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Which soccer superstars will miss World Cup 2022? Haaland, Salah, Luis Díaz, Ibra...

As we edge ever closer to the showpiece kick-off, let’s assess the big names we won’t be seeing perform in Qatar.

Joe Brennan
FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - World Cup - Final - France v Croatia - Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow, Russia - July 15, 2018  France's Paul Pogba holds the trophy as he celebrates winning the World Cup  REUTERS/Dylan Martinez/File Photo

One of the many great things with this World Cup, besides the fact that it’s illegal to be gay in Qatar, the thousands of dead migrant workers or the fact that FIFA are telling us all to ignore the problems, is the amount of injured players that happens during a professional football season.

Pogba and Kanté among World Cup absentees

So, you can check our amazingly depressing Qatar World Cup injury tracker, where we will keep you updated throughout the tournament. But, for now, here are the biggest names who we won’t be seeing at the tournament, be it through injury or a failure to qualify with their nation. I reckon the starting eleven could even win the tournament.

Perhaps the biggest pair missing out on the World Cup are France’s double pivot of N’Golo Kanté and Paul Pogba. The two midfielders featured together in all of France’s games after progressing from the group and were fundamental in their role in Didier Deschamps’ winning side, with Pogba getting France’s third goal in the final against Croatia. It was during this time that many were calling Kanté one of the world’s best midfielders; he has not featured since August after suffering a further setback on his road to return from a hamstring injury. Pogba is out with a meniscus injury and has not featured since July.

Another injury to a player fundamental to his team is poor Mikel Oyarzabal. The Spanish winger was out for 7 months after an ACL tear but before that had become a key part of Luis Enrique’s Spain squad in Euro 2020, where he featured in every game until the semi-final where they lost on penalties to eventual winners Italy.

Speaking of the Italians, what group are they in? No, Roberto Mancini’s side repeated their 2018 World Cup feat and failed to qualify, making it only the third time the four-time champions have not participated in the tournament after qualification (in 1930 they did not enter).

Tecatito Corona will not be at the World Cup, either, after suffering a serious ankle injury in which he damaged ligaments. The right-sided forward could have been a key part of Tata Martino’s side but will have to watch from home as he recovers from the injury that has seen him out since August.

Several Premier League megastars miss World Cup 2022

England will be without two full-backs who may have been seen as starters: Reece James and Ben Chilwell (willl Southgate have enough full-backs to cover for them?) who have both picked up injuries in recent weeks due to Chelsea’s hefty schedule. James got 6 goals and 9 assists for Chelsea last season, Chilwell ruptured his cruciate last season so wasn’t able to contribute but had begun to shine for the London side before injury hit again. England’s opponents (including the USA) will be breathing a sigh of relief not to see these two marauding up and down the wings at Qatar.

Mané is a doubt but has travelled with Senegal, who knocked out Salah's Egypt in the qualifying round.
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Mané is a doubt but has travelled with Senegal, who knocked out Salah's Egypt in the qualifying round. François RenoirReuters

Somebody called Erling Haaland, I hear you say. Yes, the Norwegian machine will not be at the World Cup as his side did not qualify, so that means no Martin Ødegaard either. Austrian David Alaba won’t be able to play either as his side failed to qualify after losing to Wales in the play-off round thanks to a Gareth Bale double. Another Premier League ace not on a plane to Qatar is Mo Salah; Egypt topped the group but heartbreakingly lost out to Liverpool teammate Sadio Mané's Senegal on penalties.

So, those are the biggest names not playing at the World Cup this year. Don’t worry, the tournament will still surely be one of historic moments, fantastic goals and great matches. And you can follow it all on AS USA.

Joe’s injury XI (1-4-3-3)

  • GK: Mike Maignan (France, injured)
  • RB: Reece James (England, injured)
  • CB: David Alaba (Austria, did not qualify)
  • CB: Diego Carlos (Brazil, injured)
  • LB: Ferland Mendy (France, not selected)
  • CM: N’Golo Kanté (France, injured)
  • CM: Paul Pogba (France, injured)
  • CAM: Mohammed Salah (Egypt, did not qualify)
  • LW: Mikel Oyarzabal (Spain, injured)
  • ST: Erling Haaland (Norway, did not qualify)
  • RW: Tecatito Corona (Mexico, injured)

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