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FIFA World Cup: Balde call-up means 17 Barcelona players now in Qatar

Doha (Qatar), Nov 19 (IANS) FC Barcelona may not have won the La Liga title since 2018-19 and their Champions League since 2014-15, but the Spanish giants will still have a huge presence at the FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

The decision taken by Spain coach Luis Enrique, to call Barcelona left-back Alejandro Balde into his squad means that Barca have supplied 17 players to the Qatar World Cup.

The club now have the most players in Qatar, followed by Bayern Munich and Manchester City, who have 16 players at the tournament.

Bayern once boasted of 17 players but striker Sadio Mane has just been left out of the Senegal squad due to an injury.

The three clubs are followed by Al-Sadd SC (Qatar/15), Manchester United (14) and Real Madrid (13), reports Xinhua.

The 19-year-old Balde has replaced Jose Luis Gaya of Valencia in the Spain squad after Gaya suffered an ankle injury in a training session.

Gaya missed the World Cup after suffering an ankle injury, with Balde stepping up from the Under-21 side after an impressive start to the season, which has seen him play at both left and right back for Barcelona — although he has just 23 first-team appearances in his career and only made his Under-21 debut in September.

Spain coach Enrique admitted it has been “the worst day for having to tell Gaya that he had to leave the squad, due to an injury that is not that serious, but with the games so close, it would have been a risk (to keep him).”

–IANS

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