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Here are 10 stars that won’t be at the World Cup in Russia next summer

It just won’t be the same without them.

Arjen Robben and Gianluigi Buffon are among a host of star players that won't be at the World Cup.
Arjen Robben and Gianluigi Buffon are among a host of star players that won't be at the World Cup.

THE 2018 WORLD Cup in Russia is exactly seven months away and with qualification nearing its conclusion many country’s are now getting excited about what lies ahead.

However it will be a World Cup unlike ones of recent past, as it will take place without Italy, Holland and the United States, among others.

A number of world football’s most elite stars and loved veterans will not be present, but as it always has done in the past this will give rise for legends to be forged and new stars to be born. Sadly, the show will go on without them.

Gianluigi Buffon

Soccer WCup 2018 Italy Sweden Source: AP/PA Images

Perhaps the most noticeable absentee next summer will be the legendary Juventus goalkeeper. The veteran will turn 40 in January and had announced earlier this year that he would officially retire following the conclusion of the 2018 World Cup.

Neither he nor the footballing public had properly anticipated the prospect that Italy would not be there in Russia next summer.

But following last night’s play-off exit to Sweden Buffon’s international retirement was sadly confirmed with regretful tears as the country failed to make it the finals for the first time since 1958.

Daniele De Rossi


It was the end of the line for a host of Italy legends at the San Siro on Monday night.

Following the final whistle of their 0-0 draw with Sweden it was confirmed that all of Gianluigi Buffon, Giorgio Chiellini, Daniele De Rossi and Andrea Barzagli would be hanging up their boots.

De Rossi’s absence in Russia will be keenly felt as one of three remaining members of the side which claimed the World Cup in 2006.

Indeed the Roma enforcer cast a frustrated figure on the bench at San Siro during Monday’s stalemate.

When an Italy coach gestured for the player to prepare to come on with two goals required, De Rossi is reported to have said: “why the hell should I go on? We don’t need to draw here, we need to win!”.

The 34-year-old’s fire and passion will be sorely missed.

Christian Pulisic

Christian Pulisic scores Source: Mark Thorstenson

The Borussia Dortmund playmaker was the sole source of inspiration on a dreadful night for US soccer in their 2-1 defeat to Trinidad and Tobago, scoring what proved to be a consolation as his side failed to qualifying for the World Cup for the first time since 1986.

The 19-year-old penned a heartfelt article earlier this week admitting that missing the World Cup had been hard to take for a player who dreamed of scoring with the last kick of the game to deliver his country a first ever title.

“Playing for the U.S. in the World Cup has been my dream ever since I can remember,” he wrote.

World Cup Final … minute to go … ball on Pulisic’s foot … and he scoooores! — that’s what I would dream about. For me, that’s always been the pinnacle of what I could accomplish in this sport.”

Long dubbed a ‘wonderkid’ since making his Dortmund debut at 17, the chance to see Pulisic set the world alight with his wonderful attacking brilliance will be a major miss for all.

Alexis Sanchez

Russia: Portugal v Chile: Semi-Final - FIFA Confederations Cup Russia 2017 Source: SIPA USA/PA Images

Alongside mainstays Holland, Italy and the USA, Chile will be another notable absentee from Russia next summer, with their leading talisman Sanchez kicking himself he will miss out on the tournament playing alongside football’s elite.

His side made it the knockout stages at Brazil in 2014 and were crowned back-to-back Copa America champions in 2015 and 2016, on top of making it to last summer’s Confederations Cup final.

Sanchez has earned as much silverware for his country as he has done during his time at the Emirates. Long held as one of the Premier League’s premier talents, the 28-year-old’s explosiveness will be missed in Russia as he reaches his peak years.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

CAN - Cameroun Vs Gabon - Libreville Source: Liewig Christian/ABACA

Ranked 92nd in the world, Gabon managed just one win in their six group qualifiers. Pitted in a group alongside Morocco and the Ivory Coast their chances of making it to Russia, even with one of Europe’s most prolific strikers at their disposal was always going to be a tough ask.

Aubameyang pipped Robert Lewandowski to the Bundesliga golden boot last season with a remarkable 31 goals in 32 appearances as Borussia Dortmund finished third and claimed a DFB Pokal cup title.

The striker has never played at a World Cup finals before and despite hosting this year’s Africa Cup of Nations his side were unable to make it out of their group either.

The 28-year-old has scored 10 goals in 11 league appearances already in the Bundesliga this season, but will not be present in Russia.

Gareth Bale

Wales v Austria - 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying - Group D - Cardiff City Stadium Source: David Davies

Irish fans will take some glee in the Real Madrid forward’s absence from the World Cup next summer.

Bale could do nothing but watch on as his side were cast aside by a solitary strike from the boot of James McClean in Cardiff, meaning Martin O’Neill’s side dramatically pipped Wales to that all-elusive play-off spot.

The winger led his country to the semi-finals of the 2016 European Championships, with many expecting Chris Coleman’s side, ranked 14th in the world, to build on that feat by making an impact on the world stage two years later.

He will have to be content with continued success in Madrid.

Arturo Vidal

Russia: Chile v Germany: Final - FIFA Confederations Cup Russia 2017 Source: SIPA USA/PA Images

Joining countryman Sanchez on the list is the industrious Bayern Munich midfielder.

Vidal, too, has enjoyed immense success for Chile since making his international debut in 2007, winning consecutive Copa America titles as well as finishing runners’-up at the 2017 Confederations Cup.

Following his side’s failure to draw with Brazil in their final CONMEBOL qualifier last month, meaning Peru made it to a World Cup play-off on goal difference, Vidal announced his international retirement, despite turning 30 last May.

This before backtracking on that statement just a day later, saying: “It is tough. But this is not the end of anything. Not the end of a generation, nor this team nor least the end of our dreams. We have much to fight for.”

The road to Qatar 2022 awaits for Vidal and Chile.

Arjen Robben

World Cup 2014 - Semi final - Netherlands vs Argentina Source: DPA/PA Images

Alongside Buffon, Robben is another tough addition to the list of absent stars which will not feature on the world stage in Russia in exactly seven months’ time.

The Netherlands captain confirmed his international retirement following his side’s failure to comprehensively beat Sweden by seven goals on 10 October — winning 2-0 with both goals from Robben.

The Bayern Munich star has won everything there is to win in club football but will never boast a World Cup winners’ medal to that collection, after the Netherlands were beaten by Spain in the 2010 final in South Africa.

Those two chances missed by Robben in Johannesburg will forever be a source of regret for the 33-year-old.

Giorgio Chiellini

Italy v Spain - UEFA Euro 2016 - Round of 16 - Stade de France Source: Martin Rickett

It is cruel fate that the immovable Juventus defender will never call himself a world champion. That memorable summer in Germany when his countrymen were storming their way to the title in 2006, Chiellini was captaining Italy in the 2006 Uefa European Under-21 Championship where they failed to make it out of their group.

The highest honours the centre back earned for the Azzurri were bronze medals at the 2004 Olympics and the 2017 Confederations Cup, as well as a runners up medal at the 2012 European Championships.

The defender called time on his international career following Monday’s 0-0 draw with Sweden, meaning yet another staple of international football over the last decade will remain at home next summer.

David Alaba

EURO 2016 - Group F Iceland vs. Austria Source: DPA/PA Images

Another inclusion that will receive no sympathy from Irish supporters, Alaba will be at home next summer after Austria’s failure to make a play-off spot ahead of Ireland in Group D during a terribly disappointing campaign from his side.

The man who put the final nail in the coffin of Ireland’s hopes four years ago under Giovanni Trapattoni has yet to make an appearance at a World Cup and will have to keep on waiting at least until Qatar in 2022.

Alaba can’t take all of the responsibility for his nation’s disappointment, however.

Austria did not make it to the world stage despite finishing ahead of Ireland in 2014 and, in fact, have failed to make any of the last five competitions, with their last appearance coming in France in 1998.

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Aaron Gallagher

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