When can we expect to see World Cup stars back in domestic action?
Europe’s top leagues are set to resume, but it remains to be seen when the likes of Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe will return.
Qatar 2022 concluded in thrilling fashion on Sunday with Argentina’s penalty shoot-out win against France in the final and there is little time to draw breath before domestic leagues in Europe and South America return to action.
Here, the PA news agency takes a look at when some of the World Cup’s star players could be performing for their clubs again.
Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe (Paris St Germain)
PSG team-mates Messi and Mbappe crossed swords and set new records in one of the greatest World Cup finals in Lusail, but will soon be lining up alongside each other for their club. It remains to be seen if that will be at Parc des Princes for the capital club’s next Ligue 1 fixture against Strasbourg on December 28 or in their following game at Lens on New Year’s Day. Fellow club-mates and two of the tournament’s outstanding defenders, Morocco’s Achraf Hakimi and Brazil’s Marquinhos, could also feature for the Paris giants.
Emiliano Martinez (Aston Villa)
Argentina goalkeeper Martinez played a key role in his nation’s third World Cup triumph and he could be back in action for Villa in their home Premier League game against Liverpool on Boxing Day. Martinez, who kept out two penalties in Argentina’s quarter-final shoot-out win against the Netherlands, made a crucial save to deny France an extra-time winner in the final before his shoot-out mind-games proved influential. If Liverpool’s visit to Villa Park comes too soon, he may target Villa’s New Year’s Day trip to Tottenham for his return.
Harry Kane and Hugo Lloris (Tottenham)
Kane equalled Wayne Rooney’s all-time England scoring record in Qatar, but his tournament ended in despair as he failed to convert a second penalty in their 2-1 quarter-final defeat to France. Kane will hope to bounce back alongside Brazil’s Richarlison and South Korea’s Son Heung-min when Tottenham return to Premier League action at Brentford on Boxing Day. France captain Lloris may need longer to recover after Sunday’s shoot-out heartbreak, but could be back for Spurs’ home game against Aston Villa on New Year’s Day.
Jude Bellingham (Borussia Dortmund) and Josko Gvardiol (RB Leipzig)
Both England teenager Bellingham and Croatia defender Gvardiol emerged as world stars of the future at Qatar 2022. But neither player will be back in action for their respective German club sides until late January due to the Bundesliga’s annual winter break. Bellingham, who belied his 19 years to produce a series of dominant midfield displays during England’s path to the last eight, hopes to be back in action for Dortmund in their home game against Augsburg on January 22, while Gvardiol could line up for Leipzig in their home game against Bayern Munich on January 20.
Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid) and Sofyan Amrabat (Fiorentina)
Griezmann, whose influence from midfield proved pivotal for France in both their quarter-final defeat of England and last-four win over Morocco, is unlikely to appear for Atletico in the Spanish Copa del Rey against Arenteiro on Thursday, but could feature when they return to LaLiga action against Elche at home on December 29. Morocco’s midfield powerhouse Amrabat, whose box-to-box dynamism helped carry the Africans to the semi-finals, is scheduled to be back for club side Fiorentina’s home Serie A clash with Monza on January 4.