Man United target Blind and three other players who could shine in England
Trevor Murray takes a look at four World Cup stars who could light up the Premier League in seasons to come
The hottest property in world football right now, James Rodríguez would be welcomed not only by the club lucky enough to secure his signature, but also by a vast amounts of neutrals, too. With such unbridled talent, the Colombian star, who netted six goals at this summer’s World Cup, sprung from absolutely nowhere to quickly become the most sought-after player in today’s market. And in truth it’s hard to see why he wouldn’t fit impeccably into any of the top teams’ starting XI – after all, he’s already proven himself on the biggest stage of them all. Not to mention, his pace, ball control, speed of thought and coolness under pressure all lends itself to the idea that Rodríguez is well beyond a flash in the pan; he’s got raw talent and he’s not afraid to use it. Manchester United would certainly benefit from having the 23-year-old star in their ranks, and although it’s now common knowledge that Spanish giants Real Madrid are his dream club, he could just as easily find success at Old Trafford, too. Of course, there will remain questions about his ability to transfer his World Cup potential across to performances on a week-in, week-out basis until he makes waves domestically as well. At the end of the day, coming into a new environment with a new coach, Rodriguez might not find a switch like this conducive to playing good football. However, the Red Devils might just need to stump up the cash and take a bit of a gamble to stop him from falling into the hands of a European rival – it could just be the wisest move Louis van Gaal makes this summer, and he’s already made his fair share.
A world-beater, but not yet an international champion, Daley Blind has had a tremendous World Cup campaign. Operating primarily as a left wing-back for the Dutch national team throughout the tournament, perhaps his most memorable moment of the competition will be the pass he played for Robin van Persie’s wonder-goal against Spain in the group stage. A consummate professional, the Ajax player showed the world not only how capable he is, but also how versatile he can be, too – a characteristic many of the Premier league’s top managers would appreciate. Skilful and probing, his ability to conjure something out of nothing may well be the sort of ability that can often go missing when it’s needed most, but there can be little denying just how effective he can be on his day. Obviously, fans of United would love to see him link up with Van Gaal and Van Persie, but if another big English club were to come knocking, he might just be tempted to move elsewhere. After all, money talks.
Had it not been for an early Ecuadorian exit, Enner Valencia could have found himself in heady Rodriguezian territory in terms of transfer coverage and flashy headlines. Alas, an opening day defeat to Switzerland combined with a scoreless draw against France meant that South America’s underdogs had to contend themselves with just four points. But a shining light from their premature disappearance from this summer’s feast of football was the fact that the lesser-known Valencia had more time to focus on sorting out his future. Nabbing three goals in total, the Pachuca forward set his name in lights, momentarily at least. Heavily linked with West Ham since those string of performances, the 25-year-old could seek better wages, a league to improve different areas of his game and a chance to start moving further up the ladder. Because although a move to the Hammers is still very much up in their air, if he impressed at Boleyn Park, he could snag himself European football eventually.
One of France’s best players in Brazil, Paul Pogba is a star that would immediately improve any team straight off the bat. Young and gifted, he has years to perfect and shape his game, and with a European Championship to come on home soil in just under two years’ time, the Juventus man will have his eyes set on securing silverware alongside many of Didier Deschamps’ current crop of performers. His ability to assist and pick out instrumental passes are a product of his incisive vision as well as his excellent footballing brain, and the 21-year-old would certainly make light work of many of the league’s minnows, especially the newly-promoted ones. The only real blemish on Pogba’s CV is his tendency to lash out and get involved in silly altercations on the field of play; his short-fuse can be a problem and is something that opposing teams in England’s top-flight wouldn’t be afraid to target. In terms of natural ability and his capacity to improve tenfold, though, he’d certainly be a shrewd investment.