15 World Cup Players Clubs Should Steer Clear Of
The World Cup can provide an excellent opportunity for domestic clubs to assess prospective new talent, as 736 internationals all vie for their own share of the spotlight.
However, sparkling individual displays on the biggest stage do not necessarily equate to solid performances at club level, and there are many post-Cup transfers that have left teams wishing they had kept the receipt.
Among others, Real Betis found this out after Denilson’s 1998 move from Sao Paulo, as did Liverpool with Salif Diao’s 2002 switch from Sedan.
But which World Cup players should be avoided after featuring at Brazil 2014? Over the next 15 slides, we take a look.
Chosen for a variety of reasons, including disciplinary issues, poor form in 2013/14, inflated price tags and a general failure to impress, these players are presented in alphabetical order and have not all necessarily been linked with a move away from their current clubs.
Who would you urge clubs to avoid this summer? Let us know below!
Benoit Assou-Ekotto, Cameroon
If you want to damage your reputation and cause teams to think twice about signing you, appearing to headbutt one of your team-mates in a World Cup game is a really good way to go about it.
This is exactly what Benoit Assou-Ekotto did when Cameroon took on Croatia in Manaus on June 18.
The Tottenham Hotspur defender, who spent last season on loan in the Championship with Queens Park Rangers, has since tried to explain his reasons for the apparent headbutt on fellow Cameroon international Benjamin Moukandjo. As he told L'Equipe (h/t Skysports.com):
It all started with the first match against Mexico. Moukandjo was on my flank, he tried to dribble past two opponents and lost the ball.
I told him he should pass it to me. He replied I was right. The same situation happened against Croatia again. Everyone can make a mistake. But when I told him again, he replied: 'Get off my back!'
I could not accept his reaction. There was so much frustration in that match. Now people take me for an idiot. I could not control my temper. If the score was 0-0, it would have not happened.
When we went back to the changing-room, Samuel Eto'o talked to me, but I was so angry that I didn't admit I was wrong.
Perhaps Assou-Ekotto will be one to avoid this summer.
Mario Balotelli, Italy
If reports are to be believed, Mario Balotelli's market price is already in decline, following his poor summer showing for Italy.
As seen in Gazzetta Dello Sport (h/t Tom Sheen in The Independent), AC Milan president Silvio Berlusconi has claimed that he has lost out on £28 million because of Balotelli's disappointing World Cup campaign.
The 23-year-old, who scored against England in Italy's opening game on June 15, failed to find the back of the net in the Azzurri's next two fixtures, both 1-0 losses against Costa Rica and Uruguay, respectively.
Seemingly uninterested and displaying little hunger in front of goal, Balotelli was substituted at half-time against the Uruguayans after picking up his second yellow card of the tournament for a silly foul on Alvaro Pereira—a game in which he looked like a red card waiting to happen.
Balotelli endured a difficult 2013/14 season with AC Milan, and despite being wildly talented, he is currently too much of a gamble and needs to be avoided in the transfer market until his form improves.
Bernard, Shakhtar Donetsk
Following their 7-1 semi-final demolition at the hands of Germany, there aren't many Brazil players who look like attractive propositions in the 2014 summer transfer window.
This time last year, Atletico Mineiro's highly rated young winger, Bernard, was sold to Shakhtar Donetsk for a fee reported to be €25 million, as seen on Transfermarkt.
As reported on Goal.com (h/t The Independent), Arsenal are now said to be interested in the 21-year-old. However, Arsene Wenger's side would do well to keep its distance from the Brazilian until he reproves his worth and shows he has confidence after a truly terrible World Cup exit.
As described by The Telegraph's Evan Fanning after the Germany tie in Belo Horizonte:
Bernard, another supposed twentysomething million pound player, looked like a child who’d won a competition to play football with the grown-ups (and not just because he was 18 inches smaller than the corner flag) and suddenly discovered that the adult world isn't all it’s cracked up to be.
Kevin-Prince Boateng, Ghana
Pitted against Germany, Portugal and the USA in Group G, the "Group of Death," Ghana did not help their World Cup chances by doing things the easy way, and Kevin-Prince Boateng seemingly was a fly in the ointment for Black Stars manager James Appiah.
The Schalke midfielder, who retired from international football after the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, changed his mind ahead of this year's tournament and was recalled to the side by Appiah.
After complaining about not starting his country's game against the U.S., as seen on Goal.com, he played just 53 minutes of Ghana's 2-2 draw with Germany.
It was to be the end of his tournament.
Boateng was sent home early, along with team-mate Sulley Muntari, after being accused of making "vulgar verbal insults" toward Appiah. Muntari was also accused of an "unprovoked physical attack" on a member of the Ghana FA, as reported by Ed Aarons in The Guardian.
Since being sent home, Boateng has slammed the Ghana setup, calling it "amateurish," as seen in Aarons' article in The Guardian.
More trouble than he's worth or just misunderstood? Whatever the reason, it was not a tournament to remember for the former Portsmouth and AC Milan man.
John Boye, Ghana
Ghanaian defender John Boye is currently without a club, after his contract with Ligue 1 side Rennes expired on July 1.
A World Cup player available for free? It's easy to imagine that several sides might be interested in signing the 27-year-old.
If they revisit his performances in Brazil, they will probably reconsider.
In (the admittedly difficult) Group G, which Ghana shared with the USA, Portugal and Germany, Boye struggled in the heart of the Black Stars defence.
He managed to break the nose of U.S. captain Clint Dempsey, bloodied the face of German international Thomas Mueller and was pictured kissing a wad of cash when $3 million in win bonuses was delivered to the Ghana players in Brazil.
To add to that, his side shipped six goals in three group games, and Boye even scored an own goal when Ghana lost 2-1 to Portugal.
Need we say more?
Iker Casillas, Spain
Iker Casillas may have an enviable list of honours to his name, but the Real Madrid man had a terrible World Cup, and regaining his confidence may take some time.
Casillas looked shaky in last season's Champions League final—a title he nonetheless won—and in Brazil he made a string of errors against the Netherlands that left Spain fans scratching their heads.
After conceding seven goals in their two opening games, a very poor Spain squad was knocked out of the World Cup in the first round and recorded just one win—a 3-0 victory against Australia in which Casillas was relegated to the bench.
With goalkeepers like Guillermo Ochoa and Keylor Navas impressing this summer, there are plenty of options for clubs looking for new blood who are significantly cheaper than Casillas. It'd be worth steering clear of the Spaniard this summer and assessing him again in January.
Edinson Cavani, Uruguay
When Napoli signed Edinson Cavani from Palermo in 2010, it was a great piece of business. The Uruguayan, who had shone for his country en route to the semi-finals in South Africa, rewarded the Naples side with 104 goals in 138 games and was sold on to Paris Saint-Germain for £55.6 million.
While certainly not a bad player, Cavani was a disappointment at Brazil 2014. When Luis Suarez was banned for biting Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini, Cavani had the perfect opportunity to be Uruguay's main man. However, the 27-year-old failed to make an impression for Oscar Tabarez's side.
As a striker who cost upward of £50 million this time last year, we expected more.
Cavani is said to be keen on a move to the Premier League, as reported by Jack De Menezes in The Independent. However, any sides who were interested in signing the striker before the tournament kicked off should now be wary of the return they would get for their money.
As an incredibly expensive option, clubs should steer clear and assess his performances in his second season at the Parc des Princes.
Portugal failed to impress at the 2014 World Cup, and most of Paulo Bento's international charges had a largely forgettable tournament.
Champions League winners with Real Madrid, both Pepe and an unfit Cristiano Ronaldo were awful, with the latter cutting a very frustrated figure in Group G. And Manchester United's Nani reminded us why we've seen so little of him in recent seasons.
As for Eder, he was one of Portugal's worst players, if not one of the worst of the tournament. A terrible first touch, wayward passing and with no threat in front of goal, it's little wonder the side found it so difficult to find the back of the net.
Linked with Arsenal and Newcastle United at this time last year, as seen on talkSPORT, clubs would be wise to steer clear of Eder this summer.
All Members of the England Team
Adam Lallana cost Liverpool £25 million, 19-year-old Luke Shaw cost Manchester United an estimated £34 million and Wayne Rooney has been linked with a move to Paris Saint-Germain for a fee in the region of £35 million, as seen on ESPN.co.uk.
Just in case you missed it, England did not win one single World Cup game in Brazil; they scored just two goals and were essentially out of the tournament by the second game.
Crazy money has already been spent, and if there are any clubs with designs on English players on the back of the World Cup, they should revisit Group D's performances and perhaps think about putting those plans on ice.
In January 2014, Brazil striker Hulk was being linked with a move to Premier League sides Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur, as reported by Alan Wilson in the Mirror.
After the 27-year-old's woeful World Cup performances in his home country, no club should entertain the idea of signing Hulk unless he displays a superhero-like upturn in form.
Over the course of five games the Brazilian failed to register a single goal or assist and, although making 12 solo runs into the opposition area (h/t FIFA.com), had no end product whatsoever. Without Neymar, Brazil were toothless in attack and needed their attacking players to step up. Hulk, along with Fred, simply went missing.
It's worth remembering that Hulk, according to Transfermarkt, is still worth €48 million. If any interested parties exist, they should wait until the former Porto man is priced at a fraction of that cost.
Ahmed Musa, Nigeria
Ahmed Musa scored twice as Nigeria took on Argentina at the Estadio Beira-Rio in Porto Alegre. It was an excellent end-to-end game, and Musa rightfully won many a plaudit for his performance against Lionel Messi and Co.
However, much of the current hype surrounding Musa has been centered on this game, and the Nigerian, although evidently talented, is still raw.
Against Iran, the winger managed to complete just 60 percent of 15 attempted passes and delivered just one accurate cross in a 0-0 draw. Against Bosnia-Herzegovina it was a similar story, with just 10 passes (the lowest in the Nigeria XI) and 70 percent of them completed—although he did have two shots on target.
In the 2-0 defeat against France, Musa made a total of nine passes and did not have a single shot on goal, although he did weigh in with defensive responsibilities (h/t Whoscored.com).
Also, if you take a look at the 21-year-old's record with CSKA Moscow in Russia's Premier Liga last season, the numbers are hardly staggering. Musa scored seven times in 26 league games, bagged one in the Champions League and another in the Russian Cup.
Musa has good technique, is very quick and the signs are increasingly positive, but it's hard to imagine that CSKA will let him leave for a less-than-inflated price.
Wilson Palacios, Honduras
We're not sure if there are many clubs out there who have earmarked a tough tackling, defensive midfielder from Honduras on their summer wish list following La Bicolar's exploits at the World Cup.
But just in case they have, they should avoid signing Wilson Palacios—the Stoke City man who had one of the most memorable World Cup games for all the wrong reasons.
In Honduras' opener against France in Porto Alegre, Palacios turned in an extremely rough performance which included a raft of mistimed, heavy tackles and a stamp on French midfielder Paul Pogba. Although only shown a yellow for that challenge, Palacios was sent off after just 43 minutes—leaving his team to lose 3-0.
The 29-year-old received a one-match ban and had to sit out his country's 2-1 loss against Ecuador, before returning to play a full 90 minutes against Switzerland.
Already into the final 12 months of his contract at the Britannia Stadium, it's unlikely Palacios will have many admirers following the World Cup.
Paulinho, apart from a few promising moments in a Tottenham Hotspur shirt, did little to impress during his first term in the Premier League—where injury, red-card suspension and a change of manager hampered his chances of making a big impression in English football.
Hot on the heels of the 2013/14 season came the World Cup, where Paulinho again failed to make an impact—this time for the host nation, who were so unceremoniously dumped out of the competition with a 7-1 defeat at the hands of Germany.
Like the rest of his Brazilian team-mates, Paulinho's confidence will have been rocked by the World Cup, and talk of him replacing Arturo Vidal in the heart of Juventus' midfield seem ludicrous, when examining his performances on home soil.
According to Jason Burt in The Telegraph, Spurs chairman Daniel Levy will not let the midfielder leave for anything less than £25 million.
After a dismal World Cup and a less-than-stellar debut campaign in the English top flight, clubs should avoid Paulinho and his current price tag until he recaptures the form he showed at Corinthians.
Alex Song, Cameroon
Apparently (and this shouldn't come as too much of a surprise) Barcelona are worried about the lack of bids they have received for midfielder Alex Song.
According to AS.com, Inter Milan, Manchester United and Everton were all previously interested in the 26-year-old, but all has gone quiet since the end of the World Cup.
Let's take a look back at Song's contribution to Cameroon's group-stage exit.
The Indomitable Lions lost their first match, against Mexico, 1-0. In their second game, against Croatia, Song completely lost his head at 1-0 down and violently elbowed Mario Mandzukic in the back. He was promptly sent off, Cameroon went on to lose 4-0 and Song's offence was so blatantly bad that FIFA deemed it worthy of a three-match ban.
Tournament over for the 26-year-old.
After appearing in just 19 games in La Liga last season, the World Cup should have provided Song with the opportunity to show domestic clubs what he could do. Instead, he has seen his stock plummet.
Eduardo Vargas, Chile
Speedy, skillful and industrious, Eduardo Vargas encapsulates much of what we loved about Chile at the 2014 World Cup.
However, the 24-year-old seems to play at his best under national team boss Jorge Sampaoli—at club level, he has struggled to make an impact.
Perhaps he just hasn't found the right club yet, but interested parties should not get carried away by what they saw of Vargas in Brazil.
The forward scored once and provided two assists at the World Cup, and in his last five international friendlies he has bagged five goals.
Last season, the Napoli player swapped Serie A for La Liga when he was sent out on loan to Valencia, where he made just 13 league starts and appeared in 17 games in total, scoring three times. This followed another loan spell with Brazilian outfit Gremio.
In fact, since putting pen to paper for Napoli in December 2011, Vargas has made just 28 appearances for the Italian side.
Despite being hailed as a "World Cup star" in many media outlets, including this piece from the Mirror's Ed Malyon, the question must be asked—why are Napoli so willing to let him leave?