The World Cup is the biggest marketplace in football. Perform well in front of a global audience and chances are that Europe’s leading clubs will soon come calling. With the transfer window opening in January, some of the youngsters have helped themselves with an impressive show. Let's take a look...
Goncalo Ramos, Portugal
Arguably no player made more of a spectacular impact at the WC than Ramos. As a surprise replacement for Ronaldo in Portugal’s lineup against Switzerland in a round of 16, he went on to score a hat trick. The 21-year-old Benfica forward has earned admirers after scoring 14 goals for his club before heading off to Qatar. After producing a performance like that on the biggest stage, his stock will have risen even higher.
Josko Gvardiol, Croatia
The addition of a protective mask, following a pre-tournament facial injury, made Gvardiol an even more daunting sight for the opposition. The 20-year-old Croatian put up standout performances against Belgium & Brazil. The RB Leipzig defender has already been linked with a number of top European clubs and it feels like a matter of time before the big move. An abiding memory of his WC might be when he was turned inside out by Lionel Messi in the buildup to Argentina’s third goal in the 3-0 win against Croatia.
Jude Bellingham, England
Bellingham was already expected to be one of the most sought-after players in Europe, with Manchester United, Man City, Liverpool and Paris Saint-Germain among his admirers. His club, Borussia Dortmund, is renowned for selling its star players and Bellingham, 19, is next in line. He lived up to all the hype in Qatar with standout performances for England. The only question now appears to be just how much money it will take to win the race for the teenager.
Cody Gakpo, Netherlands
PSV Eindhoven forward Gakpo was already on Manchester United’s radar and that interest could be renewed in January after Ronaldo’s exit. His three goals in the group stage highlighted his potential to be a prolific striker, which is precisely what United coach Erik ten Hag wants to add to his team. Gakpo is a very modern forward, who can operate in wide positions or more centrally, which will appeal to a lot of clubs. “Things can change, but Cody has everything it takes to become a star,” said Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal.
Azz-Eddine Ounahi, Morocco
Midfielder, Ounahi, certainly made an impression on former Spain coach Luis Enrique. “He can really play,” Enrique said after Morocco beat Spain on penalties in the round of 16. “He didn’t stop running, he must be exhausted.” Ounahi, 22, is technically gifted on the ball and appears to have boundless energy to get around the field. He looks like a complete midfielder. Currently playing for the bottom-placed team in the French first division, Angers, he could be one of the big movers after the World Cup.