked with Barcelona and all manner of other European superpowers as he prepared to leave Nice for – gulp – £27m. Now the latest newly promoted Fulham have no room for Seri, for whom a proposed £18m switch to AC Milan did not materialise.

He was literally playing Champions League football for Galatasaray last season.


Central midfield: Danny Drinkwater (Chelsea)
There was some tentative interest from the Championship but the actual Premier League title winner and England international did his reputation a whole lot of harm last season on loan at Burnley and Aston Villa, failing to produce the goods on the pitch and getting into trouble off it. He is 30 years old and he really should know better.

‘As much as I would love to be settled at a club like I should be, the unknown is kinda exciting,’ write Drinkwater on Instagram last month. Since then absolutely nothing has changed and now the only ‘unknown’ is whether January will bring slightly better news. Even Victor Moses got another gig.


Attacking midfield: Mesut Ozil (Arsenal)
“Mesut Ozil is an exceptional football player. What’s happening at the moment between him and the club looks to be more confrontational, it’s not [only] based on sport, I’m convinced. This guy has won things. He’s a world champion, he’s an exceptional football player” – Arsene Wenger.

“As I have just found out, loyalty is hard to come by nowadays” – Mesut Ozil.

It’s a massive shame because he was once – in the days when Kevin de Bruyne was as young as he looks – the Premier League’s finest footballer, and certainly its most creative. There is something incredibly sad about such an absurd waste. Read this.


Winger: Kamil Grosicki (West Brom)
Hopes are still alive that a deadline-day switch to Nottingham Forest can still go through as all parties claim that all the paperwork was signed before the window officially closed. He would become Forest’s 427th signing of the window. Or something.

If that transfer is not valid then Grosicki is in limbo, not needed by West Brom despite scoring a hat-trick for Poland earlier this month.


Striker: Yannick Bolasie (Everton)
If you are thinking that Bolasie is a winger then obviously you did not seem him playing as a centre-forward for Sporting last season in their Europa League campaign. Well obviously you didn’t. And nor did we. But we need him as a striker in this ropey XI and he gets the job despite scoring just twice in 25 games on loan in Portugal last season.

Ideally, he would have gone to the Championship on loan with Middlesbrough this season but the move fell through, so he continues to train at Finch Farm until January, with Carlo Ancelotti praising his professionalism and attitude in the face of being entirely surplus to requirements. He had no chance up against Cenk Tosun.


Winger: Christian Atsu (Newcastle United)
“Those who aren’t involved will continue to train and keep themselves right and once we hit December and January, we hope we can get them fixed up with clubs,” says Steve Bruce, who has somehow been left with a massive squad that left no room for Atsu, Henri Saivet, Lazaar or Rolando Aarons. Certainly, Newcastle have a surfeit of wingers with even new signing Ryan Fraser having to play second fiddle to Allan Saint-Maximin.

Atsu continues to be linked with a Celtic switch; they must have been impressed with his ten minutes in the Carabao Cup last month.

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