Attacking midfield: James Rodriguez (COL)
Only the English media could hail as a "breakout" star someone who was transferred last summer for €45m, although that says as much for Monaco's financial exceptionalism as it does this country's Anglocentrism (with the odd exotic exception – a sprinkle of Spanish football, a dash of Serie A). But World Cups heighten profiles, and James Rodriguez has seen his raised to the point where he has attracted the inevitable attention of that habitual butterfly collector Florentino Perez at Real Madrid.
However you pronounce his forename – and it seemed to provoke more debate than anyone could possibly care about – Rodriguez was the central creative pivot in an attractive, effective Colombia team. Only four men made more assists, and he created 12 chances.
But it was as a more direct threat that Rodriguez caught the eye. More second striker than trequartista, he won the Golden Boot for his six goals; these came from just nine shots (a 66.6% conversion rate), of which he got eight on target (88.8% accuracy). And just to further float Florentino's boat as he imagines the marketing possibilities, the 23-year-old is also annoyingly good-looking. But is he happy? Probably, yes.
, World Cup 2014
, FIFA World Cup
, Bayern München
, Aston Villa
, Real Madrid