French trio Paul Pogba, N’Golo Kante and Christopher Nkunku, Liverpool legends Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane and Manchester City star Erling Haaland
A host of star payers will be absent from the World Cup in Qatar with many fans gutted not to see their heroes in action.
Whether due to injury or their country’s failure to qualify, some of the best footballers in the world will not be on the pitch in Qatar.
The likes of Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Kylian Mbappe will all be competing for the game’s biggest trophy in the Gulf nation.
Argentina, Brazil, England and defending champions France are among the favorites to win the World Cup.
But one country that has no chance of winning is Italy, having failed to qualify just a year after winning Euro 2020.
Putting together a starting XI that could arguably win the World Cup made up of those missing in Qatar, the talkSPORT side have won 12 Champions League titles between them.
Three French stars are included, along with three Liverpool legends and an England defender.
Here’s what our line-up looks like…
Gianluigi Donnarumma – goalkeeper – Italy
The Paris Saint-Germain striker played the starring role in Italy’s run to Euro 2020 where he saved two penalties in the final shootout victory over England.
He has played 22 games in all competitions and would have entered the World Cup in fine form having kept ten clean sheets so far.
But Roberto Mancini’s side failed to qualify for the global tournament to make it two consecutive World Cups which Italy missed.
Reece James – right-back – England
In a major blow for the Three Lions, James was not named in Gareth Southgate’s squad due to his knee injury.
The Chelsea ace has revealed how devastated he felt after being sent off after failing to adapt in enough time.
Although he hinted on social media, he feels aggrieved at being left out after liking a tweet about his disappearance.
Sergio Ramos – central defender – Spain
Despite Spain qualifying for Qatar, boss Luis Enrique has surprisingly decided against calling up Sergio Ramos.
This is despite the 36-year-old being in great form for PSG having played 20 games this season, seven more than he managed last season.
Ramos, who won the 2010 World Cup as well as two European Championships, is the most capped Spanish player of all time with 180 appearances.
David Alaba – centre-back – Austria
One of the best defenders of his generation, Real Madrid ace Alaba has won ten Bundesliga titles, one La Liga and three Champions Leagues.
But he has never appeared at a World Cup, with Austria’s last appearance dating back to 1998.
His former Real team-mate Gareth Bale knocked Austria out of qualifying in the playoff semi-finals after netting a delightful brace.
Andy Robertson – left-back – Scotland
Like Austria, Scotland were knocked out of the play-off semi-finals after losing to Ukraine in the summer.
Recognized as one of the best left-backs in the world, the Liverpool defender has yet to play in the World Cup.
Paul Pogba – central midfielder – France
A knee injury prevented the French star from helping Les Bleus defend their World Cup crown.
Pogba is yet to play this season since joining Juventus on a free transfer after completing his contract at Manchester United.
The four-time Serie A champion suffered the blow in July after tearing his meniscus.
N’Golo Kante – central midfielder – France
Just like Pogba, Chelsea’s cult hero won’t play a role in Qatar due to a hamstring injury.
The former Leicester man was forced to undergo surgery with the 31-year-old to be out of action until 2023.
He hasn’t played for the Blues since the spectacular 2-2 draw against Tottenham in August.
Christopher Nkunku – attacking midfielder – France
Completing the midfield is another star for France, with Nkunku arguably the biggest hit due to his goal threat after recently suffering a knee injury.
Capable of operating as a centre-forward as well, the 25-year-old has scored 17 goals in just 23 appearances this season.
Despite his setback, Chelsea are believed to remain close to securing his services in 2023.
Mohamed Salah – right winger – Egypt
The Liverpool maestro couldn’t help but send his nation to back-to-back World Cups after missing his penalty in the shootout loss to Mane in the play-off.
Salah would have entered the tournament in scorching form having netted 14 goals and five assists this campaign.
Sadio Mane – left winger – Senegal
Mane had sent Senegal to Qatar after his penalty knocked out Egypt and former Liverpool team-mate Salah from the World Cup.
But in a cruel twist of fate, the Bayern Munich striker will play no role after picking up an injury while on duty at the club.
He was still selected for the team, who planned to use wizards to try to cure him.
After failing to shake off the blow, Senegal announced earlier in the week how they would miss the World Cup.
Erling Haaland – striker – Norway
The Manchester City sniper is arguably the most high-profile player to miss out on the World Cup after Norway failed to qualify.
Haaland has been Europe’s standout footballer this season where he currently leads Europe’s Golden Boot race.
He has scored 18 Premier League goals in just 13 outings in the English top flight.
talkSPORT World Cup 2022 coverage
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