The World Cup is the top competition in all of football, and more often than not players use it as a springboard to move to greener pastures. For example, James Rodriguez and Marcus Rojo moved to Real Madrid and Manchester United respectively after the 2014 tournament. The return from the players, however, often varies. Mediocre players can often look elite in a short span, then return to their old ways in club play. These players, however, like Aleksander Golovin, had solid club performances and great World Cup performances. Who can potentially be on the move?
Santiago Arias – Colombia
Elite full-backs are a luxury in modern football. Although Arias is by no means elite, he is nudging his way into the better tier of right-backs. After another solid season with PSV in the Netherlands, Arias performed admirably for Colombia. He averaged two tackles, interceptions, and clearances per game in four World Cup matches.
Colombia’s defence was very sturdy overall, only looking shaky after Carlos Sanchez’s early red card against Japan. For PSV, Arias averaged two clearances, 1.5 interceptions, and 1.7 interceptions per game in 30 matches. In addition to this, he scored on three occasions and provided six assists. Modern day full-backs need to show an offensive spark, and Arias provides this as well. He’s also a solid passer/crosser, with a completion percentage of 82.3% with PSV and 80.7% with Colombia. He is currently being eyed by Carlo Ancelotti’s Napoli side.
Denis Cheryshev – Russia
Cheryshev’s Villareal side are already in a top league in La Liga and qualified for the UEFA Europa League. The Russian, however, was not a constant starter this past season. He also was not a major contributor, scoring four goals and providing two assists in 31 appearances. His World Cup performances, however, were nothing short of fantastic.
Cheryshev was a major threat in the final third, scoring four goals in five matches. One goal versus Saudi Arabia and another versus Croatia will surely finish as top highlights of the World Cup. His performances might earn him a move to a side where he can become a constant starter and continue his form of brilliance.
Aleksandr Golovin – Russia
Golovin entered the World Cup as Russia’s golden boy and he proved exactly why. Like Cheryshev, he was a constant attacking threat and showed creativity well beyond his years. Opposing centre-backs feared his accurate crosses, while his set pieces kept goalkeepers on their feet.
Besides this, Golovin already has a plethora of experience in club football. This past season with CSKA Moscow, he was a regular starter in Russia, the Champions League, and the Europa League. In 38 appearances he recorded seven goals and four assists while completing over 82% of his passes. English powerhouses Arsenal and Chelsea are currently keeping tabs on the youngster.
Diego Laxalt – Uruguay
Laxalt can feature as a left-back or left-midfielder and has both a solid defensive and offensive work rate. Nothing about his game screams greatness, but like many Uruguayans, he plays with the utmost passion and grit.
Playing for Genoa in Italy, Laxalt had a decent season. Defensively, he averaged 1.7 tackles, one interception, and one clearance per game in 32 appearances. For Uruguay in the World Cup, he averaged three tackles, one interception, and 1.8 clearances per game in four matches.
He didn’t score or assist in the World Cup, but scored three goals and provided three assists for Genoa. Although he plays an intense game, he’s very disciplined as he only received two yellow cards and zero red cards for both Genoa and Uruguay. Likely to stay in Italy, a move to a top club as a rotational player is in the cards.
Hirving Lozano – Mexico
After a breakout season in the Netherlands with PSV, Lozano continued to impress in Russia. Although the winger only scored one goal, it came versus Germany in Mexico’s best performance.
Throughout the tournament, however, his pace and trickery kept full-backs wary. He excels in one-on-one situations, but also has a knack for whipping in accurate crosses. His accurate passing was put on display in Russia, as he completed about 87% of them.
For PSV, Lozano scored 17 goals while racking up eight assists. Not only was he a catalyst for their league title, but one of the top forwards in all of the Eredivisie. He must work on his discipline as he accumulated four yellow cards and two red cards in league play, but this should come with time and experience. Recently, his father mentioned that Barcelona showed interest in the winger.
Harry Maguire – England
Maguire was relatively unknown outside of England until now. His tenacious defending and set-piece positioning in the World Cup has opened eyes around Europe. Maguire’s defensive statistics were impressive, but the most impressive was that he has won 6.2 aerial duels per game in Russia to date.
His offensive skills were also on display, scoring one goal and assisting another. The World Cup wasn’t necessarily a breakout, however, as Maguire was a force for Leicester City this past season. Playing in all 38 league matches, he averaged 1.7 tackles, 1.3 interceptions, and 4.8 clearances per game. He also showed his worth offensively with two goals and four assists. He may have done enough to convince one of the top six in England to pursue him.
Benjamin Pavard – France
After a great season in the Bundesliga, Pavard has made himself a mainstay in the France starting XI. Not only is the right back strong defensively, but he is also very active going forward.
His goal against Argentina in the Round of 16 is definitely one to remember. Pavard started every game for Stuttgart in the Bundesliga, and his statistics show exactly why. He averaged 1.6 tackles, 2.1 interceptions, and 5.4 clearances per game. In addition to this, his passing completion percentage was upwards of 83%. Early reports say Pavard has piqued the interest of Bayern Munich and Manchester City.
Ante Rebić – Croatia
Rebic has been very solid thus far, playing a role in Croatia’s fantastic run. The attacking midfielder doesn’t possess the speed or trickery of others, but overall he is an efficient player.
He plays with power but has an acute sense of finding open forwards. In all competitions for Eintracht Frankfurt last season, he finished with nine goals and two assists. His physical game and powerful shots have elite teams believing he has plenty of untapped potential.
As long as Rebić can improve his passing accuracy, he will become one of the better attacking midfielders in the game. It seems as if Europe’s powerhouses know this, as Arsenal, Bayern Munich, and Manchester United have all expressed interest recently.