Qatar 2022 will go on without some of world football’s biggest names; Mohamed Salah and Erling Haaland missed the World Cup along with Italy’s star players following the European champions’ shock defeat to North Macedonia in the play-offs
Salah was targeted with a laser beam from a small handheld device in the crowd as he missed a penalty in Egypt’s penalty shootout loss to Senegal – and he joins a list of outstanding stars who will not be part of the showpiece event at the end of the year. .
Cristiano Ronaldo will be in his fifth World Cup after Portugal beat North Macedonia in the European play-offs which means he and Lionel Messi head to Qatar, but which players will be out for the 2022/23 season?
Sky Sports rounded up the world XI players guaranteed not to attend the tournament and listed some of the Premier League names who stayed with their clubs during their month-long breaks in November and December.
Having been crowned European champions last summer, Italy are the side that has stood out the most from any loss in the remaining play-offs across multiple continents after they were beaten 1-0 at home by North Macedonia.
Azzurri head coach Roberto Mancini is considering his future after Italy failed to qualify for a second successive World Cup.
That means there will be no Gianluigi Donnarumma. The Paris Saint-Germain goalkeeper was named player of the tournament last summer – the first goalkeeper to win the award at the European Championship – mainly because of the saves he made in Italy’s penalty shootout victories in the semi-finals and final.
At 23, he looks to have a long international career ahead of him – but he won’t be adding to his accolades in Qatar. Also missing is compatriot Jorginho – who finished third in the 2021 Ballon d’Or – Marco Verratti, Leonardo Bonucci, Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Spinazzola and Federico Chiesa – who was also named in the best team of the Euro 2020 tournament.
Erling Haaland’s future at Borussia Dortmund will be in the spotlight during the summer transfer window, but he will have no additional distraction from the World Cup to consider next season, Norway’s failure to qualify also cost Qatar’s Martin Odegaard from Arsenal.
Norway finished third in their qualifying group and have yet to qualify for the World Cup or European Championships in Haaland’s lifetime – the 21-year-old was born days after the end of Euro 2000, their last major tournament.
Norway last played at the World Cup in 1998 and Haaland’s goals saw his country almost end their long wait.
Of the other European nations that did not book their place, David Alaba has shown himself to be a world class player at Bayern Munich and now at Real Madrid, but his country Austria failed to overcome Wales in the play-offs. The team last played in the World Cup in 1998.
A group of Swedish stars suffered the same fate at the hands of Poland, meaning Zlatan Ibrahimovic missed the final shot at the World Cup, along with Manchester United defender Victor Lindelof and the prospect of attracting Alexander Isak.
It seems that Ibrahimovic, Sweden’s top goalscorer, has had his last appearance at the World Cup. The 40-year-old AC Milan striker appeared in three editions – 2002, 2006 and 2018.
Ibrahimovic came out of international retirement in early 2021 with the aim of playing in the European Championship. He ended up missing that through injury and could not help Sweden qualify for the World Cup after being included for the final 10 minutes of the play-off final defeat, with his side already trailing 2-0.
Ibrahimovic looks set to sign for another year with Milan but the tournament in Qatar is clearly his last chance to play in the World Cup. He may still harbor hopes of playing at Euro 2024, having said he remains available for Sweden.