Born in the south east of Ireland, Simon put his life-long love of football to good use when he started a successful independent blog in 2010. That opened up an alternative route to a career in journalism, and having had work published across a number of sites and publications, Simon joined the staff at Spotlight Sports Group in 2018.
The English Premier League is one of the most internationally diverse domestic championships in world football. But how well is the self-proclaimed “Best League in The World” represented at the 2018 World Cup in Russia? Let’s take a closer look at the Premiership based players turning out in international colours this summer.
World Cup Group A has the lowest concentration of Premier League players at this summer’s tournament, with just 2 members from the combined Egyptian, Saudi Arabian, Russian and Uruguayan squads currently plying their trade in England’s top flight.
Arsenal’s Mohamed Elneny is a key member of Egypt’s midfield, while the effervescent attacker Mohamed Salah should be at the very least be fit enough to feature in the Egyptian’s second group game after his Champions League Final shoulder injury.
Egypt’s Premier League contingent was truncated by the recent relegation of West Brom and Stoke City respectively. Defenders Ahmed Hegazi and Ali Gabr both went down with the Baggies, while midfielder Ramadan Sobhi could do little to halt the Potters slide to the Championship. Those three will join compatriot Sam Morsy in the second-tier next season. Morsy played 41 times for Wigan during their League One winning campaign in 2017/18, helping them to earn promotion to the Championship.
Group A Premier League Player Count: 2
Group B has a healthy smattering of Premier League talent, though the neighbouring countries from the Iberian Peninsula are hoarding most of it.
Although Iran are managed by former Manchester United Assistant Manager Carlos Queiroz, none of their current players can call the Premiership their home. Ashkan Dejagah comes closest, though the winger was just released from a short-term contract by Championship side Nottingham Forest having been at the City Ground since January.
Moroccan defender Romain Saïss is one of the newest additions to the Premier League. The 28-year old defender played 34 times for Wolves in 2017/18 during their run to the Championship title.
Portugal currently have 4 Premier League players in their ranks. Bernardo Silva was part of Manchester City’s title winning team, Cedric Soares narrowly avoided the drop with Southampton and Adrien Silva struggled for game time at Leicester City, making just 14 appearances in all for the Foxes last term. He will be joined at the King Power Stadium next season by right back Ricardo Pereira. The 24-year old swapped Porto for Leicester just last week in a €25m deal. Midfield João Mário spent last season on loan at West Ham from Inter in Italy. The Hammers have an option to buy the former Sporting CP graduate, though it seems West Ham are keen to extend his loan for another year instead of signing João Mário on a permanent basis.
Spain also have 4 Premier League combatants among their number. Manchester United’s super-human shot stopper David de Gea will start between the sticks for La Roja, though Chelsea’s César Azpilicueta and Arsenal’s Nacho Monreal are expected to play the role of defensive reinforcements. Former European Championship and World Cup winner David Silva will have a big part to play again this year for Spain. The magical Manchester City schemer has played 119 times for country. That appearance total is the 3rd highest in the Spanish squad and is only bettered by Sergio Ramos and Andres Iniesta.
Group B Premier League Player Count: 9
We start with a look at the make-up the Australian squad in our Group C analysis. Brighton & Hove Albion goalkeeper Mathew Ryan played every minute of every Premier League game last season for the Seagulls, while 27-year old Huddersfield midfielder Aaron Mooey enjoyed a productive first season in the top flight in 2017/18.
Interestingly, the Championship is much better represented in the Socceroos’ squad than the top tier – James Meredith (Millwall) Mile Jedinak (Aston Villa), Massimo Luongo (QPR) and Jackson Irvine (Hull City) are all attached to clubs in the division, while veteran midfielder Tim Cahill was also at Millwall until mid-May.
The Premier League has always found room for Danish footballers. At present 5 members of the De Rød-Hvide 27-man preliminary squad are attached to clubs in England’s top division. Goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel is at Leicester City and his fellow stopper Jonas Lossl is at Huddersfield Town where he plays behind defender Mathias Jorgensen. Andreas Christiensen has established himself as a first-choice member of Chelsea’s back three this season, while Christian Eriksen has been pulling the strings for Tottenham Hotspur. At 26, Eriksen is already the third most capped player in Denmark’s squad with 77 appearances for his country.
France match Denmark’s number of Premier League representatives. Hugo Lloris is the French and Tottenham Hotspur number one. He should pass the 100-cap mark for his country this summer, if France can make it out of their Group. Man City’s Benjamin Mendy made the cut despite missing the majority of the season through injury. Paul Pogba will hope to make more of an impact for Les Bleus than he did for Manchester United this season. N’Golo Kante will anchor the midfield area he shares with Pogba and Chelsea’s Olivier Giroud is listed among Deschamps’ attacking options. Incidentally, with 72 appearances, Giroud is the most capped French outfield player in the squad.
André Carrillo is the only Peruvian World Cup squad member with a Premier League contract, even if it is a temporary one. The 27-year old is currently on loan at Watford from Benfica. The attacking midfielder scored just once in 28 appearances for Watford this year and I’d imagine the Hornets will be put off signing him permanently due to his lack of sting.
Group C Premier League Player Count: 13
Argentina have 5 Premier League stars in their squad, with 3 of those players likely to claim starting berths in Jorge Sampaoli’s staring XI. Chelsea’s Willy Caballero is expected to be handed the gloves after Man Utd’s Sergio Romero was ruled out of the World Cup with a knee injury. Man City’s Nicolas Otamendi will be a key component of the Argentinean defence, and his City teammate Sergio Aguero should see plenty of action in attack. Man Utd defender Marcos Rojo also makes Sampaoli’s final selection. The 27-year old is rarely fit for his club, but Rojo is always injury free when his country come calling. Some guys have all the luck. West Ham’s Manuel Lanzini will almost certainly play second fiddle to Argentina’s bigger names in midfield.
Centre half Dejan Lovren will be keen to shake off his Champion’s League disappointment with Liverpool by helping Croatia get to the knock-out rounds of the World Cup. Lovren is the only Croat employed by a Premier League club.
Burnley’s Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson enjoyed a fruitful campaign with the Clarets in 2017/18, though his Icelandic team mate Gylfi Sigurðsson had a more turbulent time ruing his first season at Everton. Guðmundsson and Sigurðsson will be welcoming Iceland skipper Aron Gunnarsson to the Premier League next season. The 29-year old was a member of Cardiff City’s Championship promotion winning team under Neil Warnock.
There are currently 6 Nigerian World Cup squad members contracted to Premier League clubs. Wilfred Ndidi and Kelechi Iheanacho are at Leicester City, while fellow Fox Ahmed Musa is back at the club after a season-long loan at Russian side CSKA Moscow. Musa is the leading marksman in Nigeria’s squad with 13 international goals. Chelsea wing-back Victor Moses is the second top scorer behind Musa, having netted 11 times for his country. Moses young clubmate Ola Aina has just finished a year on loan at Hull City, though he is still officially a Chelsea player. Arsenal’s Alex Iwobi will be hoping to add to his 17 caps for Nigeria this summer.
Group D Premier League Player Count: 15
Brazil’s impact on the top-end of the Premier League was considerable in 2017/18. All 6 members of Tite’s squad who play their football in England, do so at top 4 Premiership clubs. Manchester City is home to 4 of those players with Ederson, Danilo, Fernandinho and Gabriel Jesus playing their part in the Citizen’s title triumph this term. Chelsea’s Willian is unsettled at Stamford Bridge and has been linked with a move north to Man Utd. He could be joined at Old Trafford next season by Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder Fred, who is ironing out the final details before he makes the switch to Jose Mourinho’s side. Roberto Firmino enjoyed a fabulous campaign as a member of Liverpool’s devastating attacking trident alongside Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah.
There are no Cost Rican World Cup squad members in the Premier League, though utility player Bryan Oviedo spent five years at Everton before being transferred to football’s ever-expanding football sink-hole in Sunderland.
Serbia have a healthy representation of talent in the Premiership with 5 of their World Cup roster pulling a wage packet from top tier clubs. Dusan Tadic had been at Southampton since 2014, though time is running out for the 29-year old to navigate the well-trodden Saints-Reds trade route to Liverpool. Nemanja Matic patrols the Manchester United midfield, while Luka Milivojevic does a similar job for Crystal Palace. Liverpool’s youngster Marko Grujic is back at Anfield after a short loan spell at Cardiff City and Aleksandar Mitrovic must decide whether he wants to swap Newcastle for Fulham after a prolific few months on loan at Craven Cottage.
Finally, Switzerland have 2 Premier League-rs at their disposal. Granit Xhaka is a divisive figure at Arsenal and Edimilson Fernandes is a bit-part player across London at West Ham. Swiss star Xherdan Shaqiri was relegated with Stoke City this month, while Juventus veteran Stephan Lichsteiner is in talks with Arsenal if the rumour mill is to be believed.
Group E Premier League Player Count: 13
Read more: World Cup 2018: Analysing Brazil’s potential starting lineup
Current World Cup champions and one of the favourites to win this year’s tournament Germany, have 4 Premier League footballers representing them in Russia. Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger is joined in Die Mannschaft’s ranks by Man City duo Ikay Gundogan and Leroy Sane. Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil will be appearing at his third World Cup this summer and the former Real Madrid attacking midfielder has amassed 89 caps during his long-spanning international career. Only Thomas Muller in Germany’s current squad has played more times for his country.
West Ham’s Javier Hernandez is the only Mexican picked for this summer’s World Cup who is attached to a Premier League club. Chicharito is Mexico’s top scorer by some distance – he’s scored 49 goals in 101 appearances for El Tri.
South-Korea’s Lee Chung-yong played just 6 times for Crystal Palace last season, though his compatriot Son-Heung-min was a vital cog in the Tottenham Hotspur attack, scoring 18 times in 52 games in all competitions for Mauricio Pochettino’s men. Ki Sung-yeung, who is 1 appearance away from 100 for the Koreans was relegated to the Championship with Swansea City in 2017/18.
Man Utd’s Victor Lindelof is the only Premier League based Swede heading to the World Cup with Janne Andersson’s squad. Martin Olsson and Kristoffer Nordfeldt will join South Korea’s Ki Sung-yeung in the Championship. They will also be reunited with Swedish World Cup pair Sebastian Larsson (Hull City) and Pontus Jansson (Leeds United).
Group F Premier League Player Count: 8
Read more: Can Germany Fill the Boots Left by Miroslav Klose?
Ok, strap yourselves in for a Premier League player overload. Let’s get the obvious one out of the way – 22 of England’s 23-man World Cup squad are Premier League players. The odd one out is goalkeeper Jack Butland who couldn’t prevent his club Stoke City from being relegated this season.
13 of Roberto Martinez preliminary Belgium squad are also homed at Premier League clubs. As things stand, just under 50% of the Belgian selection strut their stuff in the Premiership, though that could alter after the impending 5-man cull and transfer merry-go-round.
Thibaut Courtois, Eden Hazard and Michy Batshuayi are all contracted to Chelsea, though Batshuayi will hope to make his loan move to Borussia Dortmund a permanent one. Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen and Mousa Dembele are all key players at Tottenham Hotspur. Romelu Lukaku and Marouane Fellaini are at Man Utd, though the latter is expected to leave on a free transfer before the World Cup starts.
Vincent Kompany and Kevin De Bruyne are polishing title winning medals at Manchester City, while Simon Mignolet is being kept out of the Liverpool team by Loris Karius (stop laughing down the back). Defender Christian Kabasele plays with Watford and Christian Benteke continues to embarrass himself at Crystal Palace. Winger Nacer Chadli couldn’t beat the drop with WBA this season, despite the team’s late rally under Darren Moore. Of course, Belgium’s Premier League association extends to the dugout. They are managed by former Wigan and Everton boss Roberto Martinez.
Panama have no Premier League players in their preliminary squad, in fact, no Panamanian footballers currently play in any of Europe’s traditional Big 5 divisions (Premier League, La Liga, Serie A, Ligue 1 and Bundesliga).
31-year old Tunisian defender Yohan Benalouane is a member of the playing staff at Leicester City, though he has played just 16 times for the Foxes since his transfer there from Atalanta in 2015.
Group G Premier League Player Count: 36
Just 3 members of Colombia’s talented World Cup squad come from clubs in England’s Premier League. Arsenal back-up goalkeeper David Ospina is the most capped Colombian player at this summer’s tournament in Russia, having appeared 85 times for La Tricolor. He’s joined on the plane by promising Tottenham Hotspur defender Davinson Sanchez and energetic Brigton & Hove Albion wide-man Jose Izquierdo.
Southampton’s Maya Yoshida and Leicester City’s Shinji Okazaki will be wearing Samurai Blue for Japan next month. Okazaki is a legendary figure in Japanese football and this summer’s tournament will be his third World Cup Finals in a row. The 32-year old has scored 50 times in 111 appearances for Japan, which makes him the highest scorer in their current squad and puts him third in Japan’s all-time scorer charts.
Polish full-back Jan Bednarek is employed by Southampton, though the 22-year old has yet to make any real impact at St. Mary’s. There’s a good chance that the former Lech Poznan trainee will be cut from Adam Nawałka preliminary squad this week. Poland goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski was one of many World Cup bound players to be relegated with Swansea City this term. He will be in familiar company in the Championship with Bartosz Białkowski (Ipswich Town) and Kamil Grosicki (Hull City) already there. Grzegorz Krychowiak was on loan at WBA from PSG, though that deal expired at the close of the 2017/18 season.
Everton’s Idrissa Gueye and Liverpool’s Sadio Mane will be lining up for Senegal in Russia. They will be led into action by Senegalese skipper Cheikhou Kouyaté, who is tied to West Ham. Fellow midfielder Alfred N’Diaye spent last season on loan with Wolves from Villarreal, though it remains to be seen if the 28-year old will re-join Nuno Espírito Santo’s in the Premier League in August. Mame Biram Diouf and Badou Ndiaye will be Championship players next season after they were relegated with Stoke City.
Group H Premier League Player Count: 9
Read more: World Cup 2018: Taking a closer look at Colombia’s World Cup squad
Total Premier League Player Count: 105
Premier League Player Count by Nation:
England – 22
Belgium – 13
Brazil, Nigeria – 6
France, Denmark, Argentina, Serbia – 5
Germany, Spain, Portugal – 4
Colombia, Senegal, Iceland – 3
Egypt, Australia, Switzerland, South Korea, Japan – 2
Peru, Serbia, Mexico, Sweden, Tunisia, Poland, Morocco – 1
Panama, Costa Rica, Iran, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Uruguay – 0
Premier League Player Count by Club:
Man City – 17
Chelsea – 14
Tottenham Hotpsur – 12
Man Utd – 11
Leicester City – 10
Liverpool – 8
Arsenal – 7
Southampton, West Ham – 4
Everton, Huddersfield, Crystal Palace – 3
Brighton, Watford, Burnley – 2
Wolves, Newcastle, Cardiff City – 1
Bournemouth, Fulham – 0
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