United’s Garnacho among break-out stars missing from FIFA Under-20 World Cup

 Some of the best young players in world football will not be playing in the U-20s World Cup in Argen­tina later this month, with clubs reluctant to release them before the end of the season.

FIFA took the decision to stage the tournament outside the international window, before most European domestic seasons have been completed. That means clubs are not obliged under the rules to release players for their countries.

The tournament, which has included the likes of Diego Ma­radona, Lionel Messi and Erling Haaland in the past, will now kick off on May 20 with many of the biggest stars missing.

FIFA has told Sky Sports News that this World Cup is being staged at a similar time in the calendar to its predecessors, and that the world governing body had little choice but to run it outside of the inter­national window, while trying to avoid clashes with other summer tournaments.

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The Women’s World Cup, Men’s U-21s Euros, Men’s and Women’s U-17s Euros are all scheduled between May and July.

It is understood that the FA, along with a number of other European associations, asked FIFA whether they could make an exception to their rules, and allow squad changes based on availabili­ty, up to the tournament kick-off.

But FIFA rejected those re­quests, saying that fairness to all countries is key, and that theirs is an important principle that only allows squad changes because of injury, up to the eve of the first game.

The U-20s World Cup has been dogged by politics and compli­cations. FIFA stripped Indonesia of the tournament six weeks ago, after protests in the country against Israel being involved in the competition. Argentina stepped in as new hosts a few days’ later.

Sky Sports News has learned England’s U-20s manager, Ian Foster, delayed the announcement of his squad, which was due on Wednesday, by 24 hours while he continued to negotiate with clubs across Europe.

The England squad – named on Thursday – is missing players such as Rico Lewis (Manchester City), Lewis Hall (Chelsea), Jamie Bynoe-Gittins (Borussia Dort­mund) and Samuel Illung-Junior (Juventus).

Other big names who won’t be at the FIFA showpiece include Manchester United’s Alejandro Garnacho (Argentina), Chelsea’s Malo Gusto (France), Brighton’s Facundo Bounanotte (Argentina) and Sunderland’s Edouard Michut (France).

Arsenal’s Marquinhos, who spent the second half of the season on loan at Norwich, is included in Brazil’s squad, while Huddersfield’s Etienne Camara features has been included in the France squad.

England won the U-20s World Cup for the first time in 2017, with a squad that included Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Dean Henderson, Fikayo Tomori, Ainsley Mait­land-Niles and Dominic Solanke. — Sky Sports

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