It happens every World Cup. Some of the world’s best and most valuable footballers are left out. Their national teams are not up to their standards, so they fail to qualify. Or, in some cases, even if their countries did qualify, some players missed the finals because they were not called up or were injured before the competition. It has happened with big names. George Best never made it to a World Cup, same with Eric Cantona and David Ginola, Jari Litmanen, Ian Rush, Valentino Mazzola, Bernd Schuster, George Weah, Ryan Giggs, Laszlo Kubala or Alfredo Di Stefano are other notorious cases.
Obviously, it happened this time again. Just like Di Stefano and a few other names on the above list, the hottest footballer of the moment will miss the World Cup in Qatar. Erling Haaland, who recently overtook Kylian Mbappe to become the world’s most valuable footballer, valued at €170 million by transfermarkt.de, couldn’t be there even if he wanted to be. Norway didn’t qualify, so Manchester City’s star striker will be watching the competition on TV.
Here are the three most valuable footballers who will miss this World Cup:
1. Erling Haaland (Manchester City / Norway) – €170 million
As said before, the Norwegian in City’s attack will miss the World Cup for one basic reason: Norway didn’t qualify. Out of a group with the Netherlands, Turkey, Montenegro, Latvia, and Gibraltar, from which the Dutch qualified directly, and the “Ottomans” reached the play-offs, Norway finished 3rd, three points behind Turkey. The five goals scored by the striker who joined Manchester City from Dortmund this summer were not enough for his country’s national team. True, Haaland was injured and missed some of his country’s important group-stage duels, where his presence might have made a difference: Turkey – Norway 1-1 Norway – Latvia 1-1 or Netherlands – Norway 2-0.
The good news is that Erling Haaland is still “obscenely” young and will still have enough chances to qualify for a World Cup. Besides, he has talented and equally young teammates like Odegaard, Sorloth or Strand Larsen, which could be an asset in the future.
2. Mohamed Salah (Liverpool/Egypt) – €80 million
Liverpool star Mohamed Salah is in the same situation as Haaland. He’s the star of Egypt’s national team, but the rest of the squad isn’t quite up to his standards. That’s why the Pharaohs missed out on World Cup qualification after losing a play-off to Sadio Mane’s Senegal, his former Anfield team-mate. More frustrating for Salah is that this final tournament will be played in an Islamic state, where Egypt would have enjoyed massive support.
Missing out on qualification was more painful as Mohamed Salah was among three Egyptians to miss from the spot in the penalty shootout with Senegal. On the same penalties, Sadio Mane scored, taking his national team to the finals.
Unlike Haaland, however, who is still young, Salah is already 30 years old, and we can’t be sure he’ll get another chance at another World Cup. Also unlike Haaland, however, the Egyptian striker has already played in a World Cup, in 2018, where he also scored the only two goals for his team, which finished last in a group with Uruguay, Russia, and Saudi Arabia, with zero points.
3. Luis Diaz (Liverpool/Colombia) – €75 million
Another Liverpool striker, another disappointment. Luis Diaz didn’t make it to the final tournament in Qatar with Colombia, finishing 6th in the South American qualifying group, just one point behind the Peruvian national team who made the play-offs. The former FC Porto player, now a star for the Cormorants, scored three goals in the preliminaries, but it wasn’t enough. Like Haaland, however, Luis Diaz is helped by his age, at just 25, so he’ll probably get his chance to make it to a final tournament, perhaps even the one in four years’ time on the American continent