Soccer  

Sergio Ramos misses out on fairytale return, Ansu Fati in

Paris Saint-Germain defender Sergio Ramos has missed out on the World Cup after being left out by Spain coach Luis Enrique, while Barcelona forward Ansu Fati has been included in the 26-man squad for Qatar.

Ramos, Spain’s record appearance holder, made his last appearance for La Roja in March 2021 but was back in contention after excelling for PSG this season, playing 12 times in Ligue 1 and starting all six of their Champions League games.

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Fati, 20, hasn’t played for his country since October 2020, when he suffered a serious knee injury which ruled him out for 10 months, followed by persistent hamstring and thigh muscle problems which kept him from reaching full fitness.

“I won’t assess the players who aren’t on the list,” Luis Enrique said in a news conference on Friday, when asked about Ramos.

“I recognise and thank all of those players who have contributed during my time here and played games with the national team, but from there, the important ones now are the 26 who are here.”

On Fati, Luis Enrique added: “Ansu is in a process of getting back to being the player he was before his injury.

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“He’s now totally recovered, he’s played a lot of games for his club. We can discuss when he’ll be back at his previous level, we all want that.”

Along with Ramos, there was no place for Real Betis forward Borja Iglesias or Villarreal striker Gerard Moreno in Spain’s squad.

Luis Enrique also confirmed that Gerard Pique had featured on his provisional 55-man list before the Barcelona centre-back announced his retirement.

“Pique was on the provisional list because when I came up with the provisional list he was an active player,” Luis Enrique said.

“He’s a competitive machine, or he was. When I named the list of 55 I thought clearly [about him], not as a first option because the line has been one of continuity.”

Ramos, 36, has played 180 times for his country since making his debut in March 2005, scoring 23 goals. He was a key part of the Spain team that won the European Championship in 2008 and 2012 and the World Cup in 2010.

The centre-back was left out of Spain’s Euro 2020 squad after an injury-hit 2020-21 season and left Real Madrid for PSG on a free transfer later that summer.

His first season in the French capital was also disrupted by injuries, playing just 13 games in all competitions, but he has since returned to full fitness with his club.

Luis Enrique also joked he was the best national team manager in history when asked if he had ever doubted himself as Spain boss.

“How am I going to have doubts?” Luis Enrique said. “There’s no better national team manager than me in the history of world football.

“That’s what I believe. Another thing is that it’s reality, which evidently is not true. But I believe it.”

Spain squad in full:

Goalkeepers: Unai Simon (Athletic Club), Robert Sanchez (Brighton & Hove Albion), David Raya (Brentford).

Defenders: Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea), Dani Carvajal (Real Madrid), Eric Garcia (Barcelona), Hugo Guillamon (Valencia), Pau Torres (Villarreal), Aymeric Laporte (Manchester City), Jordi Alba (Barcelona), Jose Gaya (Valencia).

Midfielders: Sergio Busquets (Barcelona), Rodri (Manchester City), Gavi (FC Barcelona), Carlos Soler (PSG), Marcos Llorente (Atletico Madrid), Pedri (Barcelona), Koke Resurreccion (Atletico Madrid).

Forwards: Ferran Torres (Barcelona), Nico Williams (Athletic Club), Yeremi Pino (Villarreal), Alvaro Morata (Atletico Madrid), Marco Asensio (Real Madrid), Pablo Sarabia (PSG), Dani Olmo (RB Leipzig), Ansu Fati (Barcelona).