Which World Cup star should your club sign this summer?
In recent years, there’s been an increasing feeling that signing players on the back of a World Cup is very dangerous – but if it’s good enough for James Rodriguez and Real Madrid, it’s good enough for everyone else too.
Here’s a rundown of 20 players that Premier League clubs should be looking to acquire on the back of their World Cup performances…
Arsenal - Sokratis Papastathopoulos (Greece)
Arsenal desperately need another centre-back. Bacary Sagna was effectively acting as their fourth-choice centre-back as well as first-choice right-back last season, while Thomas Vermaelen could still leave the club this summer. Papastathopoulos might not be a regular at Dortmund last season, but his World Cup performances suggest he’s one of the best defenders around – he’s always in the right position, and fearsome in the air. Also able to cover at right-back if needed, he could be a perfect player for Arsene Wenger.
Aston Villa – Senad Lulic (Bosnia)
Paul Lambert likes changing formation from game to game, as he did excellently at Norwich – although this has been less obvious at Aston Villa, perhaps as he doesn’t have such versatile players. Lulic, however, would be perfect. A highly energetic player capable of playing anywhere on the left flank, from full-back to wide forward, and able to deputise on the right too, he’d increase Lambert’s tactical options significantly.
Burnley - Mehrdad Pooladi (Iran)
Few players in history have been rewarded for a good World Cup performance by securing a move to Burnley, but they have money to spend, and Premier League football to offer. Iran were impressive despite failing to win a game – causing Argentina real problems in their narrow 1-0 defeat in the second round – and left-back Pooladi looked a very tidy player. He could provide competition for the inexperienced Ben Mee.
Chelsea – Memphis Depay (Netherlands)
Chelsea are well-stocked in his position, but Jose Mourinho can never have enough explosive, tricky wingers. Depay was highly impressive at the World Cup, transforming the game against Australia as a substitute, creating one goal and scoring the winner, before hitting another goal against Chile. In the knockout stage he showed his tactical discipline by playing as a wing-back, which suggests he can perform his tactical tasks well, and at 20 years old there’s surely more to come.
Crystal Palace – Giancarlo Gonzalez (Costa Rica)
Tony Pulis needs combative, all-action centre-backs who are capable of playing deep and repeatedly heading away crosses – so who better than Gonzalez, who did precisely that throughout Costa Rica’s surprise run to the World Cup quarter-finals? Named in many teams of the tournament, Gonzalez showed his quality against strikers of the calibre of Edinson Cavani, Mario Balotelli, Daniel Sturridge and Robin van Persie, so there’s no reason he couldn’t play well in the Premier League.