With less than a month to go until the World Cup kicks off in Qatar a number of big-name players from all over the planet have been ruled out of the tournament.
It is hard to think of a World Cup taking place without a high-profile absentee, but the sight of a player missing out with a late injury remains painful.
Most of the stars-in-waiting for Qatar 2022 have more games to navigate at club level before heading out to the middle-east, but some have already suffered setbacks that will keep them out of the tournament.
Here, we took a closer look at those who won’t be involved in November and December showpiece.
Argentina forward Paulo Dybala started the 2022-23 season in frightening form after leaving Juventus for Roma. The former Palermo frontman, who managed just 22 minutes at the 2018 World Cup, scored seven goals in his first 11 games for the Giallorossi, only to be dealt a painful blow.
The 28-year-old, who celebrates his birthday just days before the World Cup, suffered a freak injury while playing for Roma against Lecce. He pulled up after converting a penalty, and club manager Jose Mourinho explained his concern.
Dybala’s injury meant things went from bad to worse for Roma, who had already lost another of their summer signings. Former Liverpool midfielder Gini Wijnaldum joined on loan from Paris Saint-Germain but managed just one appearance since suffering a long-term injury in training.
Wijnaldum and his Netherlands team failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, but he would have expected to be in the mix for a starting spot after his involvement at Euro 2020. It looks like it’s not to be, though – while the 31-year-old has pledged to return as soon as he can, the World Cup may come too soon for him.
England have had plenty of right-backs to choose from recently, but the Euro 2020 finalists have been dealt a series of blows. And, while Trent Alexander-Arnold has recovered from a setback of his own, Manchester City’s Kyle Walker faces a race against time.
The former Tottenham Hotspur star has gone in for surgery on the groin injury he suffered in the Manchester derby at the start of October. As players we have to appreciate injuries are part and parcel of the game we love,” the defender wrote on Twitter.
As well as Walker, fellow defender Reece James faces a race against time for the tournament. The Chelsea man was forced off during the Blues’ Champions League win against AC Milan and faces a number of weeks on the sidelines.
Unless James recovers ahead of schedule, that timeframe would keep him out until December. With England playing all three of their group games before the end of November, it looks hard to see James making it.
After an injury-hit final season with Manchester United, Paul Pogba had hoped to turn over a new leaf. However, after suffering a setback in pre-season, he is still yet to make his second competitive debut for Juventus.
The French midfielder starred at the 2018 tournament as Didier Deschamps’ side won it all. However, he has not featured since limping out of a training session during Juve’s training camp in the United States in July.
Angel Di Maria
Pogba isn’t the only Juve player looking to recover in time for the tournament. Di Maria, who also joined the Bianconeri over the summer, has at least got minutes under his belt, even if his current status is more concerning.
France are in danger of having none of the midfield stars who led them to glory in 2018. Blaise Matuidi hasn’t featured for the national team since 2019, while N’Golo Kante has followed Paul Pogba in struggling with injuries.
Liverpool have lost two key men to injury over the last few weeks. However, while Luis Diaz’s Colombia missed out on World Cup qualification, the blow to Diogo Jota has clearer international repercussions.
Here is the complete list of all top players who will miss the 2022 FIFA World Cup at Qatar: