World Cup Stars Who'll Be Playing for a Big Summer Transfer Deal
It is no coincidence that World Cup years often lead to intense transfer market activity. Rarely are so many top-quality players brought together in the same arena; and the result is a bonanza for managers and scouts looking for the next big talent.
But who will be the players on everybody's lips come the end of the next tournament in July 2014. The following 10 stars are better-placed than most to take the world by storm in Brazil. A successful tournament from any of those on the list will make them hot property in the coming transfer window.
Hotly tipped to star after completing a move in 2012 from Borussia Dortmund to Manchester United, things have never quite come together for Shinji Kagawa. Less than 50 appearances in almost his first two seasons mean that the Japan international has seen a lot of benches in his time at Old Trafford.
With the "Samurai Blue", however, the attacking midfielder remains the axis of the team, and he represents their best chance of success in Brazil. A strong World Cup would also help his current employers—and any other team that happens to be watching—notice exactly what he can do on the pitch.
Although just 20 years of age, Ross Barkley has already gained rave reviews from those around Everton. None more so than from own manager Roberto Martinez, who opined that the young midfielder reminded him of a frankly terrifying mix of Paul Gascoigne and Michael Ballack, per BBC Sport.
Martinez will no doubt be keen to hold on to his gem but with regular England appearances following an excellent 2013-14 season that may be easier said than done. If Barkley gets regular playing time, attention from the likes of Manchester United, City and Chelsea may be inevitable.
Even at the tender age of 20, Julian Draxler's talents are no longer a secret at Schalke. As failed negotiations with Arsenal during the winter transfer window may attest, however, the young German winger may need to show a little more to justify the astronomical valuation placed by his club, per Eliott Rothwell of the Daily Mirror.
This is where the World Cup comes in. Germany will start as one of the favourites in Brazil; and to prospective buyers, nothing will make Draxler more attractive an option than a winner's medal hung around his neck.
This young Australian talent failed to make his mark at Scottish giants Celtic, ending up back in the A-League representing the Melbourne Victory. In his home country, however, he is turning many heads and will be the creative force behind the Socceroos in Brazil 2014.
Just 21, Rogic's development was perhaps stifled in Scotland by a style of play and conditions not exactly tailored for delicate playmakers. He is one of the best prospects to come out of Australia in recent years, though and if he can turn on the World Cup magic, plenty of teams will be willing to take a gamble on his skills.
He may be playing on the slightly less illustrious side of Turin, but that has not stopped Alessio Cerci from turning heads in 2013-13. The former Roma starlet has struck up a great understanding with Ciro Immobile, contributing 11 of the partnership's 24 goals as Torino chase a place in Europe.
That form has helped the rapid 26-year-old, who had bounced around the Serie A without ever finding a permanent home, push his way into international contention. If he can stay fit, he will be almost certain to make the plane to Brazil; where he will have plenty of admirers.
Similarly to such stars as Cerci and Diego Costa, the current season is proving to be a productive one for Fiorentina hitman Giuseppe Rossi. After a long and weary battle with injuries the striker is in terrifying form, rocketing to the top of the Serie A scoring charts.
A knee complaint has slowed down his ascent in 2014 after smashing 14 goals in just 18 league matches. But Rossi will be fit for the Brazil World Cup; and if he can reproduce that same form in the signature blue of Italy, some of Europe's top clubs will no doubt be paying interest.
Powerful Zenit St. Petersburg forward Hulk has long been tipped for a move to one of the world's most prestigious football institutions. But the former Porto man has never quite been able to dispel the doubts that still surround his technique.
The Brazil international is nevertheless loaded with talent, and he is certain to play a big part in the Selecao's bid to lift the World Cup on home soil. Plenty of teams will be watching intently to see if Hulk can live up to the hype.
The case of Fernando Gago is a curious one. The stylish central midfielder has managed to cement a regular starting spot in the Argentine national team, one of the most talented groups of players in world football.
But when it comes to the club game, the current Boca Juniors man has struggled to make his mark in Europe's top leagues, jumping from short-term deal to short-term deal before returning to La Bombonera to reinforce his international credentials.
Gago is impressing alongside Juan Roman Riquelme in an otherwise underwhelming Boca side, but the World Cup will be his acid test. A strong tournament would once again endear the 27-year-old and propel him to another chance across the Atlantic Ocean.
Atletico Madrid forward Diego Costa has confirmed himself as one of the world's most prolific strikers over the course of the 2013-14 season. At the World Cup, the naturalised Brazilian will have the chance to show Spain that he can be the centre-forward who leads them to a second consecutive title.
Given the Colchoneros' recent renaissance under coach Diego Simeone, it is debatable whether Costa will be tempted to look for new climes after the tournament. But there is no doubt that Europe's biggest clubs will be attentive and a sparkling World Cup will raise his stock higher than ever.
When Porto resigned themselves in 2011 to the loss of Radamel Falcao, they did not have to look too far for his replacement. Jackson Martinez was drafted in to replace his countryman up front, and he immediately started to repay his employer's faith with a never-ending stream of goals.
With 52 strikes in 71 games for Porto, Martinez's ratio is spookily similar to that of El Tigre (72 in 87). Falcao is battling to return to fitness for the World Cup, but his replacement in Portugal is primed to lead the line for Colombia should he not arrive in peak condition.
If Martinez can reproduce his club form at international level, he could well see his stock rise ahead of the summer transfer window.