Best Players NOT Going to The World Cup in Qatar

Thiago Alcantara

With the World Cup in Qatar set to commence in under a week, all participating nations have submitted their 26-man squad for the tournament. Whilst there is certainly a positive buzz around the camps and the players chosen to represent their countries, there have also been some big-name omissions. Today we are going to take a look at the best players not going to this year’s World Cup.

Paul Pogba – France

Paul Pogba

2018 World Cup winner Paul Pogba is set to miss this year’s tournament through injury, having torn his meniscus which has seen him miss the entire season thus far.

Pogba returned to Juventus in the summer after a six-year spell with Manchester United, where he failed to fully live up to expectation off the back of his then-world record transfer fee. The Frenchman completed his return to Turin on a free transfer in July.

Le Bleu will undoubtedly miss the former United star’s presence as he’s been one of the first names on Didier Deschamps’ team sheet since 2014.

Marco Reus – Germany

Marco Reus

Marco Reus’ bad luck when it comes to major international tournaments unfortunately continues, picking up another injury to rule him out of the World Cup in Qatar.

The Borussia Dortmund star missed Germany’s 2014 triumph in Brazil through injury, and was excluded from Die Mannschaft’s Euro 2016 squad, also through injury related concerns.

Reus finally played in another major tournament in the 2018 World Cup, but will not hold fond memories of his time in Russia as Germany were eliminated at the group stage.

Reus would certainly have added value to the German side who are light in terms of attacking options. The forward sat on 7 goal involvements in 12 appearances prior to his ankle ligament injury, which will see him miss the tournament in Qatar.

Jadon Sancho – England

Jadon Sancho

Jadon Sancho’s exclusion from Gareth Southgate’s 26-man England squad isn’t a shock when looking at his form, but it comes as a surprise considering how highly touted he was just 18 months ago, being compared to the likes of Erling Haaland and Kylian Mbappe.

Sancho has had a tough start to life in England with Manchester United, to say the least. Many fans were willing to write off his first season as an adaptation phase, but have grown impatient with the former Dortmund star’s lack of performances this campaign.

The 22-year-old has found himself on the bench in recent times, with players such as Marcus Rashford, Anthony Elanga and starboy Alejandro Garnacho all being preferred to him by boss Erik Ten Hag.

Sancho’s omission should serve as an indication of the huge drop-off in performances since his Dortmund days. Given his lack of form and the dearth of wide attacking options England have, Sancho being left out of the squad has understandably not been subject to much backlash.

Sergio Ramos – Spain

Legendary Spanish defender Sergio Ramos has been left out of Luis Enrique’s squad for the World Cup, despite rediscovering his form this campaign ,after an injury-ridden first season with PSG.

Ramos will go down as one of the best centre-backs in football history, and is Spain’s all-time top appearance maker, playing a vital role in the success of the Spanish national side from 2008 to 2012.

The former Real Madrid captain has seen his game time increase dramatically this season, as he has been a pivotal cog in a PSG defence which has the best record in Ligue 1.

The Parisians are still unbeaten across all competitions this season, and look like one of, if not the most exciting team in Europe at the moment.

The experience of 36-year-old Ramos would prove valuable to a Spanish defence that doesn’t contain many top-class centre-backs.

N’Golo Kante – France

N'Golo Kante

Chelsea midfielder N’Golo Kante is also set to miss the World Cup through injury, picking up a knock in early August that rules him out till the new year.

Kante has been plagued by injuries in recent seasons, likely as a result of his high-energy style displayed over the years taking its toll on his body. The Frenchman was on the verge of making a return to first-team action in October, but suffered a further setback in training, meaning he’ll be sidelined for the rest of the year.

Kante was instrumental in Le Bleu’s success in 2018, and has been a mainstay in the French National Team ever since breaking onto the scene in 2015.

The former Leicester man will be sorely missed alongside the aforementioned Paul Pogba, who formed Didier Deschamps most trusted midfield duo since Euro 2016. Without the pair, France’s options in the middle of the park look a lot more limited.

Thiago Alcantara – Spain

Thiago Alcantara

Arguably the most shocking omission, Luis Enrique opted not to include Liverpool’s midfield maestro Thiago in Spain’s World Cup squad, despite him being available for selection.

In all fairness, the former Bayern Munich star has had his fair share of injury issues over the years, including this season. But to exclude him from the squad entirely seems extreme, especially considering the bags of talent and class he constantly displays when fit.

Spain do possess an abundance of strong midfield options, namely Pedri, Gavi, Rodri and Sergio Busquets, but Thiago would most certainly supplement those names, if not outshine them.

The La Masia graduate is able to dictate games himself, and is super press-resistant, which caters for his superb technique and passing range.

With a shortage of attacking talent, Spain could potentially have used Thiago’s skillset to better control games in this year’s World Cup.

Ivan Toney – England

Ivan Toney

Ivan Toney made a mockery of Gareth Southgate’s decision to leave him out of England’s World Cup squad by scoring a brace for Brentford at the Etihad, to lead his side to a 2-1 victory over Man City on the weekend.

Toney has risen to prominence over the last couple years, first breaking the record for the most goals scored in a single Championship campaign (before Mitrovic demolished his record the following season), then following it up with back-to-back double-digit hauls in the Premier League.

However, it’s mainly been in 2022 where Toney has showcased his star quality. Harry Kane is the only Englishman to have scored more goals than the former Newcastle player this calendar year, notching up 17 league goals since January.

Furthermore, Toney is only behind Erling Haaland and the aforementioned Kane in the Premier League’s top-scorer charts this season, sitting on 10 goals from the opening 15 fixtures, and doing it in a far-less quality team.

Another aspect which makes Toney’s omission even more surprising is his astounding penalty record. The 26-year-old has scored 26 of the 27 penalties he’s taken in his career, with the only miss coming back in October 2018, when Toney was playing for Peterborough against Barnsley.

His skill from the spot could have proven to be a massive weapon in England’s arsenal. Toney should feel massively hard done by to have been left at home for the Qatar World Cup.