Hazard, Mbappe and other World Cup stars who could be on the move this summer

Matt Jones 16/07/2018
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The World Cup might well be over but the fallout from the tournament will now begin in earnest as some of the stars on show in Russia will surely be earning big money club moves after a stellar month.

With the European club season just a few weeks away in some domestic leagues, the next few weeks are sure to be a hive of frenzied activity as clubs and players alike look to get a myriad of deals completed.

Here are a few of the stars of the World Cup that could well be on the move following magnificent performances this summer:

NEYMAR

Mixed fortunes in Russia: Neymar.

With Cristiano Ronaldo having now turned his attentions to Turin, Real Madrid are certain to make some monster moves in the transfer market this summer.

He may have attracted more attention for his histrionics and haircuts rather than his heroics with Brazil, but if there’s one player Madrid would want to bring in the same summer Ronaldo leaves, there’s probably only one man who fits the bill.

Real appear to be chasing Neymar, Kylian Mbappe, Harry Kane and Eden Hazard so it could be a manic few weeks in the Spanish capital.

The rumours are flying that Neymar is far from happy in the sedate environment of Ligue 1, despite raking in the money, and Los Blancos might well be ready to pull the trigger.

Chances of it happening: 6/10

KYLIAN MBAPPE

World Cup winner: Kylian Mbappe.

With the possibility of Neymar moving on from the French capital, it seems unthinkable to believe another of their gems may leave, but after a coming of age tournament, it may be time for Mbappe to come to his senses.

His stock has been on the rise since a breakthrough 2016/17 season for Monaco but the precarious and protracted nature of his two-year loan deal at PSG might be a deciding factor, with the French giants facing FIFA financial fair play issues.

A number of standout performances for France at the World Cup saw Mbappe score four goals and earn the Best Young Player award, meaning Real President Florentino Perez may feel he needs to act now.

Chances of it happening: 4/10

 

EDEN HAZARD

Strong tournament: Eden Hazard.

Four man of the match awards in Russia – including a devastating performance as Belgium surpassed the class of ’86 by beating England in the third-place play-off to earn their best-ever World Cup finish.

The attacking midfielder was rampant for the Red Devils in Russia – including a starring role in Belgium’s brilliant quarter-final win over Brazil.

This came following a mediocre season with Chelsea. Hazard basically issued a ‘come and get me’ plea to suitors, including Real, when he said after the England victory: “I’ve spent six years in England. I played a good World Cup. In the future you never know what’s going to happen.”

Chances of it happening: 9/10

THIBAUT COURTOIS

Heading back to the Spanish capital?

Another Belgian heading out of Chelsea appears to be goalkeeper Courtois, whose brilliant World Cup should only serve to speed up his Stamford Bridge exit.

And he could follow Hazard to the Santiago Bernabeu, having been linked to Los Blancos for a number of years.

Courtois spent three years in Madrid on loan at Atletico in his early Chelsea days and has already stated his desire to return given he has family in the city.

The 26-year-old was outstanding in Belgium’s last eight win over Brazil, with HLN journalist Kristof Terreur claiming Madrid and Chelsea have been locked in discussions over recent weeks.

Chances of it happening: 8/10

HIRVING LOZANO

Breakout star: Hirving Lozano.

Lozano introduced himself to the global stage in stunning style with a winning goal as Mexico shocked reigning champions Germany 1-0 in their opening Group E encounter.

He’d served notice of his talent in the lead-up to the tournament with a stunning debut season in the Netherlands – where his 17 goals and eight assists placed him fourth and sixth highest respectively.

The 22-year-old arrived in PSV Eindhoven from Pachuca 12 months ago but may not be lying low in Holland for long.

Manchester United have been linked to Lozano as a cheaper wide option after reportedly turning down the chance to bring Ronaldo back to Old Trafford.

United would be both filling a current need and looking to the future, with a reported £35.4m fee leaving space in the budget to address some other areas.

Chances of it happening: 7/10

N’GOLO KANTE

Marathon man: N’Golo Kante.

Luka Modric and Kylian Mbappe were the frontrunners for the World Cup’s Golden Ball – but if it were awarded on sheer importance to their countries, N’Golo Kante would have been in the running.

The tenacious and tireless midfielder has been outstanding for Les Bleus this summer, but his performances predictably go under the radar.

But it seems not everyone is unaware of his displays, with Barcelona believed to be trying to engineer a move after seeing Andres Iniesta head into retirement and Paulinho return to China.

A stunning swap deal could be on the cards with the Blaugrana preparing an offer of cash plus Andre Gomes to pry the 27-year-old from Stamford Bridge.

Chances of it happening: 6/10

 

HARRY MAGUIRE

Defensive powerhouse: Harry Maguire.

Everyone knew Harry was going to be important for England at this World Cup, but no-one would have predicted Maguire to outshine Kane.

The Spurs striker netted six goals to become the first England player in 32 years to win the World Cup’s Golden Boot – but it is the Leicester City centre-back who has been the bedrock of England’s surprising success.

Maguire was outstanding in Russia and capped a fine tournament with the crucial opening goal in the quarter-final win over Sweden.

The £17million fee the Foxes shelled out for him last summer from Hull City now seems a bargain, and with Man United reportedly circling with a £50m bid, the Foxes will be torn over tying him down to a new deal or cashing in.

Chances of it happening: 6/10

IVAN PERISIC

Found form in World Cup: Ivan Perisic.

After coming to life for Croatia in the knockout stages of the World Cup, talk of Perisic to Man United has been rekindled.

He had an understated opening to the tournament after shining once again for Inter Milan in Serie A last season, but came to life in the semi-final with the equalising goal against England.

He was again in the mix in the final with a stunning equaliser to make it 1-1.

Was said to be close to a move to Old Trafford a year ago only for the Nerazzuri to block it, which led to friction at the San Siro.

French media believe a deal is back on, but they appear more interested in what any move could mean for Anthony Martial’s future.

Chances of it happening: 7/10

MARCELO BROZOVIC

Ready for a move? Marcelo Brozovic.

The 25-year-old has been linked to Arsenal, Atletico Madrid, Sevilla and AC Milan over the summer – and their interest would not have waned whatsoever after a raft of stellar showings for the Vatreni.

His presence at the base of their midfield two in Zlatko Dalic’s 4-2-3-1 formation allowed Luka Modric’s creative genius to flow – with Dalic quickly bringing the Inter Milan man back into the fold after leaving him out as they struggled in the quarter-final against Russia, with Brozovic on the bench.

Brozovic is open to leaving the San Siro for the Premier League this summer, according to his agent, but any potential suitors would have to activate his release clause. An offer of €50 million would force the Italian giants to sell.

Chances of it happening: 6/10

SERGEJ MILINKOVIC-SAVIC

Hot prospect: Milinkovic-Savic.

The much-sought after midfielder showed flashes of talent in Russia, but Serbia’s elimination from the groups stages cut short our chances of seeing the Lazio man in full flow.

He remains one of the hottest prospects across Europe though, after a series of impressive displays in Serie A over the past couple of seasons, including an exceptional return of 14 goals and nine assists in 48 appearances across all competitions last term.

Real have been the one side making the initial overtures this summer, reportedly putting together a €135 million package, although Lazio will hold out for €150m.

Chances of it happening: 8/10

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Zlatko Dalic's brave Croatia win hearts but fall short of epic triumph after losing World Cup final

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Zlatko Dalic's Croatia won hearts if not the World Cup.

Zlatko Dalic and Croatia’s incredible World Cup journey came to an end on Sunday as they fell to France 4-2 in the final despite a heroic effort.

Despite the heartbreaking result, Dalic can hold his head high having led Croatia to their best-ever finish at a World Cup, and indeed he may even count his side unlucky to lose as they dominated the final.

Here’s a closer look at how Dalic and Croatia fared in the tournament showpiece.

KEY STATS

Goals – 2

Shots – 14

Shots on target – 4

Possession – 66%

Pass Accuracy – 83%

30-SECOND REPORT

Dalic went with the same lineup that had emerged triumphant in the semi-final against England, retaining Marcelo Brozovic as a defensive midfielder in order to free Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic from defensive duties.

It allowed Croatia to dominate possession, and in truth they are likely to wonder how they weren’t able to convert their dominance into more goals. Even allowing for France’s well-drilled defence, Croatia had their moments, but their shooting – just four of their 14 shots were on target – let them down.

TACTICAL TALKING POINT

Did Dalic err on the side of familiarity with his formation? The talking point after Croatia’s penalty shooutout win over Russia in the quarter-finals was that a 4-2-3-1 didn’t allow Modric to get forward enough, and the 4-1-4-1 is what earned this side their signature 3-0 win over Argentina in the group stages.

But Croatia were guaranteed to control possession almost by default, given France’s counter-attacking set-up. Playing Andrej Kramaric from the start in a 4-2-3-1 would have added some thrust up front.

VERDICT

Dalic and his players will go down as heroes even though they ended up losing in their first major shot at international glory. Indeed, they matched France in just about every aspect other than scoring goals, and even there, they’ll be entitled to wonder how they fell short. They’ll no doubt curse their luck – a debatable VAR penalty decision and an own goal accounted for two of France’s goals. But Dalic’s brave, determined Croatia won hearts all over the world.

RATING – 6/10

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Didier Deschamps makes history after leading France to World Cup glory as manager and player

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Deschamps joined select company by winning the World Cup as manager and player.

Didier Deschamps became the third person to win the World Cup as both player and manager as he led his France team to glory in Russia, with Les Bleus winning Sunday’s final 4-2 over Croatia.

It was a dramatic final that barely let the French manager exhale until the final whistle, but as that whistle rang, it brought a moment of history as the 49-year-old joined Franz Beckenbauer and Mario Zagallo as the only people to win the World Cup as both player and manager.

Here’s an analysis of how Deschamps fared on Sunday.

KEY STATS

Goals – 4

Shots – 7

Shots on target – 6

Possession – 34%

Pass Accuracy – 68%

30-SECOND REPORT

France lined up in a familiar 4-2-3-1, with the tactics they’d been using throughout the tournament – sitting deep, soaking up the pressure and ready to spring a counter. Indeed, Croatia were ideal opponents for Deschamps, who has made this France team content to let their opposition have the ball.

It was nonetheless a risky strategy and for the entire first half France weren’t in the game. Yet they led 2-1 at the end before running away with the game in the second period.

TACTICAL TALKING POINT

This was the rare game where N’Golo Kante’s impact was limited – he had fewer touches than anyone else in the first half – and it was to Deschamps’ credit that he acted swiftly in taking his ever-reliable midfielder off soon after the break.

That France scored twice so quickly after Steven N’Zonzi came on, both from surging runs in midfield, was telling. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say the game changed on that substitution.

VERDICT

Deschamps has been criticised for putting the handbrakes on this thrilling French team too much, but on Sunday he earned the ultimate vindication. His style has led Les Bleus to a second World Cup trophy, an accolade no one will ever take away from him.

That it added to his personal collection, having won the trophy as a player, only added to his reputation, and it’s safe to say no manager has emerged with his reputation more enhanced this summer.

RATING – 8/10

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