After overcoming Levski Sofia in the Europa Conference League qualification, Eintracht Frankfurt head coach Dino Toppmöller has had to make two difficult decisions. The 42-year-old has left two star names out of his European squad for the upcoming group stages, which has led to frustration within the Frankfurt camp.
The two players to miss out on European action until at least January – when the squads are updated – are Lucas Alario and Philipp Max. According to Bild, both players were informed of the decision by Toppmöller during a detailed individual discussion.
The exclusion of Alario, while understandable with the Argentinian striker returning from injury, still has a surprise factor due to the fact that Die Adler are low on attacking reinforcement after the sale of Randal Kolo Muan to PSG. Nevertheless, Toppmöller would make it clear that that he did not want to risk rushing the 30-year-old back from injury:
“Fitness is my top priority. The boys have to be able to run and march. If we can get him in a condition where he can work extremely hard for the team and also play intensively, he is an option. Otherwise it’s difficult when you see how football has developed. Only Bayern can play with a central striker who has his qualities in the box. Lucas is an incredibly good finisher. We have to get him in there as a collective.”
Nonetheless, while Alario will be working on his return to the squad, the omission of Max is the most surprising of all. However, with the arrival of Niels Nkounkou from Saint-Étienne, who scored the crucial goal for the Eagles as they snatched a point away from Köln on matchday three, Toppmöller believes he has a better alternative.
Ansgar Knauff and junior Dina Ebimbe are also players that can cover the left hand side of Eintracht’s midfield if required. Therefore, it will be down to Max to fight for his inclusion in the updated squad should Die Adler advance to the knockout stages of the Conference League.
GGFN | Will Shopland