Belgium Announces World Cup Squad

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Associated Press

Belgium has announced their official World Cup squad and surprisingly Radja Nainggolan has been left off the team.

Belgium’s preliminary World Cup squad includes the likes of Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku and Kevin De Bruyne, but national team coach Roberto Martinez chose not to include  Nainggolan.

“Very reluctantly my international career comes to an end,” Nainggolan wrote on Instagram following the official announcement of the squad members.

“I’ve always done everything I could to represent my country. Being yourself can be bothering. From this day on I will be the first fan.”

“It’s a tactical reason,” Martinez said at a news conference about his decisions.

“Over the last two years, we have worked in a very attacking way, a very specific system and manner, and other players had those roles. Radja has a very important role in his club, and I don’t feel we can give him that in the national team. He’s not a player to be used in a small role.”

“I respect Radja,” Martinez said. “He’s not a young player. He’s got great experience. I value his opinion.

“I didn’t tell him he wasn’t in the squad. I travelled to share some thoughts and the decision was made after the meeting. I was able to look into his eyes. It was a difficult conversation to have. I appreciate his honesty. I was glad to be able to see him before I made a decision.”

Belgium’s 28-player squad

Goalkeepers: Thibaut Courtois (Chelsea), Simon Mignolet (Liverpool), Koen Casteels (Wolfsburg), Matz Sels (Newcastle United)

Defenders: Toby Alderweireld (Tottenham Hotspur), Dedryck Boyata (Celtic), Laurent Ciman (LAFC), Leander Dendoncker (Anderlecht), Christian Kabasele (Watford), Vincent Kompany (Manchester City), Jordan Lukaku (Lazio), Thomas Meunier (Paris Saint-Germain), Thomas Vermaelen (Barcelona), Jan Vertonghen (Tottenham Hotspur)

Midfielders: Yannick Carrasco (Dalian Yifang), Nacer Chadli (West Bromwich Albion), Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City), Mousa Dembele (Tottenham Hotspur), Marouane Fellaini (Manchester United), Adnan Januzaj (Real Sociedad), Youri Tielemans (Monaco), Axel Witsel (Tianjin Quanjian)

Forwards: Michy Batshuayi (Chelsea), Christian Benteke (Crystal Palace), Eden Hazard (Chelsea), Thorgan Hazard (Borussia Monchengladbach), Romelu Lukaku (Manchester United), Dries Mertens (Napoli)