The transfer window has closed and the season is up and running at full pace. Club football has come to a halt as the first international break of the season has arrived. While often frowned upon by fans due to the number of pointless friendlies and "boring" qualifiers, it's still a period of great importance for national teams.
Players who are looking to represent their nation and hoping to do well in their country's colors see this as a glorious opportunity. Players earning their first cap is also something that's looked forward to eagerly in these rounds of games. There are young players performing well and catching their manager's eye on one side and veterans still waiting to wear their country's crest proudly on the other.
Let's look at five such players who earned their first national cap over the international break.
#5 Carlos Soler
Carlos Soler is the latest to don Spain's colors as he made a spectacular start to his international career. Having been called up to the Spain squad for their qualifiers, Soler had the perfect start. He scored in his first two matches against Sweden and Georgia. The midfielder, who is a regular at club level for Valencia, has also had a blistering start to the season scoring in all three of their games.
Soler has been at Valencia all his life, joining as an under-8 and going on to make his senior debut in 2016. He's already amassed over 150 appearances for the club in which he has 26 goals and 26 assists, becoming an important player for the team. He had an impressive 20/21 season where he racked up 21 goal contributions. Soler was also part of Spain's Olympic team that ended up with a silver medal.
The 24-year-old started all three of Spain's most recent internationals, scoring in their 2-1 loss versus Sweden and 4-0 rout of Georgia. He was also a bright spark against Kosovo. The midfielder was handed the no.10 at Valencia this season and will be hoping to keep up this wonderful run of form for as long as possible.
The possibility of him moving away in the near future also looks very real with clubs like Liverpool and Real Madrid already on the radar. For now Soler and Valencia are in a good place and fans will definitely hope he stays there for a long time.
#4 Patrick Bamford
Patrick Bamford has definitely caught everyone's attention with his breakthrough season at Leeds United. The striker scored 17 goals in his first full Premier League season, helping Leeds to a top-half finish last year. He was awfully close to being selected in England's Euro squad but missed out eventually.
The 28-year-old had been called up to Gareth Southgate's side for the World Cup qualifiers before finally making his senior England debut against Andorra.
After being on the bench for England's 4-0 victory against Hungary in Budapest, Bamford was named in the starting lineup for the next match against Andorra. Bamford has made several appearances for England in the youth ranks, starting from under-18. He was initially capped by Ireland at U18 level before changing his allegiance.
The Leeds striker will definitely feel it as deserving as he has been exceptional at club level for 2-3 years now.
"It's a special moment for him and for his family. You always think about the people that have helped you on that journey,” Southgate spoke ahead of the match against Andorra at his press conference.
"We just want him to go and enjoy his football. It's an opportunity and he shouldn't put any more pressure on himself than that. We know what he's capable of and we're looking forward to seeing him play."
#3 Aurélien Tchouaméni
Monaco's Aurélien Tchouaméni is the latest to represent France on the international stage, featuring in all three of their most recent qualifiers. While France had a couple of disappointing draws against Bosnia and Herzegovina and Ukraine, Tchouaméni was one of their bright spots. The defensive midfielder had a brilliant season with Monaco last year and even made the Ligue 1 team of the season.
Tchouaméni has already represented France at the under-21 Euros and has shown no difficulties making the shift to senior football. The 21 year old told TF1:
"I felt comfortable against Ukraine, thanks to my team-mates and the coach. The blue shirt is obviously something different. It's a different world and not the same as club football. The whole nation is behind us and of course it makes me proud to wear the shirt."
Having come through the youth ranks at Bordeaux, he was signed by Monaco in January 2020. Under the guidance of Niko Kovac, he has really blossomed, becoming a vital part of the Monaco side.
A very powerful yet technically sound player, Tchouaméni has just two goals to his name even though the people around him expect that number to grow in the years to come.
His phenomenal rise over the past year has led to strong interest from Chelsea in the summer. It won't be long until one of the big clubs decides to swoop in on his talents. Keeping up these consistent performances, he could also have a serious chance of making Didier Deschamps squad for next year's World Cup.