Bale, Dzeko, Sanchez headline stars on World Cup sidelines
Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo just made it. Gareth Bale, Edin Dzeko and Alexis Sanchez weren’t as fortunate.
While only 23 of the 32 qualifiers for next year’s World Cup have been determined, there’s already a long list of high-profile players who have missed the cut.
Here’s a 3-4-3 lineup of some of the biggest names who will be watching the action in Russia from the sidelines:
Jan Oblak, Slovenia: The most expensive goalkeeper in the Spanish league at Atletico Madrid, the 24-year-old Oblak was included in the last two Champions League squads of the season.
Antonio Valencia, Ecuador: A reliable, hard-to-pass, attacking right back and captain for Manchester United, Valencia plays in midfield for Ecuador.
Virgil van Dijk, Netherlands: An imposing center back for Southampton, Van Dijk has been targeted for a transfer by Premier League rivals Liverpool and Chelsea.
David Alaba, Austria: This versatile left back has been a regular for Bayern Munich for the past six years.
Arturo Vidal, Chile: Part of Chile’s golden generation that helped the team to the 2015 and 2016 Copa America titles, the 30-year-old Vidal retired from his national team after a 3-0 loss to Brazil left Chile out on goal difference.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Armenia: A top assist man at Manchester United, Mkhitaryan is one of the most creative players in the Premier League.
Arjen Robben, Netherlands: Another Bayern Munich veteran who announced his international retirement after a failed qualification campaign, Robben won the bronze ball award when he helped the Netherlands to the 2010 World Cup final.
Christian Pulisic, United States: A player with the potential to become the U.S. team’s first real international standout, the 19-year-old Pulisic has already broken a series of “youngest” records with Borussia Dortmund and the United States.
Alexis Sanchez, Chile: Another member of Chile’s golden generation, Sanchez has been an able scorer wherever he’s gone, from Udinese in Serie A to Barcelona in Spain and now in his fourth season at Arsenal in the Premier League.
Edin Dzeko, Bosnia and Herzegovina: Last season’s Serie A scoring leader at Roma, this old-fashioned center forward is a lethal finisher.
Gareth Bale, Wales: A multi-talented threat for Real Madrid, Bale led Wales to the semifinals of last year’s European Championship — which remains his only major international tournament.
AP Sports Writer Steve Douglas in Manchester, England contributed.
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