MADRID, Nov 11 (Reuters) – Spain included Barcelona’s Ansu Fati but on Friday excluded Liverpool midfielder Thiago Alcantara and Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea from their 26-man World Cup squad .
Fati, now 20, made his international debut in 2020 aged 17 and in his second game became the youngest player to score for Spain, breaking a record held since 1925 by Juan Errazquien.
But the striker is battling to return from four surgeries to repair a left knee injury, suffered in November 2020.
“He was one of our last question marks. I doubted until the last minute, but I decided for him because his technical qualities are incredible and being here with us could be a great motivation for him as he is still working to get back to top form,” Spain coach Luis Enrique told a press conference.
“It’s a process he goes through to become the Ansu Fati he was before the injury.
“That could surely be assessed when he gets back to his previous level. That’s one of the things we’re all looking for.”
Luis Enrique declined to comment on the players who have been left out, but the absence of veterans like De Gea, Thiago and Barcelona defender Marcos Alonso indicates the coach’s preference to go all-in with the new generation of Spanish talent .
De Gea has fallen out of favor with Luis Enrique who said in March he ‘wanted to test other goalkeepers’ and Thiago has seen his role diminish with the rise of Barca teenagers Pedri, 19, and Gavi , 18 years old.
“Youth gives you freedom because you are not yet aware of the consequences,” said Luis Enrique. “Yet most of the youngsters who are with us are already in top teams.
“The bar I set is infinity. My goal is to get in every game.
“There is no one outside of Spain who excludes Spain as a top contender. We will give war, there is no doubt about that.”
Spain were drawn in Group E along with Costa Rica, Germany and Japan.
Goalkeepers: Unai Simon (Athletic Bilbao), 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 Hernandez (Manchester City), Gavi (Barcelona), Carlos Soler (Paris St Germain), Marcos Llorente (Atletico Madrid), Pedri Gonzalez (Barcelona), Koke Resurreccion (Atletico Madrid).
Forwards: Ferran Torres (Barcelona), Nico Williams (Athletic Bilbao), Yeremi Pino (Villarreal), Alvaro Morata (Atletico Madrid), Marco Asensio (Real Madrid), Pablo Sarabia (Paris St Germain), Dani Olmo (RB Leipzig), Ansu Fati (Barcelona)
Reporting by Fernando Kallas; Editing by Toby Davis and Ken Ferris
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