Spain manager Luis Enrique has compared Sergio Busquets to tennis legend Rafael Nadal after naming the Barcelona midfielder in his squad for the 2022 World Cup. The 34-year-old will enter his seventh major international tournament in Qatar, and Enrique incredibly believes he has at least two more in him.
Several big names were absent from Enrique’s squad, including Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea, Paris Saint-Germain defender Sergio Ramos and Liverpool midfielder Thiago Alcantara. However, Busquets is a crucial cog in the Spanish coach’s possession-based side and adds experience to his talented midfield ranks.
The Barca great lifted the World Cup in his first appearance in 2010, likely the centrepiece of his glorious career. Nadal is also no stranger to silverware, winning more Grand Slams (22) than any other tennis player. After naming his travelling party, Enrique held a press conference where he compared Busquets to his iconic compatriot due to his longevity at the base of Spain’s midfield.
He told reporters: “My objective is to convince Busquets to play another World Cup. I’m not joking. That’s what I’ve told him. This is like Rafa Nadal. He’s without a doubt one of the best in history with Djokovic, Federer etc., and you’d put him No 1 on a rankings list if we were talking about serving.
“Well, with Busquets, it’s the same. If we are in a situation where we have the ball and are in control, Busquets is like Rafa Nadal at No 1. If we start to play long ball and more defensively, he’s obviously not the best option. But I don’t see a better player for how we want to operate than Busquets.”
Nadal, now 36, may feel less courteous towards Busquets than others in Enrique’s squad, considering he’s an avid Real Madrid supporter often seen watching games at the Santiago Bernabeu. But he will undoubtedly cheer his fellow sporting veteran on in Qatar as Spain aim to become world champions again.
Spain’s 2022 World Cup squad in full:
Goalkeepers – Unai Simon, Robert Sanchez, David Raya
Defenders – Dani Carvajal, Cesar Azpilicueta, Eric Garcia, Hugo Guillamon, Pau Torres, Aymeric Laporte, Jordi Alba, Jose Gaya
Midfielders – Sergio Busquets, Rodri, Gavi, Carlos Soler, Marcos Llorente, Pedri, Koke
Forwards – Ferran Torres, Pablo Sarabia, Yeremy Pino, Alvaro Morata, Marco Asensio, Nico Williams, Ansu Fati, Dani Olmo