With just a few sleeps to go until the 2022 World Cup, football fans are gearing up for a unique tournament in Qatar. Not only will this be the first winter edition of the World Cup, but it will mean the Premier League has its maiden winter break, with games not resuming until Boxing Day. As the table in England’s top flight finally starts to take shape, it looks as if Manchester City and Arsenal are the frontrunners for the title, but with so many international footballers in both sides, the restart could represent a change in momentum for both Pep Guardiola and Mikel Arteta.
While the Premier League possesses players from across the globe, including a rise of Brazilian imports as Tite’s side are favourites amongst FIFA World Cup bets to win in Qatar, there are also some stars that won’t be present. A combination of international inconsistency in qualifying and issues caused by the coronavirus pandemic has meant that several of the league’s best won’t be jetting off to the Middle East come the end of November. Read on, as we look at the Premier League’s best that will stay at home this winter.
Mohamed Salah – Liverpool
Last season’s Golden Boot winner, Mohamed Salah has failed to hit the extraordinary heights he set for himself this time last year, and it’s meant Liverpool have suffered a slow start to the season. At the time of writing the Reds are stuttering in mid-table and the loss of Luis Díaz until the start of 2023 will be a further blow, with Salah expected to carry the load in terms of goalscoring.
The Egyptian almost single-handedly dragged his country to the Russia World Cup four years ago but was unable to replicate the same miraculous form closer to home, with their Africa Cup of Nations loss swiftly followed by another penalty shoot-out defeat to Senegal in World Cup qualifying. It means Salah is left to watch from home in his prime years and considering he’ll be 34 by the time the next tournament rolls around, you wonder how big of an opportunity Liverpool’s talisman has missed.
Dejan Kulusevski – Tottenham Hotspur
Considering that Tottenham Hotspur still have an outside chance of winning the Premier League this season, it’s probably a good thing for Antonio Conte’s squad that winger Dejan Kulusevski is resting up throughout the World Cup.
The Swedish international made a permanent move to north London having impressed on loan initially last term from Juventus, and since trading Turin for Tottenham the 22-year-old has helped take Spurs to the next level. However, the dynamic attacker can only do so much by himself for his country, and injuries to Zlatan Ibrahimović and Emil Forsberg meant Sweden lost their play-off tie to Poland. Entering the next tournament in his prime, the future looks bright for Kulusevski but he’ll be left frustrated at the prospect of spending November checking World Cup 2022 news.
Erling Haaland – Norway
This season’s leading goalscorer, Erling Haaland has taken the Premier League by storm. Already notching 20 goals for Manchester City by early October, the Norwegian is simply a goal machine and the £65 million needed to acquire his services from Borussia Dortmund looks like a steal in the context of the current market. One caveat of the 22-year-old’s blistering start is that he’ll have to wait until at least 2026 until he can make his World Cup debut, with Norway missing out on the tournament to the Netherlands and Turkey in qualifying.
Dropping crucial points in their last two games saw Ståle Solbakken’s side finish third in the group, just three points away from Turkey despite Haaland scoring five goals in six games. It will be interesting to see just how many goals he finishes the season with for City, and given his current tally, it wouldn’t be surprising if the striker smashes every record imaginable.