The groans could be heard all across the country and social media. Aaron Wan-Bissaka had been left out of the England squad, and the outrage was felt everywhere.
The superstar defender, who has been a breakout success for Palace has this season has statistically and stylistically, was heavily tipped to be in Gareth Southgate’s latest England squad for upcoming EURO 2020 qualifiers against the Czech Republic and Montenegro. However, the 21-year-old fullback was omitted from the squad.
Kyle Walker, Kieran Trippier and Trent Alexander-Arnold were selected as England’s right-backs for the March international break causing cries of outrage from Palace fans as well as supporters from other teams due to the absence of Wan-Bissaka.
This season Wan-Bissaka has been one of the most defensively efficient players in not just the Premier League but in all of Europe. Recent statistics show that the Croydon-born Palace man has had the most successful tackles (71) out of anyone in the top five leagues on the continent this campaign, five more than Leicester midfielder Wilfred Ndidi who resides in the second spot on the list.
The England U-21 international has also been linked with a big money move to Manchester United this season, with the Red Devils eager to strengthen their defence and replace club veteran Antonio Valencia.
Wan-Bissaka has been a star in the Prem this season, but is he really ready for international football?
If there’s anything we’ve learnt about Southgate and his England squads is that he is loyal to certain players and that he favours those who have been through the England international setup.
Although Wan-Bissaka has been great this season and will likely flourish into one of the best right-backs in the league, it is understandable why Southgate didn’t select him for this international break.
The defender has only represented England on four occasions at youth level, and this was after he played for the DR Congo’s U-20’s when he was only 16-years-old, a nation he is legible to play for through family, and there are rumours that the African nation might swoop in and take Wan-Bissaka right from Southgate’s nose.
Whether or not Wan-Bissaka chooses England or DR Congo is a debate for another time, but the fact still stands that the Palace defender just isn’t ready for international football.
Look at Alexander-Arnold as a case study on how to get in the England squad. The Liverpool right-back might be a year younger than Wan-Bissaka, but the Merseyside-born defender has been part of the Three Lions international set-up since he was 15-years-old, representing every level of England from the U-16’s all the way to the U-21’s and now a part of the senior squad.
It’s this kind of experience Southgate wants from his players, meaning it will take a while for the Palace man to earn a spot in the England squad. But this waiting isn’t a bad thing.
Wan-Bissaka is still young at 21 and has played a lot of games this season, and this international break not only allow the defender to get some well-earned rest, but it’s also two games missed where the Palace star could pick up an injury, which would derail Roy Hodgson’s plans for his side this season massively.
There’s no question Wan-Bissaka is one of the brightest English defensive prospects to emerge in years, and although his omission from the latest England squad might be seen as harsh, Southgate has so far approached team selections in the right manner, and it will pay off in the future.
Crystal Palace fans, when do you think Wan-Bassaka will break into the England squad?