(New Straits Times)
This November will be the first time the FIFA World Cup will be held during the European club season in the midst of domestic leagues, domestic cups and UEFA tournaments. Although the excitement is building for the illustrious tournament in Qatar, there will be a lot of players who will be missing out, whether that be through not qualifying with their nations or through recent injury. We have chosen a handful of players from both categories who will be the biggest misses to come this fall.
Players Who Failed To Qualify:
(New York Times)
Undoubtedly the most talked about player in the footballing world at the moment, Manchester City’s Erling Haaland will not be in Qatar this fall after failing to qualify with Norway. Although in incredible form, Haaland is only 22 years of age and with the likes of Martin Ødegaard and Alexander Sørloth making waves each week, it is very possible we will see him in the next tournament.
One of the bigger shocks during World Cup qualifying was the Euro 2020 Champions Italy's failure to get the right results to qualify for the 2022 World Cup. We could have chosen any of the dozens of talents Italy has in their arsenal but Ciro Immobile will be a huge name missing out. One of the most underrated and consistent strikers in European football these past 5-6 seasons, the Lazio forward will be forgotten in the media headlines once again.
Juan Cuadrado and Luis Diaz
It was hard to choose one, so Juventus’ Juan Cuadrado and Liverpool’s newest winger Luis Diaz, both performing well for their respective clubs will also be missing out on the tournament. Colombia usually puts on a show during their most recent World Cup tournaments so for them to miss out is unfortunate, to say the least. Luis Diaz, similarly to Haaland, has had some electrifying moments since arriving in the English Premier League so it will be tough not seeing him on the world’s biggest stage.
The Algerian English Premier League winner Riyad Mahrez has been a revelation for both Algeria and Manchester City alike. Taking the league by storm with Leicester City during their league-winning season, Mahrez’s flair, finishing and ability to turn a game on its head is something we will be missing this fall. Algeria, another surprising nation left out of Qatar will look to make the tournament next time around.
Another Premier League giant, Mohamed Salah will most certainly be missed even with his slow start to the season with Liverpool FC. The UEFA Champions League winner and accolades both collective and individual for his sublime ability to weave through defences and score from any angle no matter how far out has also failed to qualify with his country Egypt. Even with all the superstars going to Qatar it is unfortunate that one of Africa’s most promising footballing nations and one of football’s best wingers will not participate in the tournament.
Players Currently Out With Injury:
It has recently been revealed that Chelsea and French midfielder N'golo Kante is out with a hamstring injury that has ruled him out of the upcoming World Cup. A considerable loss to France, who although have an abundance of talents to choose from, Kante would have been on top of that list to start. Winning the World Cup in 2018, Kante has been a massive player for club and country with his engine-like stamina and powerhouse defensive performances, seeing him ruled out is heartbreaking.
England’s most in-form right back at the moment, Reece James has been performing at the highest level in both the Premier League and Champions League respectively. During a time when Trent Alexander Arnold has been lacklustre, to say the least, Reece James was most likely going to start for England this coming fall. After a collision left him with a Knee Ligament injury, James is unlikely to recover by the time Gareth Southgate needs to reveal the squad he wants to take to Qatar, terrible news considering the season he has had thus far.
A player that always makes headlines in the media, French midfielder Paul Pogba is yet to make an appearance for new (old) club Juventus FC after transferring in the summer. Pogba picked up an injury during Juventus’ pre-season at a training session and is another doubt for the World Cup. It would be hard to think the French manager Didier Deschamps would avoid choosing Pogba even if he had returned just in time, but without playing time and such a fragile injury being put through the wringer, it doesn’t look like he will be able to perform.
Argentina will try to move heaven and Earth to make Lionel Messi’s last potential World Cup a successful one, a player that would be crucial to making that a reality would have been AS Roma FC’s new signing Paulo Dybala. On the 9th of October, after celebrating his converted penalty against Lecce, Dybala was subbed off and later it was revealed he had suffered a left quadriceps injury. Although he hasn’t exactly been ruled out of the World Cup just yet, the injury may set him back from starting in Argentina’s group-stage games against Saudi Arabia, Mexico and Poland.
Georginio Wijnaldum may not be on everyone’s list for the best box-to-box player in recent seasons, but the Roma midfielder from the Netherlands has been one of their prominent options to get the job done. From Liverpool to Paris Saint Germain to Roma, Wijnaldum has played with the world’s best on many occasions and with his work rate, it is crucial to have a player like him. Wijnaldum is currently out with a tibia fracture which is set to rule him out until January.
FC Barcelona’s center-half star Ronald Araujo has recently come on the footballing scene as a starter in their current rebuild to get back to where they once were. However, the Uruguayan, after a promising start to the new season, suffered a thigh injury which has forced the defender to progress with surgery which will rule him out until late December. A personal choice, Araujo did not want to risk further health issues for the rest of the season so has taken the safe route so his recovery for Barcelona will be definite for the rest of their campaign.