World Cup bargain buys from Brazil 2014
WhoScored.com's Ali Tweedale looks at ten players who impressed at the World Cup that could be available for a song this summer. There's certainly value to be found...
By Ali Tweedale - WhoScored.com
Last Updated: 16/07/14 1:47pm
As Liverpool proved earlier this summer with a fee rising to £26m for Adam Lallana, buying English means paying big money. Meanwhile, despite the huge audience, the World Cup still represents the chance to uncover fantastic value in players across the planet. Here's ten of the best.
Very few people predicted Algeria's first ever progression to the knockout stages of a World Cup, and fewer still would have foreseen their incredible goalscoring exploits. Only six teams scored more in the groups stages than Algeria (six), with Islam Slimani leading the line. He scored twice and registered a WhoScored rating of 7.37 in games he started, adding an assist and taking 2.3 shots per game. After a successful season at Sporting Lisbon he could be on the move to bigger things, although the last Sporting striker to move to the Premier League (Ricky van Wolfswinkel) didn't do too well, so prospective suitors may be wary.
Swiss goalkeeper Benaglio conceded seven goals in Brazil and yet still ranked as WhoScored's second-best goalkeeper at the tournament (7.85), making 20 saves in just four games, including a penalty in the defeat to France. He saved 71.4% of the shots he was tested with even though he was barely helped by the error-prone defensive partnership of Philippe Senderos and Johan Djourou.
It is a rare thing to find a cheap, proven Premier League defender, especially one whose team came third at the World Cup with one of the staunchest back lines in the tournament. Nonetheless, Aston Villa's Ron Vlaar, with one year left on his contract at the Midlands club, has proven he has what it takes to step up to - at the very least - a team in the top half of the table. Only one player made more clearances than Vlaar (63) at the World Cup, and the £6m price tag that has been quoted looks like it could be something of a steal. The younger Dutch centre-back Stefan de Vrij, who is alongside Vlaar in our team of the tournament, could also be available for a reasonable fee from Feyenoord.
Mehrdad Pooladi is still playing in the Iranian Premier League but an impressive World Cup may have provided the platform for a move to Europe. The left-back made a combined 6.3 tackles and interceptions per game in Brazil, which was up there with the highest in the competition. Iran held Nigeria to a goalless draw and were only undone by Lionel Messi at the death, with Pooladi playing every minute and being awarded man of the match in the opening game. Only when Iran pushed out to score against Bosnia did their defence really come unstuck and Pooladi hinted that he is ready for bigger challenges.
Available on a free this summer, 32-year-old Jermaine Jones might be off to MLS but he could certainly do a job in the Premier League. An unsuccessful stint at Blackburn in 2011 could dissuade those considering a move but his performances in Brazil and average rating of 7.39 may convince them of his quality. Energetic and strong, Jones is a powerful athlete who has one hell of a shot on him, as he displayed against Portugal.
Young Bosnian Muhamed Besic was tasked with thwarting Lionel Messi on his World Cup debut and he managed to keep tabs on him for the most part (at least until the Argentine scored one of the goals of the tournament). Besic maintained a pass success rate of 91% over the course of the competition and broke up play effectively with 3.0 tackles, 2.3 interceptions and 3.3 fouls per appearance. Moves to Swansea and Everton have both been mooted in the press for a bargain reported £4m fee.
Arsenal's goalkeeping problems have been ongoing since the days of Jens Lehmann, and while Wojciech Szczesny's most recent season was arguably his most reliable, there is still the need for genuine competition between the sticks. Colombia's David Ospina has been linked with a £3m move and, at that price, he would be a genuine bargain for any Premier League club. Arsenal would be particularly keen to secure the signature of a stopper who is comfortable coming out for crosses; Ospina successfully claimed more (12) than any other goalkeeper at the World Cup.
Domineering centre-back Giancarlo Gonzalez registered an average rating of 7.55 as Costa Rica's joint-best player at the Brazil World Cup, having made 9.4 clearances per game and providing a solid wall in front of Keylor Navas' goal. The goalkeeper is said to be on his way to Bayern, while Gonzalez will head back to MLS side Columbus Crew, despite having shown himself to be capable at a higher level. Costa Ricans generally don't command huge transfer fees and he could be a good buy for one of the Premier League's so-called 'lesser' clubs looking to survive in the top flight.
Admir Mehmedi was tipped in some quarters to impress in Brazil and, while he hasn't returned to Freiburg in high demand, he did his reputation no harm with a string of fine performances. His half-time introduction in Switzerland's first game against Ecuador turned the game on its head and he subsequently played all but seven minutes of his country's campaign. His statistically calculated strengths include dribbling, passing and through balls, while his work rate would certainly appeal to fans in England.
Croatia's World Cup was cut disappointingly short. Disappointing not only for Croatians themselves, but also neutrals who wanted to see their great many talents showcase just how good they really are. Ivan Perisic arguably came off best from their squad, having scored twice and set up another in just three appearances, attempting an impressive 3.7 shots per game. He helped Wolfsburg to a 5th-placed finish in last season's Bundeslida, and subsequent Europa League qualification, but could be looking to ply his trade at an even higher level.
All statistics courtesy of WhoScored.com, where you can find more stats, including live in-game data and unique player and team ratings.