Álvaro Morata has paid the price for an indifferent season at Chelsea after being left out of Spain’s 23-man World Cup squad.
The striker has become a peripheral figure at Chelsea since the January arrival of Olivier Giroud and will not be involved in Russia after the Spain coach Julen Lopetegui went with Diego Costa, Iago Aspas and Rodrigo as his strikers.
“It’s always a difficult decision,” Lopetegui said. “There wasn’t anything negative about [Morata]. But we thought there were other players in the position who could help us.”
“Best of luck in the World Cup,” Morata wrote on Twitter. “I’ll be supporting and cheering through the end, as always.”
Instead of picking a fourth striker, Lopetegui opted to take eight defenders, including Arsenal’s Nacho Monreal, the only other surprise on the list. Chelsea’s Marcos Alonso and Marc Bartra were among the defenders left out.
The squad features six players from Real Madrid and four from Barcelona. The Madrid players will report to the team’s training camp later than the other players because of their Champions League final commitments against Liverpool.
Meanwhile, England’s Group G opponents Belgium have picked Christian Benteke despite his lack of goals for Crystal Palace in their preliminary 28-man squad. The striker, who scored just three times in the Premier League last season, got the nod from Roberto Martínez while Liverpool’s Divock Origi misses out.
The Roma midfielder Radja Nainggolan reacted to missing out of the squad by announcing his international retirement.
In a message on Instagram, he wrote: “Very reluctantly my international career comes to an end…I’ve always done everything I could to represent my country Being yourself can be bothering …From this day on I will be the first fan…”
Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku and Kevin De Bruyne were all included but there was also no place in Martínez’s squad for Everton’s Kevin Mirallas.
Goalkeepers: David De Gea (Manchester United), Pepe Reina (Napoli), Kepa Arrizabalaga (Athletic Bilbao)
Defenders: Jordi Alba (Barcelona), César Azpilicueta (Chelsea), Nacho Monreal (Arsenal), Dani Carvajal (Real Madrid), Nacho Fernández (Real Madrid), Gerard Piqué (Barcelona), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Álvaro Odriozola (Real Sociedad)
Midfielders: Thiago Alcantara (Bayern Munich), Sergio Busquets (Barcelona), Andrés Iniesta (Barcelona), Jorge “Koke” Resurreccion (Atletico Madrid), Saul Ňiguez (Atletico Madrid), Marco Asensio (Real Madrid), David Silva (Manchester City), Lucas Vázquez (Real Madrid), Francisco “Isco” Alarcón (Real Madrid)
Forwards: Iago Aspas (Celta Vigo), Rodrigo (Valencia), Diego Costa (Atletico Madrid)
Goalkeepers: Thibaut Courtois (Chelsea), Simon Mignolet (Liverpool), Koen Casteels (Wolfsburg), Matz Sels (Newcastle United)
Defenders: Toby Alderweireld (Tottenham Hotspur), Dedryck Boyata (Celtic), Laurent Ciman (LAFC), Leander Dendoncker (Anderlecht), Christian Kabasele (Watford), Vincent Kompany (Manchester City), Jordan Lukaku (Lazio), Thomas Meunier (Paris Saint-Germain), Thomas Vermaelen (Barcelona), Jan Vertonghen (Tottenham Hotspur)
Midfielders: Yannick Carrasco (Dalian Yifang), Nacer Chadli (West Bromwich Albion), Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City), Mousa Dembélé (Tottenham Hotspur), Marouane Fellaini (Manchester United), Adnan Januzaj (Real Sociedad), Youri Tielemans (Monaco), Axel Witsel (Tianjin Quanjian)
Forwards: Michy Batshuayi (Chelsea), Christian Benteke (Crystal Palace), Eden Hazard (Chelsea), Thorgan Hazard (Borussia Monchengladbach), Romelu Lukaku (Manchester United), Dries Mertens (Napoli).