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If you could reassign 1 player to a new World Cup team, who would you pick?

Lionel Messi’s team stinks, so let’s give him a new one. Plus a dozen other wonderful possibilities.

When a national team has a bad mix of players, it can’t just go out and sign a new one. To some, this is why international soccer is great, and it’s what makes the World Cup special. Other people, like me, are thoroughly annoyed by watching the best player in the world attempt to drag some absolute jokers to a title, then get yelled at by his fans for not pulling it off.

For that reason, we asked the fine people of Twitter which player they’d like to reassign to a new national team. I’ll go first, with one of many Lionel Messi responses.

The Messi vs. Cristiano Ronaldo debate would come to its logical conclusion: They win a World Cup on the same team, and therefore it can never be settled.

Here are the other Messi answers.

The most obvious one, Messi’s spiritual footballing home. Spain runs away with the World Cup in this scenario.

I have NO IDEA what England would do with Messi. In their current system, they’d have to drop Raheem Sterling to make it work. If Gareth Southgate wants them both on the pitch, he’d probably have to completely re-work his system and go to a 4-2-3-1, which doesn’t fit his current personnel as well. I don’t doubt Messi makes England better, but fitting him in is a puzzle. It might take years to get it right.

Yeah, just drop one of the two strikers to the bench and give Messi a second striker/No. 10 free role. They dominate the group. Honestly, Senegal has a better squad than Argentina minus Messi.

This is sort of an entry into the Messi answers, though it does not include Messi himself. I’m not actually sure this is the right choice to help Messi? Javier Mascherano is really good. I feel like a center back or all-around No. 8 helps this team more. What they really need is Paul Pogba, which no one suggested.

OK, let’s get into the Ronaldo section.

I actually don’t like this very much? I think Gabriel Jesus is a really good fit for Brazil. Having to re-work a team so Neymar and Ronaldo both fit sounds like a nightmare that would take months of training and experimenting at club level. I don’t think a national team could pull it off in a couple weeks.

Striker is Australia’s weakest position and I think this would make the Socceroos good enough to get out of their group.

... Hmm. HMMMMMM. Ronaldo up top, Griezmann out left? I think this can work.

OK, now to the other stuff.


Sorry, here are some better answers.

Hell yeah. Salah and Mane back together at national team level on a super fun and fast team would be awesome. And Mo deserves so much better than Egypt.

I had high hopes for Timo Werner but he looked way out of it against Mexico. I think this would improve them a lot, but there’s a better Germany answer ...

Hell yeah. If this happens, Germany wins the tournament going away.


I love David Silva, but this is a bad idea. France already refuses to play its actual wide players and just clogs the center.

Yes. Switzerland has a bunch of foul machines and was somehow able to manipulate the ref in the Brazil game into under-carding them too, so Costa will fit right in.

Oh that’s delicious.

I had to look up who Colombia started next to Carlos Sanchez in midfield, which reflects poorly on both me and that person, Jefferson Lerna. Yes, I absolutely want to see Toni Kroos in the Colombia midfield.

Man, I really thought Ayoub El Kaabi was good. Morocco probably has four points with a creative false nine of Dybala’s quality, maybe even six. This would be really cool but I’m also now very sad thinking about Morocco being out of the tournament.

Why? Why would you take one of the most technically skilled players in the tournament and put him on a team that wants to have 30 percent possession and chase the ball? I’m disgusted.

An obvious answer, culturally and tactically. I can’t decide if it’s better than the Suarez answer though. I feel like Germany could really benefit from Suarez’s mobility and general dickishness.

Modrić is basically “what if Joao Moutinho was a little better at everything,” so this answer kicks ass.

And finally, my favorite answer.


If you have any more suggestions, leave ‘em in the comments.