The Premier League is represented by 110 players in the World Cup – more than any other league in the world. And whilst we, in England, have a selection of the world’s greatest names in the sport, we look set to welcome a whole host of new stars to our shores come the start of the 2014-15 campaign.
During World Cup season, transfer speculation is rife, with everyone getting the chance to assess their team’s next top transfer target almost every day.
With unprecedented levels of excitement – attacking football, end-to-end games, goals galore – it’s hard to argue against the 2014 World Cup being the best on record.
Despite many big moves already having been made in the transfer window this summer, many more look set to occur, including a host of the World Cup’s top performers.
Here is a list of the top Premier League-bound performers this summer.
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Mexico’s sturdy defence was greatly assisted by the heroics of Guillermo Ochoa. The Mexican stopper put in a man-of-the-match performance against Brazil, shutting out the hosts in a hard-fought 0-0 draw. Ochoa is currently a free agent after being released by Ajaccio following their relegation to Ligue 2. Liverpool and Arsenal are both reported to be seriously considering a move for him.
Croatia were unable to progress beyond a tricky group, but this didn’t stop Perisic from doing what he could. The Wolfsburg winger was by far and away his country’s best performer in their three games, netting twice and getting one assist. He provided a constant threat from the left wing, impressing in the final third. Roberto Martinez has been strongly credited with an interest in Perisic as he looks to bolster Everton’s squad ahead of European football this season.
Chile were one of the surprise packages this summer, and found themselves very unfortunate to be eliminated on penalties against Brazil in their last 16 tie. Amongst their star players, Barcelona’s Alexis Sanchez was the brightest as he scored twice, and beat players at will. The Spanish club are looking to cash in on the Chilean, with Manchester United, Arsenal, and Liverpool all being keen admirers.
Three substitute appearances have resulted in two goals so far this World Cup for PSV’s Memphis Depay. The lightning-fast winger has demonstrated his eye for goal in his three cameo roles, with game-changing performances each time. Manchester United are in serious need of fresh ideas, with their wide midfielders not providing enough creativity and goal threat last season. Depay has links with van Gaal, and could be on his way to Old Trafford.
Technically, Campbell is already a Premier League player, having been on the books of Arsenal since 2011. However, work permit issues have prevented him from making his club debut. Now, however, Campbell looks ready to step up to the plate for the Gunners. He is Costa Rica’s most potent threat up top, and put in a match-winning display as they upset the odds, beating Uruguay 3-1 in their opening match before topping the ‘Group of Death’. He will be given a chance to impress with the Gunners in pre-season, and could finally make his mark in England this year.
The tragic passing of Ecuador’s captain and star striker, Christian Benitez, last year struck the nation deeply. Enner Valencia was tasked with shouldering much of the vacated attacking burden, and he performed admirably as Ecuador fell at the group stage. Three goals in as many games, and some powerful displays to go along with his goal return, have alerted the likes of Newcastle and West Ham. Currently based in Mexico, Valencia will no doubt be intrigued by Premier League interest.
Another Ecuadorian who took the chance to shine in Brazil was Jefferson Montero – also based in Mexico. The left winger’s speed and fast feet in possession caused problems as Ecuador briefly threatened to qualify through to the last 16. He has recently announced he will come to Europe this summer, with both West Ham and Arsenal having been attributed with an interest in bringing the £4 million-rated winger to the Premier League.
It took until Switzerland’s final group game for Shaqiri to come to the fore, but when he finally arrived, it was worth the wait. A classy hat-trick against Honduras, including a wondrous 25-yard strike, helped secure his country’s progression into the first knockout round. The diminutive winger is Switzerland’s primary creative threat, but he doesn’t have the same importance at club level. Liverpool are hot on his case, and look certain to finalise a deal for him this summer.
Nigeria managed to progress from Group F with favourites, Argentina, and the industry of Emmanuel Emenike up top has been no small contributory factor. He tormented Bosnian defender, Emir Spahic, all evening as the Super Eagles triumphed 1-0, virtually securing qualification. The combination of physical might and powerful running is a nightmarish prospect for any defence. Chelsea have been strongly linked with the Fenerbahce man as Jose Mourinho tries to strengthen a weak front line at Stamford Bridge.
In a team full of Premier League stars, Belgium’s biggest threat this summer has been 19-year-old striker, Divock Origi. The Lille man was an unknown quantity for most in England until the past few weeks, but three substitute appearances have alerted the likes of Liverpool and Tottenham to his talents. He has the pace to run in behind defenders, and likes to pick the ball up and beat his marker. A winner to secure qualification against Russia capped off what has been a great World Cup so far for Origi. He looks destined for a Premier League switch in due course.