International Football

Transfer Scout: 20 Players from World Cup Qualifying Who Should Move in January

Allan JiangTransfers CorrespondentOctober 17, 2013

Transfer Scout: 20 Players from World Cup Qualifying Who Should Move in January

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    David Rogers/Getty Images

    Here are 20 players from FIFA World Cup qualifying who should move in the January transfer window.

    The key word being "should," so the point of this slideshow is to pinpoint players who would benefit from a January transfer.

    There is only one prerequisite for a footballer to be considered for this list: He has to have played at least one 2014 World Cup qualification match.  

Antonio Valencia (Ecuador/Manchester United)

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    Michael Regan/Getty Images

    The Antonio Valencia who reigned supreme over Bayer Leverkusen's ungainly left-back Sebastian Boenisch is what Manchester United management, players and supporters expect every game. 

    However, Valencia's discrepant displays is hindering Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney from receiving more goalscoring opportunities. 

    LEAGUE ONLYValencia '13-14Valencia '09-10
    Crossing %15.033.8
    Key Passes Per Game1.02.6
    Dribbles Per Game1.71.5

    Valencia's crossing has deteriorated drastically, so this is why at times he's essentially a second right-back. United management in recent memory have tried playing him at right-back to mixed results.  

    He has the work ethic and he's quick and selfless, but he is past his expiry date like Ashley Young.

    This is why 18-year-old phenom Adnan Januzaj, who scored twice against Sunderland, received so much adulation. Januzaj did more on the left wing in one game than Young had done the entire season. 

    Fortunately for Valencia, the player challenging his starting position is Nani, whose career is also on a downward spiral. 

    If Valencia moves to a club in January willing to make him their main weapon, then the transfer will work to his benefit. 

Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting (Cameroon/Mainz)

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    Ronny Hartmann/Getty Images

    Mainz vs. Hoffenheim. Twenty-five minutes into the game, Roberto Firmino and Kevin Volland have put Hoffenheim 2-0 up. 

    Mainz are in strife: Niki Zimling is losing out to Hoffenheim's David Abraham, yet when Zimling dinks past the defender and is tripped over, referee Wolfgang Stark waves play on. Shinji Okazaki is anonymous (as usual). Elkin Soto hasn't gone on one of his trademark runs. Nicolai Muller is off the pace.

    To make matters worse for Mainz manager Thomas Tuchel, Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting—the club's most dangerous playeris warming the bench.

    Once Choupo-Moting is subbed on, he changed the game. 

    He didn't just score, but he routinely caused havoc to the Hoffenheim defence. 

    When referee Stark ended the game, it was 2-2. 

    Choupo-Moting is 6'3", a superb dribbler, technically brilliant but hot and cold. 

    Should a major club take a calculated gamble on him and give him the freedom Gareth Bale enjoyed under Andre Villas-Boas, Choupo-Moting will turn into a superstar. 

Felipe Gutierrez (Chile/Twente)

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    Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

    Felipe Gutierrez is Twente's sparkplug in midfield. 

    He's made 33 tackles in nine games, coordinates Twente's attacks by averaging 69 passes per game and leads by example. 

    Kyle Ebecilio, the former Arsenal footballer and the 2011 UEFA.com Golden Player, needs to play with a sense of urgency like his teammate Gutierrez. 

    Ebecilio's fellow 19-year-old, Shadrach Eghan of Ghana, is also too nonchalant.

    Sometimes, the only Twente midfielder looking to win the ball is Gutierrez; hence why he leads the club in tackles and interceptions per game. 

    Ebecilio and Eghan are gifted in possession, but they need to improve their game without the ball. 

    Gutierrez could be a star for Chile at the FIFA World Cup, which would inflate his transfer fee and why signing him in January would be an intelligent investment.  

Gaston Ramirez (Uruguay/Southampton)

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    Atsushi Tomura/Getty Images

    Oh, how Bologna would love to have Gaston Ramirez back. The Italian club are languishing in the Serie A relegation zone with three points from seven games.

    Meanwhile, Ramirez is frustrated and unhappy with his current situation.

    Southampton manager Mauricio Pochettino prefers a strike partnership of Pablo Osvaldo and Rickie LambertThis means Ramirez can't be the deep-lying forward. While he's a technically better player than left attacking midfielder Steven Davis, Ramirez prefers playing centrally. 

    Ramirez is already plotting his exit.

    "Napoli is a possibility," said his agent Pablo Betancourt, from Napoli Calcio Live via ESPN FC. "Gaston really likes the [Southampton] chairman, Nicola Cortese, but not the coach, Pochettino."

    Is Napoli really a possibility? No. 

    Marek Hamsik, who's scored five times in six Serie A games this season, plays in Ramirez's position. 

Ivica Olic (Croatia/Wolfsburg)

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    Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

    At 34 years of age, Ivica Olic is still running around hacking opposing defenders for Wolfsburg. 

    He's the definition of trying hard and running till the final whistle. 

    Olic has scored four league goals, including one against third-placed Bayer Leverkusen, so he still has what it takes to be serviceable at the highest level.

    Even though he's contemplated about playing in the MLS or the UAE Arabian Gulf League, per Munchener Merkur via Thomas Zocher at Sky SportsOlic can do a job for a Premier League club trying to stay afloat.

Ji Dong-Won (South Korea/Sunderland)

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    Christopher Lee/Getty Images

    Ji Dong-Won was fodder for then-Sunderland manager Paolo Di Canio.

    "When you have the ball three yards from the opponent's goalline, and my player [Ji], rather than push his neck out to score a goal, retreats his neck because he is worried," said Di Canio, from PA Sport via Eurosport. "What can you do?"

    Aside from getting away with an offside stoppage-time winner against Manchester City last January, Ji hasn't enjoyed his time with Sunderland.

    He had some bright moments on loan at Augsburg last season, specifically a standout display against Eintracht Frankfurt when he combined brilliantly with Jan Moravek to register a brace. 

    Here's a suggested loan destination: Eintracht Braunschweig.

    No player has scored more than one league goal for Braunschweig, so Ji is more likely to win a starting position there than at Sunderland. 

Juan Manuel Vargas (Peru/Fiorentina)

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    Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images

    Juan Manuel Vargas hasn't been the same player since a cruciate knee ligament injury last April. It was his second knee ligament injury in recent years. 

    He can't sustain his aggressive and uptempo playing style, which is why it's unlikely he'll be an integral member of Fiorentina this season. 

    Vargas needs a fresh start. 

Karim Benzema (France/Real Madrid)

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    Julian Finney/Getty Images

    Karim Benzema out; Alvaro Morata in.

    Morata's wages account for fraction of what Benzema is earning at Real Madrid; however the 20-year-old Spaniard is outperforming the Frenchman off the bench.

    LEAGUE ONLYBenzema Morata
    Minutes Played Last 2 Games16037
    Goals/Assists0/11/1

    It is Morata's time to shine in the starting XI. 

    Benzema, 25, is down on confidence yet scored twice in five days for France, showing he's more at ease with Les Bleus than Real Madrid. 

    If Benzema cannot perform every match for Real, club president Florentino Perez will look to sell.

    Mesut Ozil was sold with no clear replacement, so Benzema could be on the trading block with Morata a logical successor. 

Keisuke Honda (Japan/CSKA Moscow)

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    Epsilon/Getty Images

    Keisuke Honda will be one of the most sought-after free agents when his contract at CSKA Moscow runs out.

    "I have now decided I will leave my club," said Honda, via FourFourTwo. "When the time comes, I will make a decision."

    When asked about AC Milan, Honda said: "They are an option, but not the only option."

    Milan have given Slovenian international Valter Birsa a go in the trequartista role. He's been OK but is more dangerous slipping out wide and sending in crosses.  

    Honda, a player with vision and a set-piece specialist, would be a natural fit at Milan especially when Birsa is just a squad player and Kaka can't stay healthy for an extended period of time.

Kossi Agassa (Togo/Stade Reims)

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    Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

    Kossi Agassa's relationship with the Togolese Football Association is complicated, which is why even a seemingly mundane process of selecting him becomes an issue. 

    It took a call from Togolese president Faure Gnassingbe to convince Agassa to turn up at the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations.

    Agassa's performance against Bordeaux, where he made eight saves and claimed four crosses, was world-class.

    France Football, the magazine that created the Ballon d'Or, currently ranks Agassa as Ligue 1's best goalkeeper. 

Lamine Sane (Senegal/Bordeaux)

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    Stu Forster/Getty Images

    Lamine Sane has made significant improvements since being involved in a 5-1 loss to a Morgan Amalfitano- and Kevin Gameiro-inspired Lorient in 2011. 

    Sane, a late bloomer, made his Ligue 1 debut at 22 years of age under the management of Laurent Blanc, one of France's greatest-ever defenders. 

    Sane has been a rock at the back, winning back possession 42 times while only committing two fouls, and is putting forward a case for prospective buyers. 

Nicklas Bendtner (Denmark/Arsenal)

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    Claudio Villa/Getty Images

    Nicklas Bendtner has scored eight of his last 10 goals from either headers or penalties. He's wasted a large portion of his career being unprofessional, petulant and lazy. 

    A brace of headers against Italy and Portugal whilst not even playing regular football makes you wonder how great he'd be if he was dedicated to the game. 

    A loan away from Arsenal in January will depend how long it takes Bendtner to irk Arsene Wenger.

Nosa (Nigeria/Real Betis)

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    EuroFootball/Getty Images

    Real Betis have three valuable young assets: 19-year-old wide attacking midfielder Alvaro Vadillo, 21-year-old wide attacking midfielder Cedric and 22-year-old box-to-box midfielder Nosa, who's also played on the left flank. 

    Vadillo, the most hyped of the three, has yet to score in league play and doesn't do much. 

    Cedric had one great game against Real Madrid and has been missing in action since. 

    Nosa is the player whose performances are saying: "Look at me."

    He's a strong presence in midfield, keeps it simple in possession and has got himself into several good goalscoring positions. 

     

Ola Toivonen (Sweden/PSV)

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    Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

    Ola Toivonen's career is panning out like Artem Milevskiy, as "tantalising" is the ideal word to describe both players. They can trap the ball instantly, swivel past an opposing defender and thread a through ball for their teammates. 

    But neither have turned out to be out-and-out goalscorers or world-class No. 10s. 

    Focusing on Toivonen, his future at PSV is bleak because management are focusing on the young. 

    PSV's future front three is 17-year-old wing sensation Zakaria Bakkali (yes, another Belgian), 19-year-old goal-poacher Jurgen Locadia and 19-year-old highlight-reel dribbler Memphis Depay.

Oscar Cardozo (Paraguay/Benfica)

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    Michael Steele/Getty Images

    Oscar Cardozo is one of those players who defy the eye test.

    He looks clumsy, has no pace, heavily reliant on his teammates and is a volume shooter. With 33, 28, 23 and 38 goals in his last four completed seasons, Cardozo is one of the most prolific No. 9s in Europe. 

    According to his agent, he could be a Barcelona player. 

    Guess the agent forgot about Zlatan Ibrahimovic's time at Barca. 

    If Cardozo signs with a Premier League club, he'd be instantly transferred into any serious fantasy Premier League player's team. 

Perparim Hetemaj (Finland/Chievo)

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    Dino Panato/Getty Images

    Since last November, Perparim Hetemaj has served three suspensions for yellow card accumulation.

    You're probably thinking Hetemaj is just another rugged midfield enforcer. 

    That's partly correct, but he's good enough with the ball to surge past opposing players, keep control of the ball and create shots for his teammates. This year, he's registered assists against Napoli and Juventus.

    He'd be a good addition for a mid-tier Premier League team.

Saber Khalifa (Tunisia/Marseille)

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    Gallo Images/Getty Images

    Premier League clubs should be targeting Saber Khalifa, who is an immensely gifted forward but a fringe player at Marseille.

    Marseille have Andre-Pierre Gignac and Jordan Ayew vying for the centre-forward role. 

    Mathieu Valbuena is the No. 10, which further limits Khalifa, who can play behind the No. 9, from starting. 

    Last season for Evian, Khalifa scored 13 times in only 21 starts and was on pace to reach 20 goals if not for an injury. 

Sofiane Feghouli (Algeria/Valencia)

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    David Ramos/Getty Images

    If there was a list of the worst La Liga players right now, Sofiane Feghouli would be on it. 

    When Feghouli doesn't press, you know something is wrong. He has yet to score in La Liga or create a goal this season. 

    From a subjective standpoint, he's played with no passion, hasn't shown any desire to get stuck in and floats around the pitch. 

    What happened to the Feghouli who once scored against Bayern Munich?

    He responded well to former manager Mauricio Pellegrino, who always started Feghouli—something current manager Miroslav Djukic hasn't been doing. 

    With the emergence of Fede, it might be time for Feghouli to return to Ligue 1, where he played for Grenoble.

Toby Alderweireld (Belgium/Atletico Madrid)

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    David Rogers/Getty Images

    Toby Alderweireld has been a nonfactor in Atletico Madrid's campaign thus far. 

    He's essentially a squad filler for Martin Demichelis, who jumped ship after signing for Atleti and is now on the books of Manchester City. 

    If Atletico manager Diego Simeone continues to not use Alderweireld, then clubs needing either a right-back or centre-back should be queuing up for the Belgian's signature. 

Zvjezdan Misimovic (Bosnia and Herzegovina/Guizhou Renhe)

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    Lintao Zhang/Getty Images

    How much are Guizhou Renhe paying Zvjezdan Misimovic?

    When Edin Dzeko and Grafite combined for 54 league goals during Wolfsburg's triumphant 2008-09 Bundesliga campaign, Misimovic's 20 assists is often consigned to trivia questions. 

    The Grafite-Dzeko partnership netted four of Wolfsburg's five goals in their memorable 5-1 win over Bayern Munich, yet it was Misimovic who orchestrated play. 

    People forget that because the most vivid memory of that match was Grafite weaving his way past two Bayern players, evading goalkeeper Michael Rensing and then scoring with a backheel.

    Misimovic has always had Matt Le Tissier-like sloth speed, so don't worry about the Bosnian's unaesthetic build. 

    Misimovic still can conjure up moments of magic, which is why he's played an important part in Bosnia and Herzegovina reaching their first-ever FIFA World Cup. 

    It will be a coup if a Premier League club signs Misimovic.

     

    Statistics via WhoScoredFFT Stats ZoneSquawka and Transfermarkt 
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