Spain manager Luis Enrique released the final list of the 26 players he will be taking to the FIFA World Cup. And he has named as many as seven Barcelona players in the squad that will represent La Roja in Qatar and look to win the tournament again after their 2010 triumph.
The seven Barcelona players included in the squad are Sergio Busquets, Pedri, Gavi, Eric Garcia, Jordi Alba, Ferran Torres and Ansu Fati.
Busquets, who will be captaining Spain at the World Cup, is the only player in the squad who was part of the World Cup-winning side in 2010.
At 34, the veteran midfielder is in the final phase of his career and is likely to leave Barça at the end of the season. But Enrique wants Busquets to continue playing at the international level and plans to convince the midfielder to play another World Cup.
“My goal is to convince Busquets to play in another World Cup. I am not joking, I don’t see a better pivot in the world than Busi for our system,” the Spain national team manager said in his press conference after announcing the squad.
There had been a lot of doubts over Ansu Fati’s inclusion in the squad heading up to the World Cup as he is being eased back into action at Barça after an injury-riddled couple of years.
Enrique admitted that the young forward’s inclusion was one of the doubts he had until the final hour, but ultimately decided to back the 20-year-old.
“It had been one of the doubts until the last minute. We bet on him before others. Ansu’s level is unquestionable. He has gone through a difficult process. I had doubts until the last second,” Enrique said.
“The hope that I have in recovering the best version of Ansu has influenced me. Is he close? We’ll see. Watching him train, I’ll see. At Barça, he has played more, but he hasn’t become a fixture because of the competition.”
On naming as many as seven Barcelona players in the squad, Enrique added: “I don’t look at what club they are from, nor do I intend to base myself on a team. I don’t look at the number of players from each club, the age, etc. I look at the values that we ask for to compete in our team
On Gerard Pique, he said: “Piqué was on the pre-list because when I give it he was an active player and one of the best centre-backs. He finished last season injured, competing with his team. He is a competitive machine.
“When I give that list, the idea it is that of continuity, but in the list of 55 there were other veterans who would have no doubt that they would perform.”