Martinez leaves out Nainggolan for “tactical reasons”

The Belgian national football team coach Roberto Martinez has made his pre-selection of 28 players for this summer’s World Cup in Russia. The final selection of 23 players will be announced on 4 June. The most talked about decision by the Red Devils’ Spanish coach is the leaving out of AS Rome’s midfielder Radja Nainggolan.

It had been thought that Roberto Martinez would announce which 23 Belgian players would be going to the World Cup. However, the final decision won’t now be taken until after Belgium’s friendly match against Portugal.

This is the first of three friendlies that the Belgian team will play before they leave for Russia.

The 28 players selected (in alphabetical order)

• Toby Alderweireld
• Michy Batshuayi
• Christian Benteke
• Dedryck Boyata
• Yannick Carrasco
• Koen Casteels
• Nacer Chadli
• Laurent Ciman
• Thibaut Courtois
• Kevin De Bruyne
• Mousa Dembélé
• Leander Dendoncker
• Marouane Fellaini
• Eden Hazard
• Thorgan Hazard
• Adnan Januzaj
• Christian Kabasele
• Vincent Kompany
• Jordan Lukaku
• Romelu Lukaku
• Dries Mertens
• Thomas Meunier
• Simon Mignolet
• Matz Sels
• Youri Tielemans
• Thomas Vermaelen
• Jan Vertonghen
• Axel Witsel

“Nainggolan not going for tactical reasons”

Radja Nainggolan’s absence from the pre-selection was already leaked on Sunday evening.

At the press conference that followed the announcement of who had been selected Roberto Martinez told journalists that “Radja is a top player, but we can’t give him the role with the Red Devils that he has in Rome. This is a purely tactical decision. I flew to Rome and explained everything face to face”.

"It was a difficult decision, but as the national team coach I sometimes have to disappoint players. I have not taken my decision based on the last three weeks but based on the last two years”.