World Cup 2018: Top talent who missed out on Russia

Football fans around the globe breathed a sigh of relief on Tuesday after Lionel Messi’s stunning hat-trick ensured one of the world’s biggest stars would be appearing at next summer’s World Cup in Russia.

But for every Messi there was another superstar who didn’t make it.

FOX Sports Asia takes a look at some of the top players who won’t be in Russia come June.

Jan Oblak (Slovenia)
The Atletico Madrid stopper, voted La Liga’s best goalkeeper for the past two years, was denied a first World Cup appearance as Slovenia finished fourth in their qualifying group behind England, Slovakia and Scotland.

Antonio Valencia (Ecuador)
The 32-year old winger has been a revelation at Old Trafford since converting to wing-back last season, but his silky skills and attacking prowess will be missing in Russia after Ecuador enjoyed a disappointing qualification campaign, finishing eighth overall in CONMEBOL.

Virgil van Dijk (Netherlands)
Van Dijk missed out after the Netherlands could only finish third in UEFA qualifying Group A. The talented defender will now have all summer to finally secure a move away from the St. Mary’s after being denied the chance last year.

David Alaba (Austria)
Alaba has enjoyed great success at Bayern Munich, winning six Bundesliga titles and the Champions League, but he will miss out on a World Cup debut as Austria finished fourth in Group D behind Serbia.

Naby Keita (Guinea)
The Leipzig midfielder is the major star in the Guinea team, but unfortunately for him the rest of the squad cannot live up to the same standard. Keita’s side have won just one of their qualifying Group A games meaning he will have plenty of time to adjust following his upcoming summer move to Anfield.

Arturo Vidal (Chile)
A star of Chile’s last two World Cup campaigns, Bayern Munich lynchpin Vidal was suspended for Chile’s final match against Brazil as his team were beaten 3-0 and their elimination was confirmed.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan (Armenia)
Another player who is the stand out for his nation, the Manchester United midfielder’s efforts were not enough to inspire his teammates to greater heights as Armenia finished fifth out of six teams in UEFA qualifying Group E.

Gareth Bale (Wales)
Bale will miss out on the chance to repeat his Euro 2016 heroics after a final match defeat at home to the Republic of Ireland saw Chris Coleman’s side eliminated. Injury and Wales’ repeated failure to qualify may mean Bale will never have the chance to showcase his skills on the World stage.

Alexis Sanchez (Chile)
Another big miss for fans in Russia, Sanchez will miss the chance to torment the world’s defenders following Chile’s last-gasp elimination. The Arsenal star, however, may have other things on his mind as he tries to seal a rumoured switch away from the Emirates.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Gabon)
One of the top strikers playing in Europe, the Bundesliga goal-machine consistently finds the net at the domestic level. It’s just a shame that playing for Gabon means he will likely never get an opportunity to do so against the world’s best.

Christian Pulisic (United States)
A revelation for Dortmund, Pulisic did his best to inspire the USMNT, scoring a superb goal in the loss to Trinidad and Tobago that sealed the fate of Bruce Arena’s team. Pulisic, though, at least has time on his side and will surely get the chance one day to make his mark on the world stage.

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