Fernando Santos has insisted that Cristiano Ronaldo is the only player guaranteed a place in his 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ squad and that he won’t pick those who helped Portugal win the latest UEFA EURO for sentimental reasons.
The likes of Nelson Semedo, Joao Cancelo, Bernardo Silva, Gelson Martins, Rony Lopes and Andre Silva – now with Barcelona, Inter Milan, Manchester City, Sporting, Monaco and AC Milan respectively – missed out on France 2016.
“I don’t know if he will go or not,” Santos told A Bola of Eder, whose goal won Portugal the EURO final but has won just one cap since 2016. “I do know that he, or any other EURO champion, will not be called up for sentimental reasons.
“There are several players who were in France that, for several reasons, wouldn’t be now. Vieirinha, for example, is having a good season and, at present, is out of the squad. There are other cases, such as Gelson and Bernardo, who weren’t in France.
“I can’t be sentimental to the point of picking players because of what they did [at EURO 2016]. I know that picking the final 23 is like doing a puzzle.
“I don’t have a debt to them. I do have an enormous sense of gratitude to the European champions. I credit them and even some players who didn’t make it to France and that I will not forget.
“But there is only one unquestionable, which is Cristiano. I will say that, yes, some other names are almost guaranteed to be in the final 23.”
Portugal face Spain, Morocco and Iran in Group B at Russia 2018.
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