Players' World Cup Performances Not Always a Mark of Quality

Charlie Melman@@charliemelmanCorrespondent IIJune 24, 2014

FORTALEZA, BRAZIL - JUNE 14:  Joel Campbell of Costa Rica celebrates scoring his team's first goal with the ball under his jersey during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group D match between Uruguay and Costa Rica at Castelao on June 14, 2014 in Fortaleza, Brazil.  (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
Michael Steele/Getty Images

During any major tournament, but especially a World Cup as consistently thrilling as this one, it is all too easy to be wooed by a flash in the pan.

There is always a potential rationale to be found. A spurt of technical quality here, an exquisite finish there, an amazing save in a game or two and suddenly any given player can be on the transfer list of an elite club.

Clubs do monitor players' performances at the World Cup, of course, attempting to find hidden gems and bargain pickups that will pay dividends in the future.

Mesut Ozil is a prime example. After seeing him shine at a young age as the centerpiece of Germany's attack during the 2010 World Cup, Jose Mourinho decided he had to sign him and snatched him away from Werder Bremen.

The mere possibility of a club signing a player based on his World Cup performance is more than enough for the rapacious press, which never fails to latch onto the faintest whiff of the public's interest in a player. Quality equals interest equals clicks on their website equals advertising revenue.

BRASILIA, BRAZIL - JUNE 19: Serge Aurier of the Ivory Coast controls the ball during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group C match between Colombia and Cote D'Ivoire at Estadio Nacional on June 19, 2014 in Brasilia, Brazil.  (Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Ima
Adam Pretty/Getty Images

It's a very simple formula, and one I frequently decry in my articles about transfer rumors and speculation of that sort. There has been more and more guff over the years, and many stories nowadays are outright false.

Arsenal fans are especially vulnerable to this trap. Arsene Wenger is always so boring and frugal in the transfer market that supporters are desperate for any hint of glamor or activity in general. Consequently, the Internet is flooded with various transfer rumors daily.

These stories obviously intensify in number and speciousness during a major tournament like the World Cup.

Serge Aurier is the archetype. He was linked with the Gunners before the World Cup started, but the stories have come thick and fast following a couple of pretty good showings for the Ivory Coast. Anything other than horrific displays would undoubtedly cause "journalists" to start typing away.

Yet people quickly forget that Aurier is a 21-year-old who has never played for a better team than Toulouse of Ligue 1.

Sure, he might be a typical Wenger signing, but all he's really showed on the international stage so far are a few good crosses and some suspect defensive ability. Does he look considerably better than Carl Jenkinson? Clearly not.

NORWICH, ENGLAND - MAY 11:  Arsene Wenger manager of Arsenal looks on during the Barclays Premier League match between Norwich City and Arsenal at Carrow Road on May 11, 2014 in Norwich, England.  (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)
Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

The same core principle holds for Mario Balotelli. Is it even remotely possible that, if Arsenal are interested, they have not been scouting him for some time, possibly years? No way—Wenger operates in a very calculated way and is not seduced into impulse purchases.

Perhaps Arsenal are looking at the Italian powerhouse to shore up an attack that clearly cannot hack it with only Olivier Giroud to carry the burden at striker. But just as the Gunners are evaluating his performances for AC Milan last season, the casual fan should too before irrationally getting excited over a transfer.

Caution must be urged on every player, for all of the evidence we're seeing in Brazil is the epitome of anecdotal. However, players like Joel Campbell, who generate a lot of hype but actually have some track record to speak of, deserve more attention.

Campbell, for example, has already shown he does not shy away from big occasions. His clinical demolition of Manchester United in the Champions League is evidence enough, although we still have not seen nearly enough of him to label him an established player.

Take caution even when watching reputed stars take the pitch. Mesut Ozil, Olivier Giroud, et al might shine for their respective nations or lay an egg. The key is to remember that the sample size is extremely small and the pressure is suffocating.

So, in essence: Temper your reactions and simply enjoy the exquisite football on offer. Que sera, sera. You'll find you're much happier that way.



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