Going on the last international break of the year will be a burden lifted from the shoulders of many, but it is also an opportunity for some players to earn themselves a spot at the World Cup next summer. These are ten of the most recent call-ups hoping to make a memorable performance in their international debuts next week.
Cristian Pavon (Argentina)
Despite the Argentina national team brimming with top attacking talents, the South American qualified for the World Cup by the skin of their teeth and there are spots in the 2018 tournament that needs to be filled. 21-year-old winger Pavon will be looking to make a name for himself this week, and he has undoubtedly been outstanding for Boca Juniors this season. He has been a big part of his side’s unbeaten run in the Primera Division Argentina, from which they hold a record of +19 goal difference, with the Argentinean ranked fourth (7.74) in WhoScored.com’s ratings in Argentina.
Tammy Abraham (England)
With Harry Kane withdrawn from the English squad due to a knee injury, this is the time for Tammy Abraham to establish his presence in the squad in the upcoming friendlies with Germany and Brazil. The 20-year-old has been the only bright spot in an otherwise gloomy campaign for Swansea. Scoring four goals out of the club’s total of seven this season is a clear indication of his impact at the club.
Joe Gomez (England)
Nathaniel Clyne’s absence at both club and country has lend voice to Gomez and he has lived up to expectation filling Clyne’s shoes at right-back at Liverpool. He plays his favoured role at centre-back for England’s U21s and it’s there he first caught Gareth Southgate’s attention. Having made the most tackles and interceptions for the Reds this term (3.6), he currently has a rating of 7.11, holding a place in the Premier League team of the season.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek (England)
Like Abraham, Loftus-Cheek is on a loan spell to a fellow Premier League club from Chelsea and, like Abraham, he too has been Crystal Palace’s saving grace. He is another player full of potential in the Three Lions’ youth side, his call up was not expected as he has been plagued with injuries this season but the 21-year-old has excelled when featured. He could be gracing the England central park in the friendlies and Loftus-Cheek would without doubt be a delight to watch especially with the absence of Dele Alli. Only club teammate Andros Townsend has surpassed his average dribbles per game in the Premier League this season (3.1).
Steven N’Zonzi (France)
Regarding physical dominance in the midfield, many will concur that it is time N’Zonzi stake a claim for a place in the France squad. The Sevilla man has been a strong fixture in midfield in La Liga since he transferred from Stoke City. His ball possession skill, combined with his pass accuracy of 91.3% across the league and Champions League, while also offering top notch aerial presence in central park could propel Les Bleus forward.
Marcel Halstenberg (Germany)
Jonas Hector’s injury has left a gaping hole in Joachim Löw‘s Germany squad, with Marcel Halstenberg the latest player to try out for a position that has proven impossible to fill for Die Mannschaft. The 26-year-old has been an integral part of RB Leipzig success story since their promotion to the Bundesliga in 2016 and his strength is that he has no significant weakness, while he remains strong in the air and possess good dribbling skills. Providing two assists this season.
Bruno Fernandes (Portugal)
Having played in Italy for the better part of his career, a return to his homeland has seen Bruno earn a call-up to the senior national team for the European Championship. The 23-year-old gained momentum at Sporting CP, scoring for the sixth time this season over the weekend, making this the best season of his career thus far after just 10 appearances. With his additional two assists, he has a rating of 7.53 on WhoScored.com and is one of the most anticipated first time call ups for Portugal.
Sergej Milinkovic-Savic (Serbia)
Despite receiving a call-up to the Serbia national team in 2015, Milinkovic is yet to be capped. A top talent in Serie A club Lazio, he is arguably the kind of player to build a national team around. With the reins of the team set to be handed to a new manager following the exit of Slavoljub Muslin, a midfield comprised of the 22-year-old Nemaja Matic would pose a threat to those they may encounter. While providing the team with great strength, Milinkovic-Savic is fully equipped to establish himself on the international front.
Luis Alberto (Spain)
Milinkovic-Savic’s Lazio teammate, Alberto’s exemplary performance in behind Ciro Immobile have meant that the former has reverted to a deeper role in midfield. The former Liverpool player has grown in spades and, at 25, is thoroughly deserving of an opportunity to grace the international stage in the coming days. Having scored three goals and provided five assists in 11 appearances, he is rated third in Serie A this season (7.99) and got honored as WhoScored.com’s player of the month for October
In a different part of Italy, another former Liverpool player has gone past the disappointment of not measuring up to the Reds’ standard. Suso bid Premier League goodbye in 2013 and has risen to prominence since he joined A.C. Milan a year later. Indeed, the Rossoneri did a major overhauling of their squad in the summer but the 23-year-old is one of few that retained his place, and justifiably, netting five goals and providing three assists in ten league starts this season.