There is always an inherent risk in buying a player that’s coming off a good World Cup. Few things can sway a scout more than a blinding tournament performance, but the clubs looking to snap up the star performers from Brazil 2014 may want to curb their enthusiasm. One month’s worth of quality play won’t necessarily transfer over to the next season, and then even if it does, multiple seasons of quality are far from guaranteed. Just look at Andrey Arshavin’s career. In a post-Cup landscape transfer fees are massively inflated, demand is increased tenfold and the giddy rush of a World Cup will no longer be an available stimulant for a player. It is a time that separates the genuine talents from the one-hit wonders. That said, fantastic rough diamonds are indeed uncovered during big international tournaments and big clubs should really snap them up. Like I said, it’s a gamble.
A number of players have considerably raised their stock during their time in Brazil. There have been the unknowns that have entered into the international football consciousness; Australia’s Matthew Leckie, Costa Rica’s Joel Campbell, Cote d’Ivoire’s Serge Aurier. Others were already well known but have used the tournament to establish themselves in the the top tier of players; James Rodriguez and Toni Kroos being two examples. Then, players with some good performances in individual games have caught they eye. Daley Blind, Memphis Depay, and Divock Origi, to name a few. These players have a springboard opportunity now. Let’s look at the prospects of a few of these post-World Cup movers.
Arsene Wenger will be very happy at the moment; for one, he’s just signed Alexis Sanchez, who impressed hugely with his dynamic displays for Chile in Brazil. But Arsene, the old Arsene who was, let’s say, fiscally responsible (before Ozil and Sanchez) may be even happier with the emergence of Costa Rican Joel Campbell. The midfielder has been on the loan pilgrimage that so many young players have to endure, the beginnings of which were because of work permit issues. But he was sent to Olympiacos last season even though the permit issues were no longer an obstacle, and he played well there, particularly in the Champions League. This, along with his excellent performances in the group stage matches for Costa Rica, the tournament Cinderella team, have further increased his chances of breaking into the first team at the Emirates. Sanchez’s arrival has obviously affected Campbell’s first team hopes, but a move for Loic Remy has stalled recently which may be a good sign for the 22 year old. A place in Wenger’s team is the best case scenario for Campbell but he will hope not to be shipped out to another lower European league again this season, at the very least. Perhaps a loan to a mid-table Premier League team is on the cards.
One of the few Belgian players to come out of the World Cup with an improved reputation, this muscular 19 year old striker is heavily linked to a move to Liverpool. Brendan Rogers has a gaping Luis Suarez-shaped hole to fill and the Lille striker would help to at least partially occupy the void. Very quick, a direct dribbler and good in the air, the Belgian draws comparisons to Danny Welbeck, armed additionally with what looks like a more clinical knack for finishing. He has a tremendous work rate and can play in wider positions, perfect if Liverpool plan on playing Daniel Sturridge centrally next season. Tottenham are also making eyes at Origi, so Brendan Rodgers ought to push through a deal as soon as possible. Liverpool are certainly not short on cash, and at only 19, Origi is a superb investment that can only improve.
The striker from Ecuador scored three times at the World Cup and has been on a good run at his Mexican club Pachuca since his transfer there last year, scoring 18 goals in 23 appearances. Having just completed a reported £12 million transfer to West Ham United, his transition to the Premier League will be an interesting one to watch next season. He is a very strong and direct dribbler, very good in the air (essential for an Allardyce signing) and has a thunderbastard of a shot. He will be able to play in lieu of, and conjunction with, Andy Carroll, and West Ham fans who had to endure the retina-destroying sight of Modibo Maiga lining up in the claret and blue will be relishing this recent attacking addition.
Toni Kroos and James Rodriguez
Two of the biggest stars of the World Cup, these two players were crucial to their team’s campaigns. Rodriguez led his team all the way to the quarter finals, scoring a Golden Ball-winning 6 goals along the way, and making his €45 million transfer to Monaco last season seem like a bargain buy. Kroos, of course, was arguably Germany’s best player, a composed and creative force in midfield who shone consistently as Die Nationalmannschaft won their fourth World Cup. Both players have subsequently turned the engorged, bulging head of Real Madrid, who in them sees potential (even current) Galacticos. Kroos has confirmed publically that a move to Madrid is completed, but his agent poured cold water on the suggestion soon after. Rodriguez has come out and said that the current Champions League holders are the “club of his dreams” and that he would “jump at the chance to join Cristiano Ronaldo”. Real are prepared to offload Angel Di Maria to PSG to accommodate one or both of these stars, though one feels it may require more counter-balancing than Di Maria alone. Isco’s nails are being bitten down to the root as we speak. If any club can wrangle such an mind-blowingly expensive double transfer, it’s Real Madrid, and they will be immeasurably strengthened if they can manage it because Kroos and Rodriguez are undoubtedly two of the very best players in the world right now.
The 20 year old PSV Eindhoven winger scored twice off the bench for Holland in Brazil, and has been a constant young-gun transfer prospect for a while now. His good World Cup, as well as Louis van Gaal’s new job, may well push him over the edge into making a move in the coming months. The ex-Holland manager will be intimately aware of Depay’s qualities and might see him as a good replacement for Nani, who may be leaving Manchester United. Depay has quick feet, is a willing and quality long distance shooter and, unlike Nani, has a Dutch-honed mind for intricate and unselfish passing. Wayne Rooney would very much enjoy linking up with him and an attacking quartet of van Persie, Rooney, Januzaj and Depay under van Gaal would really be a prospect to get excited about. Because of van Gaal, a move to United seems the most likely to happen, though apprently Spurs and Manchester City are sniffing about as well. Depay may well opt to stay in Holland; he is still young and might want to further improve in the Eredivise before moving abroad. PSV will certainly be keen to keep hold of him so, though valued at around €5 million, a fee for him would certainly be in the €10-€15 million area.
A new chapter awaits for all these players, and many more, in this post-World Cup landscape. They must choose whether or not to begin it and only time will tell us whether or not the story has a fairytale ending.