Five players Premier League clubs should be targeting
The World Cup gives players the chance to join the archives of legends to have graced the game on the grandest stage, but it's also an opportunity to put yourself in the shop window, with the scouts of all of the biggest clubs in Europe sure to have a watching brief
By Martin Laurence - whoscored.com
Last Updated: 02/07/14 12:47pm
While the football continues to excite and the goals continue to flow, so do the gossip columns, with a number of those on show having been linked with a move to England. Whoscored.com look at a handful of players who could be making the move to England upon their return from the World Cup.
Alexis Sanchez (Chile)
With Luis Suarez all-too familiarly making the headlines for all of the wrong reasons, Liverpool have been hit with the news that a third ban of his career for biting an opponent will keep him out of their opening 14 games of the season in all competitions. Rumours circulated prior to the Uruguayan's moment of madness that a move to Barcelona was on the cards, with Alexis Sanchez potentially being used as a makeweight in the deal. Though it has been confirmed that Suarez can still transfer away from Anfield despite his suspension from FIFA, the Reds are thought to be keen on the Chilean regardless.
Why wouldn't they be? On the back of an excellent goalscoring campaign in La Liga in which he netted 19 times and picked up ten assists, Sanchez has starred for a side that truly thrilled the fans. With a WhoScored.com rating of 8.17 in his four World Cup appearances, the forward scored twice and picked up an assist, but couldn't prevent Chile's exit at the hands of holders Brazil, missing in the penalty shoot-out. Meanwhile, Sanchez has completed more dribbles than any other player at the World Cup at the time of writing (22), while his threat was evident in the fact that no player has been fouled more times (24).
Mario Mandzukic (Croatia)
Another man linked with a move away from one of Europe's powerhouses is Mario Mandzukic, who looks set to be frozen out at Bayern Munich due to the signing of Robert Lewandowski. The Dortmund forward was the only Bundesliga player to net more goals than the Croatian last season (18), so the fact that he's on the radars of Arsenal and Chelsea should come as no surprise. The target man exhibited his abilities in an excellent performance against Cameroon in the group stages, scoring twice from four shots and winning five aerial duels to earn WhoScored.com's man-of-the-match award with a rating of 9.20.
Serge Aurier (Ivory Coast)
Also heavily linked with a move to the capital this summer, Ivory Coast's Serge Aurier did his reputation no harm whatsoever despite the Africans' early exit. The right-back emerged as the highest rated player (7.65) in his position during the group stages according to WhoScored, continuing his excellent form from Ligue 1 with Toulouse. The defender picked up two assists in his three appearances, which is something that only two players could better in the initial phase, whilst also averaging 2.7 tackles and three interceptions per game.
Bruno Martins Indi (Netherlands)
One of a number of Dutch players linked with a move to Manchester United following the confirmation of Louis van Gaal's appointment, Bruno Martins Indi has had an eventful World Cup campaign, including injury and, at times, ill-discipline. The centre-back, nevertheless, proved his quality as part of a solid back three that kept the holders Spain at bay - bar a Xabi Alonso penalty - in a thrilling opening encounter. The fact that United are being linked to centre-backs is no shock given the departures of the old guard (Ferdinand and Vidic). After a season that saw him play at both centre and left-back with Feyenoord, earning an average rating from WhoScored.com of 7.00 in the process, his versatility would certainly come in handy.
Enner Valencia (Ecuador)
Perhaps the most unheralded and unheard of out of the five here prior to the World Cup, Enner Valencia gave English fans a glimpse of his ability when scoring an impressive header in a pre-tournament friendly against the Three Lions. His aerial threat in the box has been evident in the finals too, despite standing at just over 5'8", with an exceptional leap in his armoury. The 25-year-old's pace and finishing ability has also caught the eye, netting three times in Ecuador's opening two matches, recording a conversion rate of 37.5% and WhoScored.com rating of 7.50 in turn. There's always one player that emerges out of the blue from a major international tournament, and with Tottenham and Everton both touted with an interest, that man could be Enner Valencia this time around.
All statistics courtesy of WhoScored.com, where you can find yet more stats, including live in-game data and unique player and team ratings.