Hirving Lozano Mexico

Premier League Transfers Analysis: World Cup 2018 Stars

3 months ago

We’ve seen it countless times before: players delivering a series of stellar showings at the World Cup are quickly snapped up by Premier League clubs, who seem to throw the standard rules of scouting and acquisition out of the window in the increasingly-bonkers summer transfer window.

But caution is advised: for every James Rodriguez there’s an El-Hadji Diouf horror story waiting to be written, and for every Gilberto Silva there’s a Kleberson lurking in the shadows.

Some clubs have already been at it, with Uruguay’s Lucas Torreira on his way to Arsenal, Portugal’s Ricardo Perreira bound for the East Midlands with Leicester and his teammate Rui Patricio set to take up residence in goal for an increasingly-continental Wolverhampton Wanderers.

So, who will be next off the World Cup production line? Here are five candidates eyeing a summer move to UK shores.

Hirving Lozano

When you search for ‘most successful take-ons (dribbles) at World Cup 2018’, the usual suspects appear on the list: messrs Messi, Hazard, Neymar, Isco and rising star Kylian Mbappe.

Also in the top ten is Hirving Lozano, the Mexican tearaway who lit up the competition in his side’s victory over Germany in the group stage.

The Mexico story ended rather abruptly with a 0-2 defeat to Brazil in the Round of 16, and yet oddly it felt like Lozano walked away from the competition a winner.

The 22-year-old joined PSV at the start of last season, and my how he took to Dutch football. Seventeen goals, eight assists later and Lozano had helped his new employer to regain the Eredivisie title.

He may only be 22 but Lozano has been on the radar of many top clubs for some time. At Pachuca, the Mexican club he joined as a boy, he progressed through the ranks to the first team and blasted more than 40 goals in three seasons, claiming the Golden Boot trophy in the CONCACAF Champions League before he was even (legally) old enough to celebrate his exploits with a glass of champagne; or perhaps a shot of Tequila.

The stumbling block for would-be suitors is that he signed a six-year, yes, six-year contract with PSV, which naturally now has five years left to run. That, allied to his World Cup efforts, has seen his value soar this summer.

Mind you, that won’t put off cash-rich owners in the Premier League, and you can be sure that if Eden Hazard heads to Real Madrid to replace Ronaldo, Chelsea will be keen to bring in a player of Lozano’s class as soon as possible.

Juan Quintero

The diminutive Colombian has long been touted for big things, but has struggled to thrive in the shadow of his more recognisable international teammate James Rodriguez.

But with the Bayern man injured for much of World Cup 2018, Quintero took his chance to shine; scoring a clever free kick and assisting two other goals in his side’s run to the last 16.

The 25-year-old’s career had stalled to such an extent that he was jettisoned by owners Porto, who have sent him on loan to clubs in Italy, Colombia and Argentina to help the fleet-footed attacker find his confidence.

It seems to have paid dividends, given his performances at the World Cup, although the problem for the Portuguese outfit now may just be in hanging on to their prized possession.

Quintero draws comparisons with Lionel Messi due to his size, low centre of gravity and dribbling ability, and while he isn’t at the level of the Barcelona man yet, a Premier League side in desperate need for some attacking flair could do a lot worse than taking a chance on the Colombian.

Viktor Claesson

According to the excellent WhoScored, only two players have carried out more successful interceptions at World Cup 2018 than Sweden’s Viktor Claesson.

Give his status as a nominally attacking midfielder – he also assisted two of the Swedes’ six tournament goals – it shows that Claesson could well be a versatile talent worth looking at in the transfer window.

The 26-year-old scored ten and assisted six more for club side Krasnodar in Russia’s Premier League last season, which helped them to a top-four finish in a surprisingly competitive division.

Claesson has Europa League experience to call upon too, as well as now being a World Cup star, and you could easily see him slip into any Premier League side outside of the top six. Given his present employment at Krasnodar, he surely wouldn’t break the bank either.

Aleksandr Golovin

The English sports pages tend to go into overdrive at this time of the year, and most have been touting Russian star Aleksandr Golovin with a move to either Manchester United or Arsenal.

The 27-year-old was a key figure in the host nation’s surprise run to the last eight, netting in their opening game demolition of Saudi Arabia and assisting two other goals in the tournament to boot.

Denis Cheryshev, with his goal exploits, and the totemic frontman Artem Dzyuba have earned hero status in their homeland, but in terms of sheer quality it is Golovin who has stood head-and-shoulders above his international colleagues.

The nature of signing a player after a successful World Cup campaign means you have to pay a premium on their price, but you wouldn’t think it would take an extortionate amount by today’s standards to prise the playmaker from present employer CSKA Moscow.

Wahbi Khazri

Of all the players to shine at World Cup 2018, few would have tipped Sunderland reject Wahbi Khazri to stand out.

The Tunisian scored twice and created two more as he guided his country to victory over Panama and followed up with respectable showings against England and Belgium.

After spending last season on loan at Rennes in Ligue 1, Khazri now must suffer the indignity of returning to Sunderland in League One.

More likely is that a Premier League side will step in and land a bargain of a player in his prime at 27, who has already experienced the rough-and-tumble of the English top flight.

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Written by Craig Simpkin

A sports journalist with a smorgasbord of experience writing for a variety of publications, Craig is a Leicester fan hoping that England can also achieve the impossible this summer.