Former England striker Darren Bent has named his ultimate XI of European players right now – and it’s bound to cause some controversy.
The continent’s biggest names have been back in international action for the first time since last year’s World Cup as the qualifiers for Euro 2024 got underway last Thursday.
Among the headline-makers on matchday one was England’s Harry Kane who wrote his name into the history books when he became the Three Lions’ greatest-ever goalscorer by firing home from the penalty spot in his country’s 2-1 over Italy in Naples.
However, such is the quality of strikers across Europe at present, that there’s no place for Kane in Bent’s XI – and he’s not the only major name to miss out.
Despite the absence of some notable stars, Bent – who won 12 caps and scored four goals in his own international career – selected a line-up packed with talent.
You can check out Bent’s XI, together with his explanation of his picks, in the clip below.
Video: Darren Bent selects his ultimate XI of European players
GK: Thibaut Courtois (Belgium)
RB: Kyle Walker (England)
CB: Virgil van Dijk (Netherlands)
CB: Raphael Varane (France)
LB: Andy Robertson (Scotland)
CM: Kevin De Bruyne (Belgium)
CM: Eduardo Camavinga (France)
CM: Luka Modric (Croatia)
RW: Bukayo Saka (England)
LW: Kylian Mbappe (France)
ST: Erling Haaland (Norway)
As Bent was revealing his XI during an appearance on talkSPORT, his co-host Andy Goldstein couldn’t resist challenging him on several of his picks.
Among the controversial selections was the inclusion of Robertson at left-back.
Although Bent admits that he had considered handing the berth to France’s Theo Hernandez, Goldstein was more interested in asking the former Charlton, Tottenham and Aston Villa striker why he’d selected the Scot over England’s Luke Shaw.
Bent’s centre-back pairing of Raphael Varane and Virgil van Dijk could also be seen as questionable given that Varane has retired from international football and Van Dijk has struggled to show his best form in some time.
Off the back of a strong World Cup for Croatia, Josko Gvardiol would have strong claims for inclusion.
The named midfield of De Bruyne, Camavinga and Modric is undeniably strong, but it’s clear Goldstein feels that England’s Jude Bellingham should have got the nod in place of the Frenchman, who Bent concedes was ‘a rogue shout’ on his part.
Spain midfielder Rodri also misses the cut in Bent’s final XI.
Although Goldstein pushes strongly for Kane to be part of Bent’s front three, it’s almost impossible to argue that the England man should replace the goal machine that is Haaland in the central striker role.
Mbappe is another selection who would surely be nailed on in pretty much everyone’s side, while Saka, who has been in electric form for both club and country of late, rounds out the XI.
On paper, Bent has put together a fantastic side. However, given the ridiculous amount of talent that didn’t get a look in, many might argue it could have been even better.