134 Premier League players are heading to World Cup 2022. In fact, 20% of all the players at the tournament ply their trade in England, with a further 29 in the Championship or below – and outside of the England squad, there are 109 overseas internationals who play Prem football.
So we wondered exactly which players could be set for a long few weeks and which ones will be coming back fresher. There’s no way to tell for sure, of course – but ranking every team in the competition by their odds, from bookies’ favourites Brazil to least favourites Costa Rica is a good way to guess. Assuming Brazil play seven games, the second-favourites France also play seven, we can work down the list and assign nations a set number of games to expect.
Netherlands, for example, are seventh-favourites – so we expect them to reach the quarter-finals and play five matches. It’s not an exact science – and of course, some players are going to play more matches than others. But by tallying which squads have which clubs’ players, here’s who you can expect to come back to the Premier League freshest to least fresh when all of this is over.
Every Premier League club ranked by how many World Cup games their players could play
FFT’s xGames (expected games) tally: 6
Bournemouth still haven’t hired a permanent manager following Scott Parker’s sacking after just three matches – but if someone comes in right now, they’ll basically get a full squad to work with, aside from two internationals.
The Cherries’ only picks to go to Qatar were Chris Mepham and Kieffer Moore from Wales. Jefferson Lerma may have gone, too, had Colombia made the tournament but given that the likes of Lewis Cook, Dominic Solanke and Marcus Tavernier aren’t on the England radar, fans will be happy to see stars getting some rest over the next few weeks.
19. Crystal Palace: 7
FFT’s xGames (expected games) tally: 7
Wilf Zaha won’t be going to the World Cup, since Ivory Coast aren’t there. Marc Guehi was a massive miss from the England squad, while Tyrick Mitchell didn’t make it either and Ebere Eze is only knocking on the door for a call-up.
That leaves just Joachim Andersen of Denmark and Jordan Ayew of Ghana flying the Eagles’ nest for Qatar. Patrick Vieira won’t have to worry too much about injuries.
FFT’s xGames (expected games) tally: 8
Southampton are another team with just two players heading to Qatar – and one of them might not even get on the pitch.
Ghanian Mohammed Salisu and 20-year-old German defensive partner Armel Bella-Kotchap will both be at the World Cup. Southampton rank higher than Bournemouth or Palace in our list due to Germany’s higher status as favourites – but new manager Nathan Jones might get his players back fresher than anyone come Christmas.
17: Leeds United
FFT’s xGames (expected games) tally: 10
Rasmus Kristensen is expected to make a quarter-final with Denmark but USA duo Tyler Adams and Brendan Aaronson are likely to crash out in the group stage.
That’s good news for Jesse Marsch in a way, as he won’t have to stress about two key players for him this season. Still, a proud American will surely be sad to see the stars and stripes head out early. Swings and roundabouts.
16. Aston Villa
FFT’s xGames (expected games) tally: 14
Neither Danny Ings nor Ollie Watkins got the England call. Philippe Coutinho was omitted from Brazil’s squad, Tyrone Mings missed out after going to Euro 2020 and John McGinn’s Scotland won’t be in Qatar.
Of Villa’s World Cup stars, Emiliano Martinez is expected to go the furthest with Argentina and may well play a full seven games at the tournament. Leander Dendoncker may go deep with Belgium, while less is expected of Matty Cash and Jan Bednarek’s Poland.
FFT’s xGames (expected games) tally: 18
Think of Fulham internationals and you’re perhaps conjuring the image of Aleksandar Mitrovic, who Cottagers hope will come home early and rest that injured foot until Boxing Day. Still, he might not be their most-played star at the World Cup.
Joao Palhinha could feasibly form a midfield partnership with Ruben Neves and play the majority of the tournament for Portugal. The Whites also have a few stars in the USA –Tim Ream and Antonee Robinson – and Wales – Harry Wilson and Dan James – squads to look out for.
FFT’s xGames (expected games) tally: 19
No, Brentford do not make up the entirety of the Denmark squad (well, not quite). They have three Danes going to Qatar, though, so that’s potentially 12 games to tally up.
Elsewhere, David Raya is going as Unai Simon’s understudy in the Spain goal, while Cameroon are taking Bryan Mbeumo and Iran Saman Ghoddos. Any more than three games each for either will be surprising, mind.
13. Newcastle United
FFT’s xGames (expected games) tally: 20
It’s testament to Newcastle’s rise in the past year that there are now key Magpies in international line-ups. Perhaps the Toon would be higher on this list yet if the 2022 tournament featured Alexander Isak’s Sweden or Miguel Almiron’s Paraguay – or if Sven Botman hadn’t been bizarrely overlooked for the Netherlands.
Newcastle have two England stars in Kieran Trippier and Nick Pope, while Bruno Guimaraes is expected to venture far with Brazil. That takes Eddie Howe’s men pretty far up this list with FFT expecting Fabian Schar to tick over four games with Switzerland.
=11. West Ham United
FFT’s xGames (expected games) tally: 22
West Ham have a big name in a fair few big hitters’ rosters: Declan Rice for England, Lucas Paqueta for Brazil, Alphonse Areola for France and Thilo Kehrer for Germany.
Along with those four, Nayef Aguerd of Morocco is also heading to Qatar. There’s a good chance that he’ll return home first but only Rice is a nailed-on starter of the Irons’ internationals.
FFT’s xGames (expected games) tally: 22
Jordan Pickford is expected to be England’s No.1 in Qatar, though Conor Coady probably won’t feature. Amadou Onana of Belgium could go far, too, though.
Aside from them, Idrissa Gueye is in Senegal’s squad. There is another Everton at the tournament, but that’s Everton Ribeiro in the Brazil squad. We’ve not counted him.
=9. Nottingham Forest
FFT’s xGames (expected games) tally: 25
Three Nottingham Forest stars are expected to start for Wales. Wayne Hennessey may be the Tricky Trees’ back-up but he’s Wales’ No.1, while Neco Williams and Brennan Johnson are both starters, too.
Elsewhere, Remo Freuler might get game-time for the Swiss, while Cheikhou Kouyate is in the Senegal squad. Neither are tipped for huge things, mind.
=9. Leicester City
FFT’s xGames (expected games) tally: 25
The big news for Leicester City fans is that James Maddison is in the England squad. The clamour to see Madders on the world stage may well reach fever pitch, should the Three Lions need a little creativity – though there are other Foxes out in Qatar, too.
Youri Tielemans may well play seven games this time if Belgium get to the semi-finals (third-placed play-off, you see). Wout Faes and Timothy Castagne are in the Red Devils’ group, while Daniel Amartey is in Ghana’s squad, Nampalys Mendy in Senegal’s and Danny Ward has been called up by Wales.
8. Wolverhampton Wanderers
FFT’s xGames (expected games) tally: 29
Three Portugal World Cup stars play for Wolves. For context, that’s as many as Benfica and Porto – and three more than Sporting.
The Selecao are expected to reach the quarters by the bookies, making that five games each for Ruben Neves, Jose Sa and Matheus Nunes. Hwang Hee-chan of South Korea and Raul Jimenez of Mexico are Wolves’ other World Cup stars.
8. Brighton & Hove Albion
FFT’s xGames (expected games) tally: 31
Incredibly, there are more Brighton players in Ecuador’s squad than any other club. Pervis Estupinan, Jeremy Sarmiento and Moises Caicedo are all down to play just three games by our calculation – but it all adds up.
Leandro Trossard brings Brighton’s tally right up with Belgium predicted to do well by the bookies – as does Alexis Mac Allister of Argentina. Robert Sanchez is going with Spain, Kaoru Mitoma with Japan and Tariq Lamptey with Ghana. It’s testament to what a fine job the Seagulls do in finding top talents under the radar.
FFT’s xGames (expected games) tally: 37
Surprisingly low? Perhaps. But remember, Mohamed Salah didn’t qualify for the World Cup, Diogo Jota is out injured and Roberto Firmino wasn’t selected by Brazil. That’s without touching on why Andy Robertson, Joel Matip or Joe Gomez aren’t going. There was talk at one stage of Trent Alexander-Arnold missing out.
Alisson and Fabinho of Brazil bump the Reds’ tally up significantly, though, while Hendo and Trent are expected to reach the semis by the bookies. Add in Darwin Nunez and Virgil van Dijk and though Liverpool might not have as many World Cup stars as you’d first realise, they have a few key men for their countries at least.
5. Tottenham Hotspur
FFT’s xGames (expected games) tally: 50
England hopes that Harry Kane will play all seven games for his country. But aside from the England captain – and club-mate Eric Dier – Tottenham have a lot of internationals.
Hugo Lloris is in goal for France once more, predicted to play another seven games – as are Brazil and Argentina, who have called up Richarlison and Cristian Romero respectively. Ivan Perisic is key for Croatia, Son Heung-min will be integral to South Korea and Rodrigo Bentancur may well take Uruguay into the knockouts. Pape Matar Sarr of Senegal, Ben Davies of Wales, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg of Denmark are also there.
FFT’s xGames (expected games) tally: 55
Arsenal may have a lot of internationals at the World Cup… but how many will start? Gabriels Martinelli and Jesus are competing for Brazil spots, William Saliba has just seven France caps, while Ben White and Aaron Ramsdale may not even feature for England.
Of their internationals, Three Lions winger Bukayo Saka, Swiss captain Granit Xhaka, Ghana star Thomas Partey, US No.1 Matt Turner and Japan defender Takehiro Tomiyasu are all shoo-ins to play. So while the Gunners have 10 players at the tournament – and a few of them for big-name nations – don’t be surprised if they don’t come back too tired in December.
FFT’s xGames (expected games) tally: 56
Chelsea have 12 squad members out at the World Cup. Most of them are key stars for their nations: Senegal’s Edouard Mendy and Kalidou Koulibaly, for example, England’s Raheem Sterling and Mason Mount, America’s Christian Pulisic, Germany’s Kai Havertz, Croatia’s Mateo Kovacic, Morocco’s Hakim Ziyech and Brazil’s Thiago Silva.
On top of those, there are a few squad players heading to Qatar, too. Conor Gallagher might not get many England minutes – perhaps Cesar Azpilicueta with Spain and Denis Zakaria with Switzerland won’t either – but there’s a chance that Blues could dominate this tournament.
2. Manchester United
FFT’s xGames (expected games) tally: 77
Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw are sure starters for England with Marcus Rashford in reserve. For Brazil, Casemiro and Fred may well start with Antony on the bench while for Portugal, Cristiano Ronaldo and Bruno Fernandes are expected to play with Diogo Dalot a squad option.
It shows the incredible depth of Manchester United’s squad, still, despite how badly some fans are pining for a rebuild. Argentina’s Lisandro Martinez and Netherlands’ Tyrell Malacia are both expected to do well at this tournament, as are Christian Eriksen of Denmark and Raphael Varane of France. Facundo Pellistri, just 20 years old, is going with Uruguay, too.
1. Manchester City
FFT’s xGames (expected games) tally: 92
16 Manchester City players are going to Qatar, more than any other English side and just one fewer than Bayern Munich, who are sending more than any club in the world. Of those 16, five are in the England squad – and all of Kyle Walker, John Stones, Jack Grealish, Kalvin Phillips and Phil Foden could be key for the Three Lions.
The favourites for the title all have City stars, too. Julian Alvarez is going with Argentina, Ilkay Gundogan with Germany, Rodri and Aymeric Laporte with Spain, Kevin De Bruyne with Belgium, Joao Cancelo, Ruben Dias and Bernardo Silva with Portugal and Ederson with Brazil. Even Manuel Akanji of Switzerland is expected to get to the knockouts. Talk about a wealth of talent…