May 25 (Al Jazeera) – Spain football captain Sergio Ramos has been left out of the squad for Euro 2020 which will take place in June and July after being postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic last year.
The Real Madrid centre back won the last of his 180 caps in March this year but has endured an injury-plagued season that has limited him to just 15 Spanish league appearances and only five games in all competitions in 2021 – the last of which came in the club’s 2-0 Champions League semi-final second-leg defeat by Chelsea on May 5.
“I’ve not included Ramos because he’s not been able to play much this season, especially since January he’s not been fit enough, and at times not even training with the group at his club,” Enrique, who named 24 players in the 26 spots available, told a news conference on Monday.
“It wasn’t easy, but I called him last night and we had a difficult and tough conversation. I feel bad as he’s a player who has always been at the top level and has a future with the national team. It’s a decision that I’ve taken for the good of the national team and the group as a whole.”
In a statement released on his Instagram page, Ramos said: “After a few tough months and an abnormal season to any I’ve had in my career, the Euro also joins that.
“I’ve fought and worked with my body and soul to be 100 per-cent fit for Real Madrid and the national team but sometimes things don’t work out. It hurts me not to be able to help my teammates and not defend Spain.”
Ramos’s club team-mate Dani Carvajal also missed out through injury, meaning there are no Real Madrid players in the squad, while there are just three Barcelona players and two from La Liga champions Atletico Madrid.
It is the first time that a Real Madrid player has not been included in a Spain squad for a major tournament.
Enrique said the list was drawn with the team’s best interests in mind.
“I don’t play these kind of games when I do the squad and I don’t try to please anybody. I understand that everybody wants players from their club in the squad, except when they need to rest if they’re playing many games or whatever.”
Manchester City’s Aymeric Laporte was included after FIFA approved his switch from France to Spain earlier this month.
Laporte, a 26-year-old defender, was born in southwest France and was called up three times for Les Blues but never made it onto the pitch.
Luis Enrique said Laporte’s selection “has nothing to do” with the absence of Ramos.
There was a surprise recall for Chelsea defender Cesar Azpilicueta, who won the last of his 25 caps in 2018, and Atletico midfielder Marcos Llorente was included as a full-back in the squad list.
Premier League duo Thiago Alcantara and Rodrigo were included among the midfielders, alongside Sergio Busquets, Koke, Fabian Ruiz and 18-year-old Pedri.
Wolves forward Adama Traore and Paris St Germain’s Pablo Sarabia were surprise inclusions as forwards ahead of Celta Vigo’s Iago Aspas, the second-highest Spanish goalscorer in La Liga this season.
Spain have been drawn alongside Sweden, Poland and Slovakia in Group E and are aiming to improve upon the last-16 exits at Euro 2016 and the 2018 World Cup.
Goalkeepers: Unai Simon (Athletic Bilbao), David de Gea (Manchester United), Robert Sanchez (Brighton)
Defenders: Pau Torres (Villarreal), Eric Garcia (Manchester City), Aymeric Laporte (Manchester City), Diego Llorente (Leeds), Jordi Alba (Barcelona), Jose Luis Gaya (Valencia), Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea), Marcos Llorente (Atletico Madrid)
Midfielders: Sergio Busquets (Barcelona), Rodrigo (Manchester City), Thiago Alcantara (Liverpool), Pedri (Barcelona), Koke (Atletico Madrid), Fabian Ruiz (Napoli)
Forwards: Gerard Moreno (Villarreal), Ferran Torres (Manchester City), Adam Traore (Wolverhampton), Alvaro Morata (Juventus), Dani Olmo (RB Leipzig), Mikel Oyarzabal (Real Sociedad), Pablo Sarabia (Paris St Germain)