By Nick Marsh
Last Updated: 22/07/16 11:16am
With some Premier League players heading to the summer 2016 Olympics in Rio, who could be missing the big kick-off?
Arsenal are expected be the most represented English side in Rio, with Serge Gnabry in Germany’s 23-man squad and summer signing Takuma Asano also likely to miss the start of the season having been called up by Japan.
Alex Iwobi has been named in Nigeria’s 35-man provisional squad which will be narrowed down to 18 players in the coming weeks.
Chelsea could also lose three players to the Rio sun, although John Obi Mikel in Nigeria’s provisional squad is the only one likely to be involved in the London club’s first-team action.
Squad player Kenneth Omeruo has also been named for Nigeria, while U21 defender Ali Suljic is in Sweden’s alternative squad in case of an injury crisis.
One of the most crucial Premier League absentees is likely to be Manuel Lanzini of West Ham. The attacking midfielder was a key player in the Hammers’ seventh-place finish last season but may have to wait an few extra weeks to make his first official start since his 2015/16 loan deal became permanent as he will be part of Argentina’s quest for Olympic gold.
Other important absentees include Son Heung-Min of Tottenham – who will be representing South Korea – while the inclusion of Kelechi Iheanacho in the provisional Nigeria squad could leave Manchester City with only Wilfried Bony and new signing Nolito as back up to Sergio Aguero for the opening fixtures of the 2016/17 season.
Watford striker Odion Ighalo has also been named in Nigeria’s provisional 35-man team, but is a doubt to feature in Brazil as new boss Walter Mazzarri is reportedly yet to give him permission to feature, despite former manager Quique Sanchez Flores giving him the go-ahead before his departure.
Premier League players who are featuring at the 2016 Olympic games
Serge Gnabry – Germany, Takuma Asano – Japan, Alex Iwobi – Nigeria*
Ali Suljic – Sweden (backup/alternate), John Obi Mikel – Nigeria *, Kenneth Omeruo – Nigeria *
Tiago Ilori – Portugal
Kelechi Iheanacho – Nigeria.*
Joel Pereira -Portugal
Son Heung-min – South Korea
Odion Ighalo – Nigeria*
Manuel Lanzini – Argentina
*Named in the provisional 35-man squad for Nigeria. Final squad of 18 to be announced shortly.