50 Biggest Transfer Targets Based on World Cup Performance

Allan JiangTransfers CorrespondentJuly 15, 2014

50 Biggest Transfer Targets Based on World Cup Performance

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    Bleacher Report presents the best potential transfer targets who played at the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

    The players will be ranked on TWO standards:

    • World Cup performance.
    • Likelihood of being a value-for-money transfer.

    The latter category has a higher weighting.

    This list is NOT a ranking of the best World Cup players [1].

    Toni Kroos (Germany), Enner Valencia (Ecuador) and Serge Aurier (Ivory Coast) have been excluded from this list.

    • Kroos confirmed his transfer from Bayern Munich to Real Madrid, per UOL (h/t Paulo Freitas at Sky Sports).
    • Valencia will join West Ham United from Pachuca, per John Percy at The Telegraph.
    • Toulouse have agreed to sell Aurier to Paris Saint-Germain for €9/£7.2 million and Clement Chantome, per L'Equipe (h/t a tweet via French football journalist Jonathan Johnson).

    Long-List Cuts

    • Ryan McGowan (Australia/Shandong Luneng Taishan)
    • Rais M'Bolhi (Algeria/CSKA Sofia)
    • Jermaine Jones (United States/free agent)
    • Jefferson Montero (Ecuador/Morelia)
    • Jonathan Mensah (Ghana/Evian Thonon Gaillard)

    [1] Read Sam Tighe's top 100 World Cup players

50. Alireza Jahanbakhsh (Iran/NEC)

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    Fernando Vergara/Associated Press

    Carlos Queiroz should have given Alireza Jahanbakhsh, a nippy and skilful right-sided forward, more playing time with Iran needing goals. 

    Last season, playing as an impact sub for NEC, Jahanbakhsh engineered a comeback with a brace against Ajax.

    In that game, Jahanbakhsh played 35 minutes, which was the amount of time he should have averaged at the FIFA World Cup. 

    NEC dropping to the Eerste Divisie could be a blessing in disguise for Jahanbakhsh, because he should dominate having troubled Eredivisie-standard defences. 

    Conversely, Jahanbakhsh will be available at a bargain-basement fee. 

49. Pepe Reina (Spain/Liverpool)

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    With nothing to play for, Spain gave Pepe Reina a run against Australia. 

    Deputising for an error-riddled Iker Casillas, Reina had a comfortable game as Spain beat an emotionally drained Australia side, still ruing close defeats to Chile and the Netherlands. 

    Reina's future at Liverpool is dependent on his agent Manuel Garcia Quillon engineering an exit route.

    "I have a deal for another two years [with Liverpool], even if I've not yet spoken with the coach [Brendan Rodgers] to see what his plans are," Reina said, per Mundo Deportivo (h/t Nadia Carminati at Sky Sports).

    "Now I'm set to end my holidays and my agent [Quillon] is charged to do these things."

    Quillon's high demands sunk Napoli extending Reina's loan deal into a permanent one, per talkSPORT (h/t Mike Whalley at ESPN FC).  

48. Nani (Portugal/Manchester United)

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    Nani is set to commence his eighth season at Manchester United.

    Time flies, right? 

    Instead of his career charting upwards like compatriot and former United teammate Cristiano Ronaldo, Nani has been on a downward trend.

    Nowadays, Nani is often trade bait, as illustrated when he was thrown into a proposed deal for his services plus £50 million to Juventus in return for Arturo Vidal, per Football Italia.

47. Danny Welbeck (England/Manchester United)

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    Forget about the FIFA World Cup. 

    Danny Welbeck is athletic, possesses size and has good work ethic. 

    He can do a job out wide and has flashed potential up front. 

    Putting a spin on Welbeck's positives to prospective buyers will be a task for United management given his over-reliance on his physical tangibles, his awkwardness on the ball and him failing the eye test. 

    Welbeck needs to turn into a world-class centre-forward overnight to have a chance of making an impression under Louis van Gaal.

46. Oleg Shatov (Russia/FC Zenit)

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    When Russia host the 2018 FIFA World Cup, will Oleg Shatov have faded back into obscurity or is he a future world-beater? 

    Shatov did not demand the ball or play with a cutting edge like teammate Viktor Faizulin in the Brazil tournament.

    But Shatov showed flickers of promise creating four scoring chances in three World Cup games. 

    You can envision his style of play matching well in Serie A or the Eredivisie. 

45. Benjamin Moukandjo (Cameroon/Nancy)

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    Getting intentionally head-butted by compatriot Benoit Assou-Ekotto sullied Benjamin Moukandjo's FIFA World Cup. 

    In fairness to Assou-Ekotto, not only did he own up to his moment of madness, but he explained the situation, per L'Equipe (h/t Patrick Haond at Sky Sports): 

    Moukandjo was on my flank, he tried to dribble past two opponents and lost the ball [against Mexico].

    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!"

    Textbook Moukandjo. 

    He can take the ball past multiple players, but he often dribbles blind and is turnover-prone. 

    However, he is an ideal impact sub, who could be a handy squad addition for a big team. 


44. DeAndre Yedlin (United States/Seattle Sounders)

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    Matt Dunham/Associated Press

    Broad-shouldered, compact and speedy, DeAndre Yedlin possesses the athleticism to thrive in Europe. 

    He averages 41.5 passes per game for the Seattle Sounders, so there is more to his game than being another Marvell Wynne.

    Yedlin showed glimpses of excellence at the FIFA World Cup and is dealing with the new-found fame day-by-day, per Ashley Scoby at The Seattle Times:


    "Hey!" yells a construction worker as soon as Yedlin climbs out of the van. "You're the man!"


    In an age of Johnny Manziels riding on inflatable swans, Yedlin went out to dinner with his family, then out with a few teammates late that night, when most places were empty.

    It wasn't that he was trying to be inconspicuous; that's just the way he usually operates.

    But with several TV appearances inspired by his World Cup performance, plus the money and fame that come along, it's getting harder for Yedlin to "lay low."


    [Yedlin is] making the transition from old-school Subaru to whatever new model he buys with his $300,000 World Cup bonus.

    Roma are tracking Yedlin, per La Gazzetta dello Sport (h/t Nicholas Rosano at MLSsoccer.com).

43. Luis Garrido (Honduras/Olimpia)

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    Former Olimpia midfielder Wilson Palacios transitioned from Honduran football to the Premier League. 

    That process can be replicated by Luis Garrido.

    He will return to Olimpia, per CONCACAF.com, but he should be playing in Europe, whether it is in a developing league such as the Allsvenskan in Sweden or a second-tier league such as the Segunda Division in Spain.

    Garrido completed 50 of 60 passes and averaged three interceptions per game during the World Cup. 

42. Hotaru Yamaguchi (Japan/Cerezo Osaka)

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    Hotaru Yamaguchi has the technique and the ball-retention ability to play in Europe. 

    Starting in central midfield, he completed 87.1 percent of his 49 passes per game for Japan at the FIFA World Cup. 

    Yamaguchi should jump at a chance of playing in Europe, otherwise he will wonder "What if?" like compatriot Keita Suzuki.

41. Yacine Brahimi (Algeria/Granada)

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    Yacine Brahimi led La Liga in dribbles per game last season (4.7), so it was not a surprise when he evaded tackles, jinked past opposing players and was at times a one-man counter-attack for Algeria at the FIFA World Cup. 

    Brahimi is an example of a player possessing world-class ability but lacking the end product to take his game to the next level. 

    Granada have refuted claims of Brahimi signing with Porto, per Heath Chesters at Inside Spanish Football.

40. Mateo Kovacic (Croatia/Inter Milan)

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    Antonio Calanni/Associated Press

    Mateo Kovacic completed 90.3 percent of his passes for Croatia at the FIFA World Cup.

    However, he only averaged 20.7 passes per game, which tells you he did not involve himself in the game enough. 

    That is why he drifted in and out of games for Inter Milan.

    Despite being a world-class passer, as evident with a hat-trick of assists against Lazio, he has yet to develop into an authoritative presence in midfield. 

    He was a bit-part player at Inter Milan last season, so he should consider a loan move this summer. 

39. Ki Sung-Yueng (South Korea/Swansea City)

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    Ki Sung-Yueng set the tempo for South Korea in midfield. 

    He averaged 61.7 passes per game with a 93.5 pass completion percentage. 

    While he is a metronomic passer, he left gaping holes at the back and his defending was sub-par.

    This was evident with him giving away twice as many free-kicks (six) compared to tackles made (three).

    Ki is being targeted by Aston Villa, per Mat Kendrick at the Birmingham Mail.

38. Eduardo Vargas (Chile/Napoli)

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    In four FIFA World Cup games, Eduardo Vargas scored a goal and registered two assists for Chile. 

    That was the production Napoli expected.

    He never started a Serie A game and spent two loan spells at Gremio and Valencia. It is clear Napoli do not rate him, but he could be a star at another European club. 

    He needs to keep persevering because he is good enough to play in Europe. If he doesn't, he risks having a European void on his CV, like Jorge Valdivia.

37. Jose Gimenez (Uruguay/Atletico Madrid)

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    Jose Gimenez was Atletico Madrid's fourth-choice centre-back last season behind Diego Godin, Miranda and Toby Alderweireld.

    During the FIFA World Cup, Gimenez proved he belongs at the highest level with tough defending.

    If Atleti cannot guarantee him regular playing time, it would be logical to loan him out. 

36. Jason Davidson (Australia/Heracles Almelo)

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    Jason Davidson is one of Australia's best prospects and will likely be the Socceroos' left-back for the next five years. 

    Heracles Almelo have taken precautionary measures to protect their investment in Davidson, per Chris Lepkowski at the Birmingham Mail:

    Davidson was thought to be a free agent after completing his contract at Eredivisie side Heracles Almelo... But Heracles insist they have triggered a one year option.

    Davidson is skilled at cutting off passes, but he needs to work on his defensive positioning. 

35. Wilfried Bony (Ivory Coast/Swansea City)

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    Muscular, robust and powerful, Wilfried Bony continued his Premier League form at the FIFA World Cup. 

    He scored 16 goals in league play for Swansea City last season and added two goals on the world's biggest stage for the Ivory Coast. 

    He has been tapped as Luis Suarez's replacement at Liverpool, per Chris Wathan at Wales Online

34. Divock Origi (Belgium/Lille)

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    Belgium manager Marc Wilmots gave wunderkind Divock Origi a run at the FIFA World Cup. 

    Amid Liverpool agreeing a transfer fee with Lille, Origi—a centre-forward with world-class upside—has yet to arrive at a decision, per Joe Rimmer at the Liverpool Echo.

    Look back 16 years and Wilmots was a veteran at the 1998 World Cup.

    One of his teammates was then-prodigy Emile Mpenza who, despite the hype, finished with an ordinary career.

    Origi is still 19 years of age, so he has time.

    There is nothing wrong in making the safe choice of staying in Ligue 1.

33. Ogenyi Onazi (Nigeria/Lazio)

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    Ogenyi Onazi getting assaulted by French central midfielder Blaise Matuidi was the turning point in Nigeria's 2-0 defeat. 

    Onazi won back the ball 23 times in four World Cup games and played as if he was a week-in, week-out starter at Lazio.

    In reality, he only started 19 Serie A games last season.

    He should be playing every week, so perhaps a move away from Lazio could be an option. 

    After initial fears of a broken leg following a thuggish tackle from Matuidi, "tests have since shown no fractures," per Oluwashina Okeleji at BBC Sport

32. Yeltsin Tejeda (Costa Rica/Saprissa)

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    Playing with tenacity, Yeltsin Tejeda had a physical presence in Costa Rica's midfield. 

    Averaging 3.2 tackles per game at the FIFA World Cup, Tejeda proved he should be playing at a higher level than in the Costa Rican league. 

    According to his representative Mike Williams, Tejeda is being tracked by several teams.

    "We already have a good level of [European] interest in Yeltsin," Williams said, per Pete O'Rourke at Sky Sports.

    "We also turned down offers from Vancouver Whitecaps in the MLS [Major League Soccer] earlier this year."

31. Toby Alderweireld (Belgium/Atletico Madrid)

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    Unable to displace Atletico Madrid's first-choice centre-back partnership Diego Godin and Miranda, Toby Alderweireld was a backup.

    He started 10 of 38 La Liga games and spent more time observing than playing. 

    Godin and Miranda complement each other excellently, so Alderweireld faces another season waiting and hoping for an extended run. 

    Villarreal want to take Alderweireld on loan for the upcoming season, per Tom Conn at Inside Spanish Football

30. Ezequiel Lavezzi (Argentina/Paris Saint-Germain)

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    Ezequiel Lavezzi was gaining traction in his matchup against German left-back Benedikt Hoewedes, so it was bizarre that Alejandro Sabella subbed Lavezzi out. 

    Therein lies a problem with Lavezzi: He is lively, but he did not cash in, which is a theme.

    He failed to create a single goal in Ligue 1 last season. 

    While he does have world-class technique, he is 29 years of age, and add on his inconsistency, this means he is not the ideal man to bank on. 

29. Ivan Perisic (Croatia/Wolfsburg)

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    Ivan Perisic torched Cameroon's disorderly defence with a goal and an assist for Ivica Olic. 

    When Perisic is in full flow, he is a player capable of world-class moments. Able to play on either flank, he is two-footed and a scoring threat. 

    Major European clubs should consider Perisic as a transfer target.

    Though, there are two deterrents:

    • Wolfsburg are backed by Volkswagen, so the club will be under no financial pressure to sell. 
    • Perisic is a mercurial player, who started last season with two goals in 15 Bundesliga games.

28. Andre Ayew (Ghana/Marseille)

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    Ghana's FIFA World Cup campaign may have been troubled, but Andre Ayew was outstanding. 

    He scored two goals, won back the ball 10 times and completed 84.2 percent of his passes.

    It is time Ayew branched out, because he has the quality to play at a UEFA Champions League-contending team. 

27. Marcos Rojo (Argentina/Sporting Lisbon)

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    During the FIFA World Cup, Marcos Rojo accumulated 20 tackles and intercepted 15 passes.

    Factoring in his height (6'2"), his age (24) and him playing in a position of need (left-back), he will be targeted by Europe's big clubs. 

    This will give more leverage to Sporting Lisbon to garner an inflated transfer fee.

26. Vincent Enyeama (Nigeria/Lille)

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    Vincent Enyeama has performed admirably in two successive FIFA World Cups. 

    He contributed to the goalkeeping standard being so high at this year's tournament. 

    With Real Madrid embarking on another Galacticos era, signing a world-class shot-stopper such as Enyeama from Lille should be considered. 

    Having signed a contract extension until 2017, Lille will be financially compensated should Europe's big clubs approach Enyeama.

25. Benedikt Hoewedes (Germany/Schalke)

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    If Alejandro Sabella did not take Ezequiel Lavezzi out of the game, would Benedikt Hoewedes have been exposed in the second half? 

    Sabella's tactical misstep ensured Hoewedes did not give his critics further ammunition. 

    Hoewedes proved he could adjust to a different position, and in the past season, he has played at centre-back, right-back and left-back. 

    He brings experience, he is tactically versatile and he is a FIFA World Cup winner. 

    The concerns prospective buyers would have is his injury-record and a tendency to commit daft errors. 

24. Xherdan Shaqiri (Switzerland/Bayern Munich)

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    Xherdan Shaqiri's hat-trick against Honduras reinforced what a special talent he is. 

    He may be diminutive in height, but he is pound-for-pound one of the strongest players in Europe.

    He can play across midfield and could end up being an elite deep-lying forward. 

    Despite heavy interest in his services, Bayern Munich have "no thoughts" of selling him, per Kicker (h/t Tom Sheen at The Independent). 

23. Tim Howard (United States/Everton)

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    It has been a decade since one of Tim Howard's lowest moments.

    Playing for Manchester United in the UEFA Champions League round of 16 second leg, he "failed to deal with a routine free-kick from [Benni] McCarthy, leaving Costinha with a simple chance that ended United's dream," per BBC Sport

    Howard never fulfilled his promise at United, whereas it was a career-defining match for then-Porto manager Jose Mourinho.

    Coming back to the present, Howard's heroics at the FIFA World Cup not only show how far he has come, but that he should be given another shot at the big-time for a major club. 

22. Matteo Darmian (Italy/Torino)

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    Matteo Darmian was a spark for Italy as a wing-back at the FIFA World Cup. 

    In the past two seasons for Torino, he accumulated 264 tackles, so he has endurance and is a ball-winning magnet.

    Able to play at full-back or wing-back, Darmian can develop into one of the best defenders of his generation. 

    Barcelona are interested in Darmian, per Sky Sports

21. Sergio Romero (Argentina/Monaco)

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    Like compatriots Sergio Goycochea and Carlos Roa, Sergio Romero was an overnight hero after a sensational individual performance in a penalty shootout win. 

    Not wanted by Sampdoria or Monaco (on loan), Romero would be a smart acquisition for a major European club if he can replicate his performances for Argentina at club level. 

20. Miralem Pjanic (Bosnia and Herzegovina/Roma)

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    Miralem Pjanic was a midfield virtuoso for Bosnia and Herzegovina.

    Averaging 66 passes and creating four scoring chances per game, Pjanic was replicating his Roma form at the FIFA World Cup. 

    He could end up being one of the most expensive midfielders in the next few years. 

19. Kostas Manolas (Greece/Olympiacos)

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    With Kyriakos Papadopoulos beset with injuries, Kostas Manolas has developed into one of Greece's best defenders.

    Manolas should look to emulate Papadopoulos and Sokratis Papastathopoulos as the two moved abroad. 

    Strong in the air and good on the ball, Manolas has the capacity to play at a higher level. 

18. Ricardo Rodriguez (Switzerland/Wolfsburg)

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    Ricardo Rodriguez lived up to expectations at the FIFA World Cup for Switzerland.

    Rated as one of the best left-back prospects, Rodriguez was defensively solid and offered an attacking dimension with his overlapping runs. 

    Wolfsburg's decision to sign him from Zurich was a master stroke. 

17. Julio Cesar (Brazil/Queens Park Rangers)

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    David Luiz abandoned Julio Cesar during Brazil's 7-1 defeat to Germany like Roberto Duran saying "No Mas."

    Teams looking to buy Cesar should disregard the goals conceded statistic because he had a bunch of quitters in front of him.

    Cesar is an unwanted man at Queens Park Rangers and should think about moving to Portugal or back to Brazil. 

16. Angel Di Maria (Argentina/Real Madrid)

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    Angel Di Maria should have had a better FIFA World Cup. 

    He went from creating 17 goals in La Liga to none at the World Cup. Not to mention, his shooting was off with just one goal from 24 shots. 

    The major positive, though, was that he surged past opposing players at will. 

    Despite a career-best season for Real Madrid, Di Maria is inexplicably on the chopping block.

    But according to Manu Sainz at ASDi Maria initiated the transfer speculation since he "wants to leave Real Madrid to play for Paris Saint-Germain."

15. Arturo Vidal (Chile/Juventus)

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    Arturo Vidal seemed a step behind play for Chile at the FIFA World Cup. 

    His tackles per game averaged dropped from 4.1 for Juventus to 1.7 for Chile.

    He needs to recuperate and take care of his body.

    Paul Pogba's upside means he would be a smarter investment than betting on Vidal, whose lionhearted playing style is not sustainable for the long run. 

14. Paul Pogba (France/Juventus)

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    Sir Alex Ferguson sticking with Tom Cleverley and running Paul Pogba out of Manchester United is like a high-school coach dropping Michael Jordan for Leroy Smith.

    Ferguson probably felt Pogba was just another self-entitled egomaniac. 

    Instead of being all show, no substance, like Nicklas Bendtner, Pogba took his game to the next level

    The failure at United may have triggered Pogba's recent rise, much like Smith's early success over a young Michael Jordan spurred on the basketball icon to greater things, as illustrated by His Airness per The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame:

    And then there's Leroy Smith.

    Now you guys think that's a myth. Leroy Smith was a guy when I got cut he made the team—on the Varsity team—and he's here tonight.

    He's still the same 6'7" guy. He's not any bigger and his game is probably the same.

    But he started the whole process with me, because when he made the team and I didn't, I wanted to prove not just to Leroy Smith, not just to myself, but to the coach who actually picked Leroy over me, I wanted to make sure you understood you made a mistake dude. 

    At 21 years of age, Pogba has won two Serie A titles, a FIFA U-20 World Cup, the U-20 World Cup Golden Ball and the 2014 World Cup Best Young Player award. 

    It will take a bid of Zinedine Zidane-like proportions to force Juventus into selling Pogba.

13. Juan Cuadrado (Colombia/Fiorentina)

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    Juan Cuadrado evolving from an ad-hoc headless-chicken-like runner at Lecce to one of the most productive players at the FIFA World Cup is mind-boggling. 

    Cuadrado created more goals (four) than Germany's Toni Kroos (three), Belgium's Eden Hazard (two), Argentina's Lionel Messi (one) and the Ivory Coast's Yaya Toure (zero).

    Fiorentina are open to selling Cuadrado whose transfer stock is at its pinnacle, per Sky Sport Italia (h/t Nadia Carminati at Sky Sports).  

12. Sami Khedira (Germany/Real Madrid)

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    Clearly Luiz Felipe Scolari did not do an adequate scouting report on Sami Khedira because not a single Brazilian bothered to mark him. 

    When Khedira was at Stuttgart, he would embark on surging box-to-box runs. 

    Brazil were wide open and Khedira took advantage, scoring and creating a goal in Germany's 7-1 win. 

    Arsenal and Chelsea are vying for Khedira's signature, per Sport (h/t Tom Sheen at The Independent). 


11. James Rodriguez (Colombia/Monaco)

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    James Ha-mes Rodriguez has gained enough fame for all commentators to quit anglicising his name. 

    That was also the case with Thierry Henry's surname. 

    As great as James was at the FIFA World Cup, scoring six goals, it is typical Real Madrid if they go forward with an absurdly inflated €75/£59.4 million bid, per Carlos Carpio at Marca

    Fortunately, James is a multi-faceted footballer who presses, can dictate play centrally and slot out wide. 

    At 23 years of age, he has the potential to be a future FIFA Ballon d'Or winner. 

    Key word being "potential".

    He needs to up his scoring rate into Cristiano Ronaldo territory to ensure the monumental transfer fee is only a footnote. 

10. Mats Hummels (Germany/Borussia Dortmund)

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    Mats Hummels was the best centre-back at the FIFA World Cup.

    However, he generally gives away that one nonchalant play which gives the opposing team a scoring chance. 

    Manuel Neuer covered Hummels and Germany's wobbly defence throughout the tournament. 

    That is the risk of signing Hummels because, if you have followed his career, he is prone to making mistakes.

    Does Hummels have a release clause? Who knows. 

    Only he, his father Hermann, and Borussia Dortmund know the truth, as there are a myriad of contradictions surrounding the finer details of Hummels' contract. 

    "Hummels is currently contracted until 2017," per Stephan Uersfeld at ESPN FC. "According to media reports, Dortmund bought him out of his release clause."

    With Paris Saint-Germain inflating the transfer market by spending €49.5/£39.3 million to secure David Luiz's clownish defending, Borussia Dortmund are within their rights to demand an astronomical fee, assuming there is no release clause in Hummels' contract. 



9. Daley Blind (Netherlands/Ajax)

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    If Tom Cleverley is reading self-help books on his Kindle to get his confidence up, he should study Daley Blind's career.

    Once a pinata constantly barbed with accusations of nepotism (his father, Danny, is an Ajax legend) by frustrated Ajax fans, Blind has turned himself into an invaluable utility player. 

    He can't take on players like Arjen Robben, doesn't have the vision of Wesley Sneijder and lacks the physical tangibles of Ron Vlaar.

    Yet Blind is solid across the board: excellent ball-retention ability, can create scoring chances, runs himself into the ground and is willing to play in any outfield position. 

    This is what Cleverley needs to do if he wants to have a future at Manchester United.

    Blind would be an important squad addition to any major European club. 

8. Giancarlo Gonzalez (Costa Rica/Columbus Crew)

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    Giancarlo Gonzalez either had the greatest month of his career or is the real deal buried in Major League Soccer. 

    Having never watched Gonzalez play for the Columbus Crew, it was a shock to see how excellent he was for Costa Rica at the FIFA World Cup. 

    He led from the back, was a rough tackler, strong in the air and good on the ball. 

    Tip of the hat to Crew for scouting Gonzalez. After impressing at the World Cup, Crew will consider bids for Gonzalez, per Andrew King at MLSsoccer.com.

    Major League Soccer lacks leverage to negotiate Benfica/Porto-like transfer fees, so Gonzalez could be a bargain for European clubs. 

7. Alexander Dominguez (Ecuador/LDU Quito)

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    Alexander Dominguez is rangy, has very large hands, is 6'3" and has upside as a 27-year-old. 

    He is entering his prime, and his world-class game against France suggests he should be playing in Europe. 

    Dominguez's nine saves against France were incredible. 

    "We had a lot of success in the game before [against Switzerland] because practically every shot went in," French centre-forward Karim Benzema said, per Miguel Delaney at The Independent.

    "Why didn't we score [against Ecuador]? Their goalkeeper [Dominguez]. We had chances but he dealt with them all."

    Dominguez would be sabotaging his career if he did not take a risk in playing at a European club.

6. Ron Vlaar (Netherlands/Aston Villa)

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    Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

    In the past, Hong Myung-Bo, Alpay Ozalan and Carlos Gamarra have succeeded at FIFA World Cups, so there is a trend of unheralded defenders overachieving.

    That is Ron Vlaar's story because he was rock-solid.

    "Ron Vlaar stole the headlines after a wonderful performance against Argentina in the semi-final," per Sam Tighe at Bleacher Report. "A remarkable set of showings from the Aston Villa man."

    If Vlaar moves to Roma, per Paul Brown at the Daily Star, the Dutch international should thrive in Serie A. 


5. Muhamed Besic (Bosnia and Herzegovina/Ferencvaros)

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    Matthias Hangst/Getty Images

    Muhamed Besic didn't make the grade at Hamburg as a centre-back, but he flashed world-class potential as a No. 6 at the FIFA World Cup. 

    His positioning was flawless, he was a metronomic passer and controlled the pace of Bosnia and Herzegovina's attacks. 

    He should be bargain-basement cheap since he plays for Ferencvaros, a team that has not been relevant since losing the 1975 European Cup Winners' Cup Final to Dynamo Kyiv.

4. Stefan De Vrij (Netherlands/Feyenoord)

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    Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

    "You shall not pass," was Stefan de Vrij's motto in the Netherland's last three FIFA World Cup games—all clean sheets. 

    He has prototypical centre-back size (6'2", 172 pounds) and is a viable passing outlet from the back. 

    He completed 85.7 percent of his passes, and at 23 years of age, he could transition into a top-class defender.

    De Vrij is being monitored by Lazio, per Football Italia.

3. David Ospina (Colombia/Nice)

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    Matthias Hangst/Getty Images

    Everyone was talking about James Rodriguez in Colombia's 2-0 win over Uruguay, but David Ospina was superb. 

    "We came up against a goalkeeper [Ospina] who performed extraordinarily well," Uruguay manager Oscar Tabarez said, per FIFA.com. "He didn't let us back into the match."

    Ospina made several world-class saves last season for Nice including a last-ditch one-handed save to stop Guingamp centre-forward Mustapha Yatabare from scoring. 

    Arsenal are interested in signing Ospina, per Jeremy Wilson at The Telegraph.

2. Guillermo Ochoa (Mexico/Free Agent)

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    After three years in the wilderness at Ajaccio, Guillermo Ochoa announced himself to the mainstream footballing world with one world-class save after another at the FIFA World Cup.

    As a free agent, Ochoa will be subject to heavy interest from major European clubs.

    His preference is stay in France, per L'Equipe (h/t Patrick Haond at Sky Sports). 

1. Keylor Navas (Costa Rica/Levante)

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    Is Keylor Navas' success at the FIFA World Cup a surprise? 


    Anyone who follows La Liga football would have told you Navas is a top-five goalkeeper, not just in Spain but in Europe. 

    Navas had multiple Craig Gordon-like moments for Levante, so you knew you were watching a remarkably talented goalkeeper. 

    In case you did not read the introduction slide: 

    The players will be ranked on TWO standards:

    • World Cup performance.
    • Likelihood of being a value-for-money transfer.

    The latter category has a higher weighting.

    The reason why Navas is No. 1 on this list is because one European club can sign one of the best shot-stoppers in the world for €10/£8 million.

    "Keylor has a €10 million release clause and we know that Keylor is worth more than that," Levante president Quico Catalan said, per Cadena SER (h/t The Guardian).

    "All the teams that have made offers for Keylor know what the answer will be—the release clause."

    Premier League club executives are probably gushing: "Thank goodness Navas is not English."

    Well, he probably wishes he was English since he earns around £5,000-a week—peasant money in the footballing world. 

    What Navas needs to do is push on because his compatriot Luis Gabelo Conejo, a star at the 1990 World Cup, never succeeded at a major European club. 

    Bayern Munich have denied securing a deal to sign Navas as Manuel Neuer's backup, per Marca



    Statistics via WhoScored.com


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