Why isn’t Haaland playing? Top players who will miss Euro 2024 in Germany

From Norway’s Erling Haaland to England’s Marcus Rashford, here’s a list of star players who will not play at Euro 2024.

Football player looking at crowd while he walks.
Manchester City's Erling Haaland, counted among the best strikers in the world, will not be playing at football's Euro 2024 [Fredrik Varfjell/Reuters]

The UEFA European Championship 2024 will begin on June 14 with 24 teams competing for the right to be crowned champions of Europe.

Ahead of the month-long tournament, Al Jazeera takes a look at some of the high-profile players who are missing from the showpiece event in Germany.

Norway’s messy qualification leaves top duo stranded outside Euros

Arsenal captain Martin Odegaard narrowly missed out on winning the 2023-24 Premier League trophy, which was coincidentally lifted on the final day of the season by his good friend Erling Haaland’s Manchester City for a record fourth time in a row.

While Odegaard and Haaland enjoyed hugely impressive individual performances in the Premier League – and are beloved by their clubs and country – both will be forced to sit out the European summer after their nation, Norway, stunningly failed to qualify for Euro 2024.

Norway, who have not played in a major football tournament since 2000, and who, despite being stacked with these two superstar players, finished a disappointing third in their group in the qualifying phase behind Spain and Scotland, failed to secure an automatic berth. Later, their playoff hopes were extinguished as well.

Even a thumping six-goal haul by Haaland during the Euro 2024 qualifiers was not enough to earn Norway passage to the tournament, while Odegaard’s two-goal contribution from the midfield was evidently not enough to get his team over the hump.

With a talented squad also featuring Fredrik Aursnes, Oscar Bobb and Julian Ryerson, it’s fair to say that Norway is the biggest shock omission from the Euro 2024 tournament, and a huge disappointment for the millions of fans who follow this talented pair.

Two footballers celebrate goal.
Norway’s Erling Haaland celebrates a goal in happier times with Martin Odegaard [Christine Olsson/Reuters]

Manchester United duo miss England call after poor season

Misfiring forward Marcus Rashford was left out of Gareth Southgate’s provisional squad for the Euros, just a year and a half after his dynamic outing at the World Cup in Qatar.

The 26-year-old suffered a loss in form in 2023-24, registering a paltry eight goals in 43 games in all competitions – a huge drop from the 30 goals he scored in the previous season.

Rashford’s omission from the national football squad was undoubtedly the biggest shock to English fans, as he had been a familiar presence in Southgate’s squad for years.

Rashford was not the only player in Manchester United’s underachieving 2023-24 side who failed to make the England Euros squad.

Jadon Sancho’s difficult spell at Old Trafford in the first half of the season proved to be a deciding factor as Southgate left him out, too.

The star winger found his form on his return to Borussia Dortmund on a loan move in January, helping the German club earn a place in the Champions League final, but it came too late to get Sancho back in the Three Lions squad for Euro 2024.

Two football players substituting onto the playing field.
England’s Jadon Sancho (L) and Marcus Rashford won’t get a chance to avenge their Euro 2020 final loss to Italy at Wembley [Carl Recine/Reuters]

Pogba leaves a huge hole in France’s midfield

With his flashy, once-in-a-generation displays in midfield, the technically gifted Paul Pogba played a major role in France’s World Cup victory in 2018 but was forced to miss the 2022 edition in Qatar due to injuries.

Despite returning to fitness this season, Pogba will not play in the upcoming Euros after the Juventus midfielder was handed a four-year doping ban for testing positive for a banned drug.

The ban, which runs until September 2027, also puts the French superstar out of the next World Cup in 2026, effectively ruling out Pogba from the national team until he is in the twilight of his career at age 34.

Pogba’s absence in the midfield will be a huge blow for France, especially given his proven track record with the national team at major tournaments.

In Pogba’s absence, Eduardo Camavinga and Aurelien Tchouameni will try to fill the huge talent void in the French midfield.

Football player running on playing field.
France’s hopes of Euro 2024 glory were severely dented when Paul Pogba was handed a four-year doping ban [Daniele Mascolo/Reuters]

Austria’s Alaba will be at the Euros – but not on the field

Austria’s David Alaba was left out of coach Ralf Rangnick’s provisional squad due to an injury – but there was an unexpected twist to this story.

In an unusual decision, the defender will still be on the plane with the rest of the Austrian team to Germany and will play a role at Euro 2024.

Alaba, who played in two of Austria’s previous Euros appearances in 2016 and 2020, has been named a “nonplaying captain” by the national football federation after the 31-year-old stressed he wanted to be with the team at the tournament.

After a discussion with his club Real Madrid, Rangnick confirmed Alaba will travel with the Austrian squad, despite ongoing rehabilitation of an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) knee injury.

Alaba, known as a positive-minded, team-first player, will continue to play the captain’s role of squad leader and motivator at Euro 2024 – and one would now expect, he’ll also play the key role of head cheerleader from the sidelines.

Even without Alaba on the pitch, Austria has a star-studded squad including Marcel Sabitzer, Marko Arnautovic and Konrad Laimer as the small Alpine nation tries to qualify out of a tough group featuring France, Poland and the Netherlands.

Player rises to head a football towards goal.
Pre-injury, David Alaba was flying high for Austria on the football pitch. Now, he will support the team from the bench as a nonplaying captain at Euro 2024 [Matthias Schrader/AP]

Unlucky Gavi to miss out for Spain

Top-rated central midfielder Gavi, a regular for Barcelona and Spain, will not play for La Roja at the Euros as he, too, continues to recover from an ACL injury.

The 19-year-old picked up the knee injury during Spain’s Euro qualifier against Georgia in November.

Ruling him out until the start of the 2024-25 season, Barcelona were said to be furious with Spain coach Luis de la Fuente’s decision to play Gavi in that match, as his side had already sealed qualification for Euro 2024 in the previous game.

The coach, responding to a plethora of complaints over Gavi’s workload, lamented the unfortunate – some would say unnecessary – injury as “an accident, a misfortune”.

The young midfielder’s absence will be huge for Spain, though they have a good mix of youth and experience in the squad with Lamine Yamal, Rodri, Dani Carvajal and Aymeric Laporte all ready to step into the large shoes of Gavi.

Football player injured on ground.
Spain’s Gavi reacts after being injured in a Euro 2024 qualifying match against Georgia [Juan Medina/Reuters]
Player grimaces after injury.
Gavi will be hoping that Spain can win a record fourth Euros title without him in the team [Juan Medina/Reuters]

You can follow the action on Al Jazeera’s dedicated Euro 2024 tournament page with all the match build-up and live text commentary, and keep up to date with group standings and real-time match results and schedules.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies