William Carvalho & 10 Midfielders with Rising Stocks in World Football
As we enter the final stretch of the European season, all sorts of players are attempting to impress in a last-ditch attempt to make their respective teams' World Cup squad or attract a potential transfer.
We've picked out 10 midfielders—coming in all shapes and sizes, from wingers to anchors and back again—who have improved their own stock in the last few months and look much better propositions than they were before.
Spotted someone else who's in red-hot form? Drop his name in the comments below!
All statistics are from www.WhoScored.com.
WIlliam Carvalho, Sporting
According to The Mirror's weekend report, William Carvalho will be joining Manchester United for £37 million after the 2014 World Cup this summer.
The Portuguese anchor is the perfect fit for any defensive midfield-needy team and stands to become one of Europe's premier players in the years to come.
He's physically, technically and tactically developed. You can read more about his playing style here.
Roberto Firmino, Hoffenheim
Hoffenheim are nothing if not hugely entertaining to watch, and Roberto Firmino's mazy dribbling is a prime reason for that.
The Brazilian is one of a number of punts the German club have taken in the South American market, and despite the likelihood of a hefty, hefty price tag, top clubs continue to show interest.
As per The Metro, Chelsea and Liverpool have scouted him.
Juan Guillermo Cuadrado, Fiorentina
Juan Guillermo Cuadrado has continued to excite us with his intense dribbling ability this season, only in comparison to last year he's stitched together a little more consistency in his showings.
He's a player every Serie A defender hates taking on one vs. one, and with the likes of Juventus and Manchester United looking needy in the right-wing department this summer, Cuadrado has been able to move to the top of everyone's initial shopping lists very quickly.
Andre Hahn, Augsburg
According to The Mirror, Aston Villa have sent scouts to check in on Andre Hahn of Augsburg recently.
The right-winger has developed a habit of having a decisive impact on games, contributing 10 goals and five assists from 25 Bundesliga appearances so far this season.
Augsburg, in eighth, have been Germany's surprise package this season, and Hahn's powerful play is a major factor as to why.
Miralem Pjanic, Roma
This season, Miralem Pjanic has blossomed into the difference-maker we desperately wanted.
Coming through at Metz he was sensational, but at Lyon his time was marred by poor showings and ailments. For Roma he's always been decent, but across the 2013-14 campaign he has truly come into his own.
He scores, creates, looks full of energy and—perhaps most importantly—possesses a deep desire to lead the Giallorossi to the highest possible Serie A finish.
Grzegorz Krychowiak, Reims
Grzegorz Krychowiak is hidden away in Reims' starting XI so the rest of Europe don't get to enjoy his talents.
The Polish enforcer should be attracting interest from some of England's bigger clubs and would do a fantastic job in holding midfield for a team like Aston Villa.
He's strong, mobile, has an eye for goal and surges forward superbly.
Yoichiro Kakitani, Cerezo Osaka
Yoichiro Kakitani is an exciting young central midfielder with tricky feet and an eye for goal.
He's made great strides in his short career so far and used the last six months to fire in an array of goals and earn nine caps for Japan under Alberto Zaccheroni.
According to Chris Atkins of ESPNFC, he's a certainty to go to Brazil and could well be headed for a European transfer sometime soon.
Daniel Baier, Augsburg
If Andre Hahn's goals have been key to Augsburg's rise in the Bundesliga this season, then Daniel Baier has been just as important at the other end of the pitch.
He anchors the formation and breaks up play superbly, averaging 3.8 tackles and 3.8 interceptions over the course of 26 league showings.
The numbers are impressive, but better yet his instincts and awareness show up on film to complement them.
Kevin Strootman, Roma
Kevin Strootman has been ruled out for the rest of the season, so how is it possible for his stock to rise as a result?
Well, absence makes the heart grow fonder, and just take one look at the reaction to his injury—from both Roma and Netherlands fans—to see how much his reputation has grown over the last six months.
He was one of three players guaranteed to start for the Dutch at the World Cup, and the Giallorossi are now conceding goals that a fan might point out "wouldn't have gone in had Strootman been on the pitch."
When he returns, he'll be better than ever.
Ander Iturraspe, Athletic Club
Ander Iturraspe was once the big question mark in midfield for Athletic Bilbao, his lumbering nature not suited to Marcelo Bielsa's system at all.
But under Ernesto Valverde, he's been reinvented as an anchor midfielder and it suits his somatotype and range far, far better.
He's the consensus best player for the team so far this season, with he and Mikel Rico both enjoying serious renaissance campaigns.