“Laporte is not selected but he will be selected. It’s difficult to find a better left central defender than him in the world,” said Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola in October, after the stopper was once again overlooked for the France national team.
There can’t be many £57m players without a senior international cap, never mind one in the form of their life under arguably the greatest coach in the world, in possibly the finest team playing currently. Yet that’s the fate of Laporte, who continues to watch as Mamadou Sakho gets the nod ahead of him for Les Bleus.
The latest product of the prolific Valencia academy, Soler may only be 21 but the midfielder has already played 83 times for Los Che.
His impressive form last season led to the youngster being called up for Spain’s pre-World Cup training camp, but he didn’t go to the tournament and watched on from home as they crashed out in the last 16.
Following the international retirement of fellow Valencia graduate David Silva, Soler may well get the chance to grab the torch in his predecessor’s place.
“The dream isn’t dead yet,” said Schalke midfielder Daniel Caligiuri of his international prospects earlier this year, despite the fact that the German-Italian turns 31 in January.
A DFB-Pokal winner with Wolfsburg, Caligiuri has played over 250 times in the Bundesliga for Schalke, Wolfsburg and Freiburg, having joined the latter aged 17 in 2005.
Italy manager Roberto Mancini has experimented with many players after the Azzurri’s failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, but the 30-year-old is still waiting for a call having not heard from the national team since training with them back in May 2015.
It’s surely a matter of when rather than if for Maddison, who has been selected by Gareth Southgate in his last two England squads. The Leicester midfielder didn’t make if off the bench for Nations League clashes with Croatia and Spain, but would probably have been in line for a debut against the USA before injury ruled him out.
Southgate has been watching Maddison since his Norwich days, and his five goals and two assists since making a step up to the Premier League suggest that the 22-year-old could soon be the missing link between England’s midfield and attack.
Maxime Gonalons, Clement Grenier, Benjamin Stambouli, Morgan Schneiderlin and Moussa Sissoko all played for France’s under-21s alongside Andre. Yet unlike that quintet, the Rennes midfielder never got the chance to play at senior level.
A hard-working and modest player, Andre described his U21 call-up while still at boyhood club Ajaccio in Ligue 2 as “more of a surprise than a form of recognition”. He went on to make seven appearances at that level, while also helping Ajaccio into the French top tier and keeping them there for three years.
Andre has developed into a fine box-to-box midfielder at Rennes but counts central defence, right-back and right wing as previous positions.
Sure, there’s a pretty large talent pool available to Brazil boss Tite, but even so it still remains a surprise that Malcom is yet to play for his country at senior level – especially as the duo won the league together at Corinthians back in 2015.
After two-and-a-half impressive years at Bordeaux, where he scored 23 goals and provided 16 assists from the wing in 96 games, the 21-year-old earned his big move when Barcelona came calling this summer. He’s still finding his feet at the Camp Nou, but Malcom surely still has a big role to play in the Seleção‘s future.
In the summer of 2013, Sarabia was part of Spain Under-21 squad that won the European Championship – a team which boasted the likes of David de Gea, Thiago Alcantara, Koke and Isco. Sevilla’s attacking midfielder accumulated 23 U21 caps in total, after previously playing at every youth level up to that point.
Yet while his team-mates’ careers flourished, Sarabia had to take a different route, and left Real Madrid’s youth ranks after seven years to join Getafe in 2011 with just one appearance to his name.
Now in his third season at Sevilla and thriving, the 26-year-old has seven goals and six assists in 20 games of 2018/19.
Telles is a title winner in Turkey with Galatasaray and Portugal with current side Porto, but that’s yet to convince Brazil that he’s worth calling up. He can thank Marcelo, Filipe Luis and Alex Sandro for that, but it’s still surprising that the defender will soon turn 26 and has never been selected for a squad.
It’s led to the former Inter full-back considering his options; namely, playing for Italy by virtue of his heritage. As he told Gazzetta dello Sport in 2016: “I may be Brazilian, but my great grandparents are Italian and I feel Italian.”
Over to you, Mancini.
“It’s a big dream to one day play for the national team, there’s no doubt about that,” Hofmann told bundesliga.com in November. “I’m now at the optimal age for a footballer, so perhaps my childhood dream will come true.”
After Germany were knocked out of the World Cup group stage and were then relegated from their Nations League pool without winning a single game, Jogi Low may well look towards players like Hofmann to revitalise a tired team.
Not that the midfielder is a young upstart by any means, but the 26-year-old seems to have finally hit stride with five goals in 11 Bundesliga games this season – his first league goals since 2015/16 – as Borussia Monchengladbach have risen to second in the table.