Switzerland Manager Vladimir Petković has today cut midfielder Valon Behrami from the Swiss national team.
Petković reportedly told Behrami over the phone that he was no longer wanted in the national team set-up. In an interview with RSI Sport, Behrami said “He called me today at noon. I thought it was a courtesy call and instead it was to put me at the door.” Behrami was the second most-capped player in Switzerland’s World Cup squad with 83 caps, in an international career spanning thirteen years.
There are also numerous reports from the Swiss media that three other senior players have also been cut from the squad. Reports suggest that Gelson Fernandes, Johan Djourou and, most shockingly, captain Stephan Lichtsteiner have all been told that they will not be called up again. They are 31, 31 and 34 respectively. The quartets of players have 328 caps between them, and were by far the most experienced players in Petković’s World Cup squad.
Lichtsteiner and Behrami played key roles in Switzerland’s recent World Cup campaign, with the latter playing in all four games and gaining international praise after his performance against Brazil in their opener in Rostov-on-Don. Lichtsteiner has been captaining the national team for two years and is joint-third in appearances made for Switzerland, on an impressive 103 caps.
According to RSI Sport, this is part of a new reconstructive plan of the squad, and that Petković is starting by ending the international careers of players he feels he no longer needs.
33 year-old Behrami believes the decision is not about football. “This is a political choice,” he said, “the coach will be able to say what he wants, but it is obviously a political choice.” However, Petković denied it, saying “This is exclusively a technical choice”.
Despite multiple reports from the media in Switzerland, there has surprisingly been nothing released from the Swiss FA whatsoever. We await any comment from them.
Vladimir Petković has been in charge of the Swiss National Team for four years, where he took over from Ottmar Hitzfeld after the 2014 World Cup. The 54 year-old has since brought the Schweizer Nati up to sixth in the FIFA World rankings, and has guided them to Euro 2016 and this summer’s World Cup.
Switzerland have four weeks until their next international match, where they welcome Iceland to St. Gallen on 8 September for their inaugural UEFA Nations League fixture before travelling to Leicester to face England in an international friendly three days later.