They’re all key players in their international teams, but can’t get a game in the Premier League. Even for Chelsea.
To be a mainstay of the German national team and not get a game for Chelsea, so renowned for leaking goals, is an odd state of affairs.
“Sometimes in football, things can change very quickly,” Rudiger said when asked about his Chelsea future while on international duty this week. And when it comes to centre-backs at Stamford Bridge, never has there been a truer statement. For much of last season it seemed as though Frank Lampard was drawing his pairings from a hat before kick-off.
But having not featured in Chelsea’s first three Premier League games, Rudiger came close to leaving the club on loan at the end of the transfer window. The German is said to have been ‘attracted’ by a move to Spurs after a phonecall with Jose Mourinho, but was concerned about ‘fan backlash’. He then rejected the advances of West Ham as he felt there was a ‘limited sporting incentive’, which the cipher breakers among you will recognise as code for: ‘they’re shit and I’m too good for them’.
“I will continue to give my best every day and try to convince the manager,” Rudiger added. He’s a good egg, at least.
What must Bernardo have been thinking when City signed Ferran Torres? He already played significantly less football last season than the campaign before, despite Leroy Sane’s long-term injury meaning Pep Guardiola had just three brilliant wingers to choose from. With Torres, the twinkle-toed Portuguese now has even more competition, and the early-season signs don’t bode well: he’s played just 25 minutes in the Premier League.
With Raheem Sterling all but nailed on to start every game, Bernardo must outdo either Riyad Mahrez, who was on fire for much of last season and already has a worldie to his name this term, or City’s shiniest new toy.
“Keep in mind that it’s the daily life of players with their clubs that leads to France selection. He knows it. It’s up to him to decide the best solution for himself,” said France boss Didier Deschamps earlier this year, when asked whether Giroud should leave Chelsea for more game time.
But in reality, it seems to make absolutely no difference whether the 34-year-old is playing for his club or not; Deschamps will always select him. His brace against Ukraine took him above Michel Platini in the France goalscoring stakes; he’s just nine behind top dog Thierry Henry.
— #KroenkeOut (@BillowYussuf89) October 7, 2020
Forty-three goals is quite a lot for a striker who doesn’t score. They’ve come in 100 caps; Henry’s 51 came in 123.
He scored eight in ten starts at the end of the last campaign for Chelsea, but now predictably finds himself not just below new signing Timo Werner, but also Tammy Abraham, who he had superseded with his performances at the back end of the season.
Lampard is always quick to praise Giroud for his professionalism: “With Oli, and I keep talking about squad members, when he’s not playing I keep hearing him behind me on the bench shouting for Tammy, encouraging, backing his team-mate, and those things are huge.”
Perhaps he’s too nice a guy? Too easy to leave out?
The Leicester striker started and scored as part of a wonderfully bonkers midfield three for Nigeria on Tuesday. Iheanacho and Alex Iwobi flanked West Brom centre-back Semi Ajayi in a 4-3-3 formation completely devoid of actual midfielders. They drew 1-1 with Tunisia, who were presumably as bemused as we are.
The 24-year-old has started just 28 Premier League games in over three seasons for Leicester and has seen only half an hour of action this term. His indefinite wait for Jamie Vardy to stop being brilliant continues and shows very little sign of ending anytime soon.
Donny van de Beek
It’s not that weird that he’s not started a Premier League game for Manchester United yet, but it’s not not weird. Paul Pogba’s been a bit pants and Bruno Fernandes (the insubordinate little twerp) hasn’t been much better.
Van de Beek is the only one of the three to score a goal from open play and has played just 45 minutes of football. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will say it’s too soon and reports suggest he’s busy down the gym ‘bulking up like Fernandes’ (how long can that take?).
Solskjaer has insisted there’s no reason the Dutch midfielder can’t start alongside Pogba and Fernandes in the United midfield, but with the utter capitulation against Spurs in mind, what seemed unlikely before would now be an absurdly whimsical move. But fun to watch.
Will Ford is on Twitter