Brazil 2014: European Giants Must Remain Wary of Transfer Pitfalls

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Brazil 2014: European Giants Must Remain Wary of Transfer Pitfalls
Associated Press
Pele is widely regarded as the best player to ever play in a World Cup

The Maracana remains unfinished, and the problems that have been straining Brazil's preparations for the World Cup are still lingering, but soon the excitement will begin and the players will take centre stage, presenting European clubs with the perfect chance to snap up some big transfer talents. 

Perhaps the best shop window in world football, the World Cup gathers some of the most well-renowned names to a single destination and lets the action unravel for passionate fans worldwide to embrace with glee.

And with many of the most memorable moments in footballing history having unfolded on the biggest international stage of them all, it's little wonder many clubs look to it to discover the next big thing.

Recently, The Guardian chose Brazil legend Pele as the greatest World Cup footballer of all time. His selection underlines just how high the bar is but also how influential and inspirational a tournament it can be for so many emerging virtuosos. 

These players are sometimes lauded for the way they transcend the sport to reach into politics, history and the personal. At other times, they are enjoyed for the stand-alone beauty and sheer poetry of their play. They captivate us for a whole host of reasons, the varied instances littering our minds.

The list of the sport's greats who have left an ever-lasting mark on the fans' collective psyche is full to the brim with some legendary names and faces. But there is also room for players who have yet to fully bloom and come into their own; burgeoning talents, if you will. 

And all eyes of footballing directors and chairmen are sure to be fixated fully on this summer's football bonanza in the hope that they discover a new talent to take a punt on or a footballer who's rejigged his mojo—the possibilities are endless. 

Players such as Colombia's Eder Alvarez Balanta, Australia's Tomas Rogic and Ecuador's Enner Valencia have already been earmarked by many as ones to watch.

Considering there are quite a number of clubs going through some key alterations in the coming months, discovering an unknown goal scorer or an up-and-coming midfield general might just be the kick-starter certain club renaissances need. 

In England, Manchester United's Louis van Gaal is sure to have an army of scouts keeping tabs on promising players. And, as the Red Devils are such a massive name in the global game, don't be surprised to see headline after headline linking them with deals for nearly every breakthrough name in Brazil. 

After all, they can't all turn out to be the next Kleberson, a player who arrived at Old Trafford a World Cup winner and exited a flop.

Of course, United aren't the only ones attempting to restructure and re-build their club, as Tottenham Hotspur and Southampton will also be on the lookout for a selection of big-game performers to get their club's progress back on track.

In particular, young prospects are set to head nearly every title-chasing club's list of targets.

A source of longevity on the one hand and a risky choice on the other, it's often hard to pin down a player under 21 as a genuine talent or a flash in the pan.

But that's precisely why the World Cup is the best place to root them out—after all, if they can play out of their skin on one of the most daunting platforms of all, there's not much reason to doubt their ability.

Michael Steele/Getty Images
El Hadji Diouf's transfer to Liverpool did not end well

Or is there?

Not unlike the stadiums they'll line out in, the youthful products of today are not yet the finished article, but they have the potential to be; it might just take a bit of time, a hands-on approach and some patience.

After all, the World Cup might introduce these talents, but it doesn't make them. 

In truth, with European giants often falling over each other to secure a teenage sensation's signature, it's refreshing for them to be presented with a chance to eye them up before the speculation gets a chance to continually mount over months and months of coverage.

And there's often entertainment value in the sheer lottery of it all, too.

In the case of the World Cup, coming around once every four years allows transfers to be hammered out quite quickly after it's all ended. And while this can be an incredibly speedy means for clubs to get the players they want well before deadline day, it's also a sure-fire way for them to sign one-hit wonders and controversial figures, which is often not good for team spirit or performance.

Back in 2002, Senegalese international El Hadji Diouf made a huge splash at the Korea-Japan instalment. He proved instrumental in dismantling France on a scoreline of 1-0 on the opening day and played a huge part in guiding his club to the quarter-final stage.

He was quickly snapped up by Liverpool, but his fairytale move ended disappointingly. Diouf was permanently sold to Bolton Wanderers after a couple of underwhelming seasons and reckless actions for the Reds.  

His comments from a few years ago, as reported by the Daily Mail, underline exactly how bad for team morale and productivity an ill-judged World Cup transfer can turn out to be: 

When I played at Liverpool, Carragher could have talked to me then - but he didn't. He was jealous of me - that's why he talked about me. Because when I came to Liverpool I earned more than him and I was a bigger name than him. We didn't have a team at Liverpool. We had the English somewhere and the French boys somewhere. If it's like that, you can do nothing together.

Of course, not all transfers end up as real-life horror stories, as the successful and meteoric rise of both Carlos Tevez and Mesut Ozil will surely attest to.

Both players earned themselves big-money moves at a young age to give their careers the shot in the arm they needed. 

But who will be the next big player to snare a big-money move to a quality side and make it work? And just how many transfers made through August will be looked back on as disastrous?

Time will reveal all. But it would be wise for teams to recall just how skewed one's vision can get amidst all the pomp, ceremony and national pride that can sweep players into a frenzy of never-before-seen performances.

Sometimes it's genuine ability, but as long as there's a healthy dollop of pragmatism and level-headed thinking involved, many of this summer's rising stars might just be a few eye-catching goals away from super-stardom and years of success.

The World Cup has that effect, you know?

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