Haaland, Salah, and Pogba Won't Play in 2022 World Cup

From Haaland to Salah and Pogba, some of the biggest names in football will be missing from this year’s World Cup.

The World Cup is football’s biggest showcase event.

The game’s biggest names are expected to put on their best performances, helping their teams reach new heights while also captivating fans.

However, some of the game’s biggest stars will not be present at this year’s event, which begins on November 20 in Qatar.

Only 32 of the 211 FIFA member nations qualified for the World Cup 2022, causing heartbreak for players such as Erling Haaland, Mohamed Salah, and Gianluigi Donnarumma, as Norway, Egypt, and Italy were among the teams that did not qualify.

Here is a list of ten players who will miss the World Cup because their teams did not qualify.

Paul Pogba deserves special mention because he will miss France’s title defense in Qatar due to injury.

Norway’s Erling Haaland

Erling Haaland made his international debut when he was 19 years old and has scored 21 goals in 23 games.

However, Haaland, arguably the world’s best young striker at the moment, only managed five goals in the World Cup qualifiers. Norway earned 18 points from its ten qualification matches, finishing third in the group behind the Netherlands and Turkey.

This season, the Manchester City player has been in sensational form, becoming the English Premier League’s fastest player (nine games) to score 15 goals.

The 22-year-old has time on his side and plenty of chances to make amends for missing out in 2022.

Norway’s Haaland has taken the Premier League by storm this season [Jure Makovec/AFP]

Mohamed Salah (Egypt)

Egypt’s Mohamed Salah told a television channel in August, “I might be in Qatar during the World Cup.”

However, one of the game’s biggest stars will not be on the field during the Middle East’s first World Cup because his country failed to qualify.

Egypt and Salah have lost penalty shootouts against Senegal twice in the last two months.

First, they were defeated in the final of the Africa Cup of Nations in February. The World Cup qualification playoff followed, which ended in a penalty shootout after two legs.

Egypt lost 3-1 on penalties after Salah’s penalty kick sailed over the goal.

Salah’s participation in the 2018 World Cup in Russia was hampered by injury, and he did not help his team advance past the group stages.

Salah’s ability to compete in another World Cup at the age of 30 remains to be seen.

Salah’s Egypt lost to Senegal on penalties in the World Cup qualfier [Khaled Desouki/AFP]

Austrian David Alaba

David Alaba was named Austrian Sports Personality of the Year for the third time this year, in addition to his eight Austrian Footballer of the Year awards and the quadruple with Real Madrid in the 2021-22 season.

Despite being arguably Austria’s best footballer over the last decade, the former Bayern Munich defender has never played in a World Cup because his country has not qualified since 1998.

The 30-year-old, who has also captained Austria, was named to the starting XI for his country’s Nations League playoff match against Wales in March. Austria’s dismal qualification campaign ended with a 2-1 loss in Cardiff, despite five wins from ten games.

The Real Madrid defender has appeared in 96 international matches for Austria, scoring 14 goals.

Alaba played a massive role in Real Madrid’s Champions League win last year [Joe Klamar/AFP]

Algeria’s Riyad Mahrez

Riyad Mahrez has been consistently one of Africa’s best players in recent years, winning the CAF African Footballer of the Year award in 2016, the Africa Cup of Nations in 2016, and the Premier League with two different clubs.

The France-born winger was a member of Algeria’s World Cup squad in 2014 but had little impact. His team did not qualify for the 2018 edition, but they were on the verge of making it to Qatar when a late Cameroon goal knocked them out in extra time of their playoff tie.

Algeria’s absence in Qatar may put an end to Mahrez’s hopes of playing in another World Cup in four years, as he will be 35.

Algeria’s forward Riyad Mahrez hasn’t featured in the World Cup since 2014 [Charly Triballeau/AFP]

Martin Odegaard (Norway)

Martin Odegaard, a club and country leader at the age of 23, has made a quick transition from youth to professional football.

The Norwegian made his professional league debut at the age of 15 and became the country’s youngest goal-scorer. He was signed by Real Madrid a year later, but he bounced around between Spain and the Netherlands before settling in London with Arsenal.

Odegaard has been regarded as one of the best young talents, and it was no surprise when, at the age of 15, he broke the record for the youngest debutant for Norway’s senior side. The midfielder has been praised for his vision on the ball, precision with set pieces, and ability to create space.

His leadership and talent, however, were insufficient to propel his team to the World Cup. Norway came in third place in their group. It was an unexpected result given the talent of Odegaard, Haaland, and others.

Norway midfielder Odegaard was named Arsenal captain this season [Jure Makovec/AFP]

Italy’s Gianluigi Donnarumma

When Gianluigi Buffon retired from international football, Italy had little trouble finding a replacement. Gianluigi Donnarumma not only replaced his namesake and idol with confidence, but he also established himself as the best young goalkeeper in the world.

Donnarumma made his professional debut for AC Milan in 2015 and quickly established himself as a starter the following year. He moved to Paris St-Germain in 2021.

Donnarumma began establishing himself as a worthy successor just as Buffon’s career was coming to an end. At the age of 17, he replaced Buffon in a match in 2016, becoming Italy’s youngest goalkeeper.

Donnarumma was named UEFA Player of the Tournament in the Euro 2020 championship (held in 2021) for his pivotal role in Italy’s victory.

Because Italy failed to qualify for yet another World Cup, Donnarumma will have to wait at least four years before making his World Cup debut.

Gianluigi Donnarumma was one of Italy’s star performers at the Euros last year [Daniele Mascolo/Reuters]

Ivory Coast’s Franck Kessie

Unlike other African breakout stars, Franck Kessie’s rise to the top of European club football did not begin at a young age.

The Ivorian played club football in his home country until the age of 18 before joining Atalanta in Italy. Once in Italy, he made his mark with AC Milan, where he appeared in 223 games and scored 37 goals in five seasons. Kessie became a fan favorite after scoring his final goal for the club at the end of the 2021-22 season.

When Kessie left Milan for Barcelona, it was seen as a loss for the Italian team because he was instrumental in restoring Milan to the top of Italian football.

Kessie debuted for Ivory Coast at the age of 17 and has seven goals in 60 international appearances.

While he hasn’t appeared in many major tournaments for the Elephants, he was the joint top assist provider in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations, where his team was eliminated in the quarter-finals.

The Ivory Coast’s qualification for the 2022 World Cup was at stake until their final match against Cameroon. A win or a draw would have sent the Elephants to Qatar, but they were unable to score, and Cameroon’s qualification was confirmed by a goal in the 21st minute, causing heartbreak for Kessie and his team.

Franck Kessie moved to Barcelona from AC Milan this summer (AFP)

Colombian Luis Diaz

Luis Diaz, one of Colombia’s biggest stars and the joint leading goal-scorer in the 2021 Copa America, has quickly become the poster boy of Colombian football. Since his international debut in 2018, he has eight goals in 37 appearances.

Diaz, however, will not be able to showcase his talent in Qatar because Colombia failed to qualify for Qatar 2022 after finishing sixth in the CONMEBOL standings. Following Colombia’s final match in the qualification stage, the 25-year-old Liverpool winger expressed his disappointment on Twitter.

“I’ve dreamed of wearing this shirt and wearing it with pride in a World Cup since I was a kid.” It hurts far too much not to have succeeded. I continue to want to fight for this dream; you will have my commitment and know that I will give everything to achieve that goal. We will exact our vengeance.”

Diaz will have to wait another four years to see if he will be able to realize his dream.

Luis Diaz was the joint top scorer at the Copa America 2021

Italy’s Marco Verratti

Marco Verratti has been regarded as one of the world’s best midfielders since being named the best player in the Italian second division in 2011-12. The following season, he was signed by PSG and was quickly named the best young player in Ligue 1.

Verratti made his international debut for Italy at the age of 20 soon after his rise in club football, but injuries and Italy’s poor performance in the 2014 World Cup and Euro 2016 kept him out of top international action.

Verratti was the main cog in Roberto Mancini’s midfield for Italy’s triumphant run at Euro 2020, finishing with a passing accuracy of 93 percent.

Italy’s shocking defeat to North Macedonia will keep Verratti and company away from Qatar.

Victor Osimhen, Nigeria

Victor Osimhen is a promising young Nigerian striker who won the Golden Boot at the FIFA U-17 World Cup in 2015 and is the leader of Napoli’s attack in Serie A.

The 23-year-old Nigerian striker has quickly established himself as one of Italy’s top strikers, scoring 30 goals in 68 appearances for the club since 2020. Osimhen previously played for Wolfsburg in the Bundesliga before moving to Italy.

The Super Eagles’ player shot into the spotlight for the first time when he scored an incredible 10 goals in the U-17 World Cup, six more than the second best, and helped Nigeria win the trophy for a record fifth time.

Osimhen has 15 goals in 22 appearances for the senior team since his debut.

Nigeria’s failure to qualify for the 2022 World Cup will deprive Osimhen of the opportunity to showcase his talent at the world’s largest football event. However, with age on his side, the young striker will almost certainly have a chance to play in another World Cup if his team qualifies.

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