I'm not saying a World Cup without Messi can't be good. I'm not saying I want FIFA to help Argentina cheat. I'm not saying this because I'm a Messi fan, but calling him a "household name" is an understatement. I would think way more people (including people who aren't soccer fans) around the world could tell you the national team and club for Messi than for players you named like Alaba and Yarmolenko. What player was the best at the start of any World Cup his team didn't qualify for, and was that player as good then as Messi is now?