July 13, 2014 by backofthenetjl
As we approach the latter stages of the World Cup, we can look back on what has been a memorable tournament so far; with a host of players impressing on the grand stage. It has previously been said that the World Cup is the peak of world football, making it the ideal occasion for players, both unknown and well-known, to showcase their talents and abilities. There have been several players who have done so in excellent fashion, proving their worth at the highest level; here I shall discuss the players who I deem to be in popular demand after the World Cup’s closure.
Firstly, Gary Medel is a player who is sure to have a few clubs chasing his signature in the transfer market, given his impressive string of performances for a Chile side that have been a joy to watch. Medel has been a vital component in defence, taking on a role which have to not been accustomed to seeing him fulfil for club side Cardiff. Yet in all truth, alongside Jara and Diaz in defence, Medel has been a revelation, recycling possession and giving the Chileans the initiative as soon as they pick up possession. He was been a vital part of Sampaoli’s furious red machine. The former Sevilla man tops the passing charts at the World Cup with a pass accuracy of 90.9%, which reinforces the point of his importance to La Roja. Having recently been relegated with Cardiff City, he is sure to be tempted by the possibility of top flight football in an elite league, thus it is extremely likely that a few offers come in for ‘El Pitbull’.
Another Chilean who has caught the attention of many this summer has been Barcelona’s Alexis Sanchez; who has been one of the stars of the World Cup so far. Sanchez hit the ground running in Chile’s opening fixture, helping himself to a goal and an assist in a 3-1 win over Australia. That basically set the bar for the rest of the tournament, and the 25 year-old has managed to maintain consistency in his performances, regularly tormenting defenders and contributing hugely for his country. It is not merely his ability which has been impressive, his aggression, determination and workrate has been utterly admirable; one of the main reasons why a host of clubs are interested in acquiring his services. It is worth noting that Alexis also notched home nine-teen goals in La Liga last season, with his displays in the World Cup providing further evidence that he is a massive talent. It wouldn’t be majorly surprising to see the ex Udinese man depart the Nou Camp this summer, but expect a dogfight of some sort for his signature.
In a tournament which has treated us to some exceptional goal-keeping, perhaps the best shot-stopper of the tournament has been Mexico’s frizzy-haired keeper Guillermo Ochoa, who has been magnificent for Miguel Herrera’s men. The six-fingered 28 year-old is a free agent having been released by relegated Ajaccio at the end of the season, but his reputation has been boosted particularly during the course of the World Cup. Mexico went out of the tournament which a highly commendable defensive record, which was largely down to the form of Ochoa, who has proved to be a wholly reliable backbone. He kept a clean-sheet in the opening win over Cameroon, then followed it up with a man of the match display against Brazil; a game where he produced some truly phenomenal saves. The former Club America man was heroic against Croatia and Holland; with his commanding presence and excellent reflexes quite evident. There are already a number of clubs linked with Ochoa, so he is sure to have plenty of potential offers coming in.
With Radamel Falcao omitted from the Colombia squad after only just getting back to fitness, Colombia turned to his Monaco compatriot James Rodriguez and he has duly delivered, scoring five times in four games, and grabbing two assists; a record which is quite sensational. The ex Porto player has been in irresistible form for Colombia, linking up superbly with team-mates and turning on the style when required. Inevitably, the moment which really summed up his tournament so far was his outrageous goal against Uruguay; a goal of great technical quality. It would be inaccurate to say that Colombia are a ‘one-man team’, yet it is clear to see the way Rodriguez has carried his country on occasions and his value in the side. Already an established talent, he has proved he is able to deal with the pressure of performing on the world stage and has lived up to expectations. Having shone so far, it is probably that his value will increase significantly, so any club keen on snapping him up may well have to pay an extortionate sum of money.
Finally, a player who has been one of the best defenders of the tournament up to now is Holland’s Daley Blind. Son of Netherlands’ coach Danny, Blind has been a regular fixture in the Dutch side which have mainly utilised a 5-3-2 system and has earned some rave reviews, mainly for his terrific positioning and reading of the game, but also for his attacking qualities – which have been rather useful for Oranje. Blind has looked comfortable and competent as both a left-back and centre-back; with his versatility meaning he is very well regarded by his coach Louis van Gaal, who of course is the new Manchester United manager. Technically, Blind has looked brilliant, providing good service for the likes of Robben and van Persie; in fact it was his remarkable pass which allowed the latter to score that famous headed goal against Spain. The 24-year old has certainly given a good account of himself on the world stage; therefore it is no surprise that a few clubs have shown interest in bringing him in. United with van Gaal at the helm look like potential suitors for Blind, but after a plethora of terrific displays, they may well face competition from some of Europe’s elite.
With the transfer window now open, silly season begins, and so it will be interesting to see where the aforementioned players end up. One thing for sure is that there World Cup exploits have done no harm at all to their reputation.
By Josh Lawless