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Arsenal star picks Thiago as his favorite player in Spain; shocked to learn Liverpool midfielder not part of World Cup squad

Arsenal star surprised by Liverpool
Arsenal star surprised by Liverpool's Thiago not being named in Spain's FIFA World Cup squad.

Arsenal star Takehiro Tomiyasu was surprised to be told that Liverpool midfielder Thiago Alcantara was not named in Spain's 26-man squad for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Thiago last represented La Roja in the 2020 UEFA European Championship, where he featured for 14 minutes in the semi-final defeat against Italy. The Liverpool star scored his penalty in the shootout, but could not help his team avoid defeat.

The 46-cap Spaniard has yet to play for manager Luis Enrique's side since then. His exclusion from Spain's squad was one of the most surprising selection calls this month.

Tomiyasu, who joined Arsenal from Serie A side Bologna last summer, was asked to name his favorite Spanish national team player. He told AS TV (h/t @afstuff):

"Thiago."
Takehiro Tomiyasu names his favourite Spain national team player: “Thiago.”Journalist: “Thiago Alcantara? He’s not coming [to the World Cup].”Tomiyasu: “He’s not coming?! Sorry, I didn’t know that!”[AS] #afc https://t.co/9u1s8PABgA

He was then informed that the former Barcelona midfielder wasn't in the 2010 FIFA World Cup winner's squad in Qatar. Tomiyasu replied:

"He’s not coming?! Sorry, I didn’t know that!"

Instead, manager Luis Enrique has picked Gavi, Pedri, Koke, Rodri, Carlos Soler, Marcos Llorente, and Sergio Busquets as his midfield options.

Thiago's exclusion means one less world-class Spanish player for Japan to worry about when the two teams face each other on 1 December. Group E also consists of Germany and Costa Rica, who would both fancy their qualification chances.

Tomiyasu will hope that the Samurai Blue can consecutively qualify from the World Cup group stage for the first time in their nation's history. They made it to the last 16 of the 2018 edition, only to lose 3-2 to Belgium in spectacular fashion.

Both Spain and Japan will be in action on 23 November. The former face Costa Rica after the latter's high-profile encounter with Germany.

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Liverpool defender starts ahead of Arsenal's William Saliba in France's World Cup opener

After Presnel Kimpembe's Achilles injury, Liverpool's Ibrahima Konate and Arsenal centre-back William Saliba were in contention to take his place in the starting XI.

Saliba, along with Tomiyasu, has starred in manager Mikel Arteta's Arsenal team, which sits at the top of the Premier League table after 15 games. He has played in 22 games across competitions this campaign and has earned his place in manager Didier Deschamps' squad.

But he was left on the bench as France beat Australia 4-1 in their opening 2022 FIFA World Cup match on 22 November. Liverpool's Konate started alongside Dayot Upamecano in defense and played the full 90 minutes.

Saliba, meanwhile, was an unused substitute. It remains to be seen if Deschamps will stick with this new defensive pairing, or if he will revert to starting Raphael Varane at the back.

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Edited by Sankalp Srivastava
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