Juninho has provided some insights to why Gabriel Magalhaes did not make the 2022 World Cup Brazil Squad despite having a productive season
In a recent interview with GE, Juninho Paulista, the Director of Development at the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF), shed light on the exclusion of three players who could have been part of the Brazilian national team at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. The players in question are Claudinho and Malcom from Zenit, Russia, and Gabriel Magalhães from Arsenal.
The absence of Claudinho and Malcom during a crucial match against Chile in the World Cup qualifiers stemmed from Zenit’s request for their return to play in the UEFA Champions League in September 2021. This decision further depleted the already limited roster of the Brazilian national team. Juninho expressed his disappointment with the attitude displayed by the two Russian-based players and revealed that their actions affected their involvement in the national team’s preparations for the World Cup.
He stated, “Speaking for myself, I didn’t like their attitude. I told them that. I understand the situation, but I spoke with them and their agents.”
Juninho went on to explain that the Zenit officials exerted immense pressure on Claudinho and Malcom, resorting to extreme measures, including threats of contract termination, to ensure their return. Although acknowledging the intense pressure faced by the players, Juninho expressed his discontent with their decision to prioritize club commitments over representing their country.
He said, “The Zenit executives were putting a lot of pressure, they were very firm with both players, they went even beyond, in a somewhat inhumane way, with actual threats, contract terminations, strong things. They faced enormous pressure, but I was disappointed with their decision to let go of the Brazilian national team.”
In a separate incident in March 2022, Gabriel Magalhães, the Arsenal defender, opted to remain in London for the birth of his child, consequently missing the World Cup qualifying matches against Bolivia and Chile. Juninho emphasized that such choices are personal but acknowledged that they can have consequences in terms of losing opportunities within the national team.
Drawing from his own experience, Juninho mentioned, “It’s all about choices. I went through a similar situation. When my child was born, I stayed in England and then came to Brazil the next day because I had injured my knee and needed to recover as quickly as possible. My wife stayed there alone for 40 days with the help of a nanny. Does it have an impact? When you weigh everything, it’s inevitable to consider all these factors. Another player steps in, performs well, and then you might lose some space.”