Sometimes, for whatever reason, a player is more comfortable playing for their national team than their club.
Yes, they can only get a handful of games a year compared to the endless cycle of club football, but the national team can offer a change of style, formation and a positive impact on some in the group.
With the 2022 World Cup on the horizon, there may be concerns that a lack of playing time or facility in a club team could affect a player’s chances of impressing in Qatar. But fear not, these six players will perform well when they don the national team jersey.
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While he shone brightly in his early days at Chelsea — scoring nine goals in his first season in the Premier League — the USMNT captain’s development has somewhat stagnated as far as his club career is concerned. After being largely ignored by Thomas Tuchel last season — he didn’t last long in his preferred role on the left side of midfield — the arrival of new manager Graham Potter could be a new beginning or the beginning of the end. For his Chelsea career.
For his country, however, Pulisic has continued to excel (he has 21 goals and 12 assists in 51 games, and few ever expected more), his latest best hour being a hat-trick against Panama in March. His club form so far this season raises some concerns — he’s yet to feature more than an hour in any contest — but he should still retain his spot as captain of the U.S. team for the World Cup.
Despite not making himself indispensable at Manchester United, Fred is still an integral part of Tide’s Brazil midfield. Now in his fifth Premier League season, with more than 100 games to his name, the left-footed defensive midfielder has rarely produced consistent runs beyond the occasional spark of his undeniable talent. Often looking uncomfortable or one-dimensional in possession and hesitant in his pressing game at club level, the 29-year-old plays with more confidence for Brazil.
Usually in a sitting role alongside new club teammate Casemiro, Fred tends to keep a simple brief on international duty — usually creating a stable, balanced presence with the occasional license to get forward. Although not lacking in effort, he sometimes seems to run out of ideas when on the ball for United (although he showed signs of improving his attacking contributions during the second half of last campaign), whereas he is clearly progressing. role for his country.
Even during his periods without scoring for Chelsea, Werner kept turning up for Germany. Although never lacking in movement, utility and energy, Werner’s consistency in front of goal came under scrutiny during his poor spell in London, finding the net just 10 times from 56 league appearances. However, for Germany, his goalscoring record is against some of the best players internationally, with 24 from 53 matches.
After moving to the Bundesliga to rejoin RB Leipzig for €30 million in the summer, Werner has mysteriously struggled to convert opportunities at club level; His current tally stands at just one goal from six league games (he scored a hat-trick in the DFF-Pokal game.) A predominantly movement-based forward who thrives in space, it’s no wonder his Chelsea coaches craved it. Play him in a wider role (so further away from goal), but in the Germany team he is usually deployed at centre-forward, where he is their most consistent goal threat.
Although his minute tally for Real Madrid — which now stands at 98 from three games — appears to be dwindling by the month, the former Chelsea forward looks set to play a key role for Belgium at the World Cup. Indeed, Belgium head coach Roberto Martinez seems happy to field Hazard as one of two No.10s alongside Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne and, despite his injury, has continued to play him even when games come thick and fast. (He also featured in Belgium’s four Nations League matches in June.)
Despite being used sparingly at club level, Hazard (33 goals from 120 internationals to his name) has proved decisive for Real Madrid recently, scoring a goal and an assist for the European champions in the second half against Celtic. His creativity, experience and quality on the ball could yet become the deciding factor for Belgium in Qatar.
Not only did Debay maintain his best form for the Netherlands amid a period of personal uncertainty at Barcelona, he was his country’s best player throughout the entire World Cup qualifying campaign. With nine goals from as many games, Depay’s contribution helped the Netherlands book their World Cup ticket and he also impressed in the Nations League in June.
Debe may have recently regained some confidence from Barca boss Xavi, who remained at the Camp Nou despite offers elsewhere at the end of the transfer window, but given the club’s general desire to let him go in the summer, the majority seems to have appeared. His playing time is coming from his home country. As the only player in the Dutch squad to reach the double figures (a respectable 42 from 80 games), his experience and skill will be key to their hopes.
Previously one of the most prolific midfielders in Serie A with Udinese (34 goals and 36 assists in 184 games), De Paul has grabbed fewer headlines after a €35 million move to Atletico Madrid in 2021. , he has yet to find a regular place this season with just one goal and eight appearances.
However, De Paul’s starting spot for Argentina does not appear to be in question (A court battle with his ex-wife complicated mattersIndividuals embroiled in legal disputes may be denied entry to Qatar.) From a more advanced central midfield role in Argentina’s set-up, he has the freedom to make his trademark runs into space and into goal-scoring positions.