Eden Hazard

The 2022 FIFA World Cup is right around the corner. It is football’s showpiece event and the 2022 FIFA World Cup will kick off on November 20. Top national teams across the world will battle it out for football’s biggest prize and it will feature most of the best players in the game as well.

We have consistently seen new stars emerge onto the scene at the World Cup. We’re familiar with the top players on the domestic circuit, but football’s biggest stage offers them a different sort of opportunity to make a mark. Quite a few players play a more significant role for their respective national teams than they do for their clubs.

The biggest clubs in Europe have an array of quality players. As a result, there are several top players who end up having to warm the bench for their respective clubs. But their respective national teams may not be all that rich when it comes to their squad depth.

Without further ado, let’s take a look at five players who are important to their national teams but not for their clubs.

#5 Christian Pulisic (Chelsea/USMNT)

‘Captain America’ Christian Pulisic has endured a difficult time at Chelsea since joining the club in 2019. He has struggled for game time and was keen to leave the club this summer. The 23-year-old is an exciting winger with all the attributes that could make him a dangerous proposition for any defense in Europe.

However, his inconsistency has cost him dearly in recent seasons. The US international has started just one Premier League game for the Blues so far this term. He started just 13 league matches in the 2021-22 season.

However, Pulisic is one of USMNT’s most important players. He is an electrifying presence down the flanks for them. In 51 appearances across all competitions for the US national team, he has scored 21 goals and provided 12 assists.

#4 Frenkie de Jong (Barcelona/Netherlands)

Frenkie de Jong is an incredibly talented midfielder. However, he has lost his status as an automatic starter for Barcelona in recent times. De Jong was involved in a protracted transfer saga this summer as the Catalans attempted to offload him.

Barcelona even agreed a deal worth €85 million with Manchester United for the 25-year-old, according to The Athletic. However, he refused to leave the club. De Jong has since been played out of position at centre-back.

The Blaugrana have a lot of talented young players in midfield and De Jong has now fallen behind the likes of Sergio Busquets, Pedri, Gavi and Franck Kessie in the pecking order. He has started just one La Liga game for Barcelona so far this season.

However, he is the Netherlands’ midfield lynchpin. De Jong is one of their most important players heading into the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

#3 Eden Hazard (Real Madrid/Belgium)

Eden Hazard’s dream move to Real Madrid has not worked out to anyone’s liking. He is Real Madrid’s most expensive signing of all time, having cost them €115 million in the summer of 2019.

In 69 appearances for Los Blancos across all competitions so far, Hazard has scored just seven goals and provided 11 assists. At club level, he is a shadow of the player who used to tear it up in the Premier League for Chelsea just a few years back.

However, Hazard continues to be an important player for Belgium. He continues to be a starter for the Belgian national team. Meanwhile, he is yet to start a La Liga game for Real Madrid in the 2022-23 season.

#2 Memphis Depay (Barcelona/Netherlands)

Memphis Depay is a dynamic centre-forward. He possesses plenty of pace and is excellent in a technical sense as well. Depay joined Barcelona on a free transfer in the summer of 2021. His involvement in his debut season at the Camp Nou was limited due to multiple injuries.

As a result, Barcelona were forced to sign Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the 2022 January transfer window. They subsequently roped in Robert Lewandowski this summer. Additionally, they also have players like Raphinha, Ousmane Dembele, Ansu Fati and Ferran Torres on the wings.

Although Aubameyang left the club and joined Chelsea in the summer, Depay continues to be a benchwarmer. He is yet to play a single minute for Barcelona in La Liga so far this term. However, he spearheads the attack for the Netherlands national team and has been phenomenal for them in recent times.

In 80 appearances across all competitions for the Dutch national team, the 28-year-old has scored 42 goals and provided 30 assists. Depay is likely to play a huge role for the Dutch national team at the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

#1 Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United/Portugal)

Cristiano Ronaldo is the all-time leading goalscorer in men’s international football. He has scored 117 goals in 189 appearances for Portugal in his career, which is 31 more than Lionel Messi, who has the second highest number of goals among active players.

Ronaldo was arguably Manchester United’s most important player in the 2021-22 season. He scored 24 goals and provided three assists in 38 appearances across all competitions for the Red Devils last term. The 37-year-old was named the ‘Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year’ at the end of the 2021-22 season.

However, Ronaldo desperately tried to engineer an exit from the club in search of Champions League football this summer. He missed pre-season and is no longer the club’s first-choice centre-forward. Ronaldo has started just one Premier League game for Manchester United so far this season.

He has been used as a substitute in all the other games. Ronaldo, however, continues to be a vital cog for Portugal on the international front. He is their first-choice centre-forward and is expected to make a mark at the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

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