The greatest shop window in football is set to imminently open.
World Cups send the transfer market into overdrive, forcing clubs to reassess their business as fresh targets grab their attention. This was the case in Brazil four years ago when Colombia playmaker’s James Rodriguez’s startling six-goal haul convinced Real Madrid to spend £71 million (Dh447.2m) and procure him from Monaco.
This process is sure to repeat during the coming weeks in Russia as emerging prospects earn their step up to the big time.
Here, we run through a list of footballers who will be keenly watched by scouts.
PSV Eindhoven winger Lozano is the latest prospect off the production line from Mexico to Europe.
Regularly playing as an inverted left winger, his tally of eight assists and 17 goals played a key role in last term’s Eredivisie title success during a debut campaign to cherish.
The 22-year-old had been linked to both Manchester giants while at Pachuca. A World Cup-campaign that continues his form from the Netherlands could convince a super power to take the plunge.
One of the highest transfer fees of the 2018 transfer window will have to be paid to snare the Serbia centre midfielder from Lazio.
Labelled ‘Mr 100 million’ by La Gazzetta dello Sport thanks to his domination of Serie A midfields in 2017/18 and 12-goal haul, the multi-talented 23-year-old is already an object of intense desire, with Manchester United emerging as one of the interested parties.
How he gets on for Serbia – after being snubbed for qualifying – will be key to what happens next.
A defender of Pavard’s talents deserves better than performing for the Bundesliga’s seventh-placed side.
Pavard, 22, is blessed with elegance on the ball and a keen sense of anticipation. These skills mean he has emerged as a likely starter at right-back for France.
This is not his usual position for Stuttgart, where he is picked at centre-back. Versatility that has already been noted by North London rivals Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur.
A secret weapon has emerged for Argentina to unleash at World Cup 2018.
Boca Juniors forward Pavon, 22, has done what the likes of Juventus’ Paulo Dybala and Internazionale’s Mauro Icardi have failed to do – get on a wavelength with Barcelona icon Lionel Messi. This relationship, already witnessed in the friendly against Haiti, will have prospective employers purring.
If goals are added to his repertoire in Russia, then the path to Europe opens up further for the €37-rated (Dh181.4m) attacker.
It is a good time to be Denmark’s centre forward.
A supply line that contains Celta Vigo left winger Sisto and Tottenham playmaker Christian Eriksen is sure to be profitable. The former mentioned has a £40m (Dh196.1m) release clause in La Liga, an amount that hasn’t dissuaded the likes of Everton and Southampton from pursuing him.
Pull the strings against elite opposition such as France and this list is sure to grow.
Questions marks about Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer’s long-term fitness have seen Bayern Munich plan to keep scouting Everton and England No1 Jordan Pickford at World Cup 2018, according to reports.
Pickford, 24, has emerged as Gareth Southgate’s first-choice between the posts after an outstanding debut campaign on Merseyside following last June’s £25 million (Dh122.6m) switch from relegated Sunderland.
The Sun state that such form has not gone unnoticed by the perennial Bundesliga champions. Neuer, 32, has only just recovered from a serious foot injury that caused him to miss eight months of 2017/18’s march to the title.
Pickford’s similar ability on the ball and shot-stopping prowess has convinced them to watch him in action in Russia this summer.
The Premier League transfer window is now open and the market in the rest of Europe will spark into life soon.
With the transfer rumours growing in pace and volume during this ‘silly season’, it can be difficult and painstaking to separate the stories of some legitimacy from the rest of the noise.
Fortunately, we’ve taken it upon ourselves to do it for you.
Below, you’ll find some of the latest transfer news churned out of the rumour mill broken down and analysed for your benefit along with our calculated predictions.
Why it will happen: The Red Devils are desperate to sign a new midfield enforcer and the 25-year-old certainly fits the bill, given there have been widespread rumours over the Italian’s Parc des Princes future. United have more clout than most sides and could afford his £75 million (Dh 367m) valuation.
Why it won’t happen: Real Madrid have also long been linked with the combative defensive midfielder and a switch to the Spanish capital may prove too irresistible for Verratti. Jose Mourinho needs quality, but is he tall enough and big enough for his ideal United midfield?
Prediction: He is set to end his six-season stay in Paris and is likely to be the centre of a bidding war this summer.
Rating – 8/10
Why it will happen: Unai Emery is an admirer of the Moroccan and is desperate to strengthen the heart of the Gunners’ defence. Benatia’s experience and pedigree would be just perfect.
Why it won’t happen: The defender does not want to discuss his future until after the World Cup which could potentially mean the north London club face competition for his signature.
Prediction: Juventus are pursuing Atletico Madrid stalwart Diego Godin and rising Ajax star Matthijs de Ligt, so if either of those deals comes to fruition, Benatia will be all but surplus to requirements and free to move to Arsenal.
Rating – 7/10
Why it will happen: The 32-year-old is somewhat of a veteran now in the sphere of European football and could view this as possibly the last move of his career. He has previously stated how he would not pass-up the opportunity to play for the Rossoneri club.
Why it won’t happen: Monaco have not exactly gone on the record to state that they would be happy to sell their star striker so expect the Ligue 1 club to hold out for big cash from Milan, should they come calling.
Prediction: The Colombian forward may see this as the final challenge of a largely illustrious career and is set for talks after the World Cup.
Rating – 7/10