World Cup 2018: Players in The Shop Window in Russia This Summer

World Cup 2018: Players in The Shop Window in Russia This Summer
Simon Winter
Simon Winter
June 6, 2018
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Born in the south east of Ireland, Simon put his life-long love of football to good use when he started a successful independent blog in 2010. That opened up an alternative route to a career in journalism, and having had work published across a number of sites and publications, Simon joined the staff at Spotlight Sports Group in 2018.

With football clubs’ extensive scouting systems and networks pushing the knowledge of players to unprecedently high levels in recent years, the term “unknown quantity” holds a little less weight than it used to.

That being said, the World Cup still presents players with an opportunity to knock any dithering potential suitors off the fence and onto their trail. This summer’s transfer market isn’t expected to fully kick into gear until after the tournament in Russia with clubs and players keen to hold off on making deals in the hope that some top performances can add a few million to a transfer fee and a few zeros to a wage packet.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the players who will hope to use their performances at World Cup 2018 as a transfer catalyst.

Nabil Fekir – France & Lyon

Approximate Value – £60m

2017/18 Record: 39 appearances, 23 goals

Linked With – Liverpool, Bayern Munich

English Premier League club Liverpool are hot on the tail of Lyon’s sensational attacking midfielder Nabil Fekir. Jurgen Klopp is said to be keen to complete a deal for Fekir before the World Cup kicks off, though Lyon Chairman Jean-Michel Aulas is understandably hoping to delay the transfer until after this summer’s tournament.

Aulas is a shrewd transfer market operator and he will be fully aware that Fekir’s value could soar if produces the goods in Russia. With Bayern Munich also circling, a bidding war for Fekir’s services would also drive the price up.

Fekir’s agent Jean-Pierre Bernes told French outlet Le Progres “Talks with Liverpool will only happen when there is an agreement with Lyon and Jean-Michel Aulas gives the green light. Liverpool’s interest exists, but for now nothing is done. The transfer window is long. Other clubs could show interest.”

Read More: Can France do it away from the comforts of home?

Xherdan Shaqiri – Switzerland & Stoke City

Approximate Value – £12m

2017/18 Record: 38 appearances, 8 goals

Linked With – Tottenham Hotspur, Southampton, Everton, West Ham

Swiss international winger Xherdan Shaqiri is currently trying to engineer a move away from recently relegated Premier League side Stoke City. Shaqiri is a player of considerable international pedigree, having represented Switzerland 69 times since his debut in 2010.

The 26-year old has been at Stoke for three seasons and ironically, he saved his best campaign in terms of individual statistics for the Potters’ miserable overall 2017/18 season. Shaqiri came through the ranks at FC Basel, before moving to Bayern Munich in 2012 and on to Inter in Italy three years later.

Tottenham Hotspur are said to be at the front of the queue for Shaqiri’s services and at the prices quoted, the diminutive winger could represent one of the bargains of the summer. There is bound to be some concern in Shaqiri’s camp about the amount of game-time he would get at Spurs however.

With that in mind, Shaqiri will hope that his performances at the World Cup in Russia will open more doors for him and strengthen his hand in any potential negotiations.

Read More: The Outsiders: Dark Horses to Watch Out For at World Cup 2018

Ismaila Sarr– Senegal & Rennes

Approximate Value – £60m

2017/18 Record: 27 appearances, 5 goals

Linked With – Barcelona, Real Madrid, PSG, Manchester City

Languid 20-year old winger Ismaila Sarr is the next big thing to come out off the Senegalese football production line. Having come from same youth setup as Sadio Mane at AS Génération Foot, Sarr has been tipped to emulate the Liverpool star at a big club sooner rather than later.

Sarr moved to French club Rennes just last year, transferring from fellow Ligue 1 outfit Metz for a fee believed to be between €17m and €20m. The Saint-Louis born youngster is just one year into a four-year contract at Les Rouges et Noirs, which means it will take an enormous offer to prise him away from France.

The clubs linked with a move for Sarr certainly have the financial clout to set the wheels in motion for a transfer, though they should note that Sarr isn’t interested in warming a substitutes bench. Sarr rejected moves to Barcelona and Borussia Dortmund last summer in favour of a switch to Rennes, electing to choose playing time over a bigger wage packet. Refreshing.

Read More: World Cup Group H Analysis: Poland Favourites to Top Tight Section

Emil Forsberg – Sweden & RB Leipzig

Approximate Value – £40m

2017/18 Record: 27 appearances, 5 goals

Linked With – Arsenal, Juventus, PSG

Having been denied a move last summer by RB Leipzig CEO Oliver Mintzlaff, Swedish creative midfielder Emil Forsberg could finally take the next step in his club career this summer. However, with club team mate Naby Keita already jumping ship to the Premier League, RB Leipzig will be keen to hold on to Forsberg to stem the exit of talent from the club.

Described as the “anti-Zlatan” for his muted demeanour, Forsberg is unlikely to rock the boat too much if RB Leipzig again rebuff all offers for him, though his agent Hasan Cetinkaya will be less easy to dissuade.

Arsenal have been heavily linked with Forsberg and the Sundsvall born schemer certainly fits the archetypal Gunners player template. Italian giants Juventus are also reportedly keeping tabs on Forsberg, whose price is expected to rise after he pulls the strings for Sweden at this summer’s World Cup.

Timo Werner – Germany & RB Leipzig

Approximate Value – £60m

2017/18 Record: 45 appearances, 21 goals

Linked With – Liverpool, Manchester United, Bayern Munich

“If I want to become a great champion, I will probably have to play in a different club, I want to be honest in this sense. Naby Keita has not fully established himself with us, but he could become a top player at Liverpool.”

That certainly sounds like a player considering his options and if Time Werner does decide to push for a transfer this summer, there will be no shortage of takers for the 22-year old.

Having burst onto the scene as a raw teenager for VfB Stuttgart in 2013, Werner made a €10m move to RB Leipzig to 2016, scoring 20+ goals in each of his two seasons at the Red Bull Arena. Werner’s quotes this week suggest that he is open to a move to the Premier League and with Jurgen Klopp at the helm and team mate Keita already on his way, Liverpool looks a very viable destination.

Werner did however say he would prefer a move to Liverpool’s Premier League rivals Manchester United should the opportunity present itself, in an interview with FourFourTwo just two months ago. He said:

“Manchester United and Liverpool were the teams I watched quite a lot in England. They were the two that I’m a little bit a fan of, because they have so much history. When Alex Ferguson was the coach, United won everything and were outstanding. In Liverpool it’s also their stadium and the atmosphere. But when I have to decide, I’m more Manchester United than Liverpool.”

However, Bayern Munich are lurking with intent on the periphery of things and as always when it comes to German players and Der FCB, they rarely fail to get their man. With their current number nine Robert Lewandowski  reportedly considering his future, Werner looks like a ready-made replacement for the Polish international.

Read More: Can Germany Fill the Boots Left by Miroslav Klose?

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