With the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar fast-approaching, fans are progressively getting more and more excited about the highly anticipated event. The football world is set to shower its loyal followers with action-packed matches and many related activities, while players are eager to add that elusive trophy to their football career and country honour cabinet with their superior skills and teamwork.
But as the saying goes, “One man’s joy is another man’s sorrow”, players from the qualified 32 teams may be ecstatic to be part of history in this year’s world cup, there are a host of others that excels at club football but not as lucky as the former is.
Here is the list of megastars that are not blessed by the football god to play in this year’s World Cup.
Gianluigi Donnarumma (Italy)
The defending European champions found themselves playing for the UEFA playoffs after only securing four wins and four draws in the first round of qualifying, which they eventually lost out to a last-minute heartbreaker to a much weaker North Macedonia. This means that fans will not see the actions of Gianluigi Donnarumma in the World Cup.
He was of course the main reason why Italy won Euro 2020 as he saved multiple penalties against Spain in the semifinal as well as England in the final. Being absent from the biggest stage of country football must be painful for one of the best goalkeepers in the world.
Erling Haaland (Norway)
Being born to a former professional footballer, Erling Haaland was always going to be a star in the same industry, and he did not disappoint anyone so far.
The star striker’s career with Red Bull Salzburg, Borussia Dortmund as well as Manchester City has no shortage of goals. Being 22 years old only means we have yet to see the best version of himself, and perhaps he has the ability to truly inherit the legacy set by the GOATs Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi as the best player in the world in years to come.
Nonetheless, with his Norwegian teammates, apart from Martin Odegaard, not being on the same level as him, the World Cup is set to miss the prolific scoring ability from City’s new talisman.
Mohamed Salah (Egypt)
The Egyptian Magician has always been terrific for his club and country, Liverpool and Egypt, but Salah’s recent goal drought is the main reason why the Kops started the season off poorly and why Egypt missed out on a spot in the World Cup.
The last edition in Russia saw Salah displayed badly in Egypt’s failed group stage performance, and at 34 years old four years later, we might not get to witness his outstanding skills in the World Cup at all.
David Alaba (Austria)
David Alaba is perhaps amongst the most versatile players ever; Being a natural left back, the Austrian has also been deployed as a centre back, central midfielder as well as wide midfielder in Bayern Munich, Real Madrid and the Austria national team. However, the all-around 30-year-old has never appeared in the World Cup before, and even if the next World Cup is in a 48-team format, Alaba would be well past his prime and will not be expected to start in the national team either.
Despite their absence, the 2022 FIFA World Cup will still be showered with the likes of great footballers, but us as football fans will surely miss skilled players like the above in Qatar.
Honourable Mentions: Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Sweden), Jan Oblak (Slovenia), Luiz Diaz (Columbia) and Andrew Robertson (Scotland).
(Photo Credits: Lifestyle Asia Hong Kong)