World Cup shop window: One from each nation out to impress

Ian Watson

Group A

Saudi Arabia: Fahad Al-Muwallad (Al-Ittihad)
“He is the Cristiano or Messi of Saudi Arabia,” it was said before his loan move from Al-Ittihad to Levante. But 26 minutes in total didn’t offer him the platform the World Cup might.

Egypt: Mahmoud Hasan (Kasimpasa)
Trezeguet, as he is known because of the supposed likeness to the former France striker, has been linked with Leicester to replace Riyad Mahrez. Galatasaray are also sniffing around the Kasimpasa midfielder.

Russia: Aleksandr Golovin (CSKA Moscow)
The versatile, industrious midfielder has been linked with Arsenal and Chelsea among others, and the hosts’ key man is ready to sample life away from CSKA despite being only 21.

Uruguay: Giorgian De Arrascaeta (Cruzeiro)
The attacking midfielder, 23, who will provide the ammunition for Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani, has already caught the attention of European clubs including Monaco and Wolves with his performances for Cruzeiro.

Group B

Iran: Alireza Jahanbakhsh (AZ Alkmaar)
The winger has his feet firmly under the table at AZ Alkmaar, where he became the first Asian player to win the Eredivisie golden boot with 21 goals last season. Napoli were credited with an interest in the 24-year-old.

Morocco: Amine Harit (Schalke)
The 20-year-old French-born midfielder has it pretty good at Schalke right now, having broken into the first-team and won the Bundesliga Rookie of the Year award in his first season in Germany. He described his style of play as “provocative” and big clubs certainly might be tempted by some impressive performances, especially against Spain and Portugal.

Portugal: William Carvalho (Sporting Lisbon)
If the powerhouse midfielder hasn’t already signed for Everton before the tournament starts, then the 26-year-old will be gasping to catch the eye in Russia. Carvalho, like many of his team-mates, is desperate to leave Sporting Lisbon and it’s about time we all got to see whether he can cut it outside Portugal.

Spain: Alvaro Odriozola (Real Sociedad)
The right-back has emerged as one of Spain’s brightest young talents, with Real Madrid already heavily linked with the 22-year-old, who looks set to start the tournament with Dani Carvajal still nursing the hamstring injury he sustained in the Champions League final.


Group C

Australia: Daniel Arzani (Melbourne City)
There is a huge buzz Down Under around the 19-year-old attacker, who will be youngest player in the tournament. Arzani plays for Melbourne City, so anyone who wants to take a punt on the Iranian-born teenager will have to get behind Man City in the queue.

Denmark: Pione Sisto (Celta Vigo)
The powerful winger has two seasons at Celta Vigo under his belt, and five goals and nine assists to his name last season. Southampton are said to be among the clubs tracking the 23-year-old, who is likely to be available for around £15million.

France: Thomas Lemar (Monaco)
Liverpool and Arsenal have been chasing the Monaco star for some time, while Barcelona and Atletico Madrid are also said to be extremely keen. The 22-year-old probable starter will have his pick of clubs with an impressive showing in Russia.

Peru: Miguel Araujo (Alianza Lima)
“Alianza know the idea is to look for an overseas option,” said the 23-year-old central defender’s agent. Lazio were among the clubs to take note when Araujo shackled Lionel Messi in a World Cup qualifier last October.


Group D

Argentina: Cristian Pavon (Boca Juniors)
The 22-year-old winger was linked with Arsenal back in January and his chances of seeing some action in Russia were enhanced by Manuel Lanzini’s knee injury this week. Seven goals and 17 assists for Boca Juniors last season also impressed Lionel Messi so much that the Argentina star is said to have recommended his compatriot to Barcelona.

Croatia: Mateo Kovacic (Real Madrid)
“Whether in Real or somewhere else, now is the time for me to play,” said the midfielder this week. Both Manchester clubs are known to have been monitoring the 24-year-old’s predicament after starting just 10 La Liga games last season.

Iceland: Hordur Bjorgvin Magnusson (Bristol City)
The versatile defender who features most prominently at left-back for the national team scored the all-important goal in qualifying against Croatia. Tottenham and Everton are known to have previously watched the 25-year-old.

Nigeria: Odion Ighalo (Changchun Yatai)
The former Watford centre-forward is said to be open to offers in Europe again after a year picking up a fortune in China. Two Premier League clubs were said to have been sniffing around the 26-year-old in January and goals in Russia would surely prompt greater interest from chairman willing to pay his £20million release clause.


Group E

Brazil: Alisson (Roma)
Most of the Brazil XI are firmly rooted at their clubs, but ‘the Messi of goalkeeping’ has been linked with a move away from Roma for almost a year. Liverpool and Real Madrid are credited with the most serious interest, though Alisson will be keen to show in Russia that he is worth the huge fee Roma will command, and that he deserves his place ahead of Manchester City’s Ederson.

Costa Rica: Keylor Navas (Real Madrid)
With Alisson linked with Navas’s job at Real Madrid, the 31-year-old may well be looking for a new goal to guard for next season. Likely to have plenty of opportunities to catch the eye.

Serbia: Sergej Milinković-Savić (Lazio)
The Lazio star is one of the most complete midfielders in Europe, combining physical presence with sublime technique, so obviously the big hitters are taking notice. The 23-year-old’s value is already heading towards the £100million mark and Lazio will be hoping an impressive World Cup will see that price rise.

Switzerland: Xherdan Shaqiri (Stoke)
Looking for a new club after Stoke were relegated and his release clause makes the attacker an attractive option for almost anyone. The tournament is a fantastic opportunity for the ‘Alpine Messi’ to remind everyone beyond the Premier League what he can do.


Group F

Germany: Timo Werner (RB Leipzig)
The 22-year-old is likely to be the holders’ first-choice centre-forward, which offers him ample opportunity to enhance his reputation as one of Europe’s hottest properties. “To become a world-class player, I’ll probably have to play in an even better team at club level,” he admitted before travelling to Russia.

Mexico: Hirving Lozano (PSV Eindhoven)
After two years in the Eredivisie, where the 22-year-old scored 17 goals in 29 games last season, many believe Lozano is ripe to be picked by a Premier League club. With former PSV chief Marcel Brands now pulling the strings at Everton, reports suggest the Mexican could follow him to Goodison Park.

South Korea: Ki Sung-yueng (Swansea)
The South Korea captain is out of contract at relegated Swansea and though his performances towards the end of the season earned him a spot in our worst Premier League players at the World Cup, an impressive showing in the heart of midfield will enhance his options considerably.

Sweden: Viktor Claesson (Krasnodar)
The versatile midfielder has impressed in the Russian Premier League since moving in January 2017 so the 26-year-old is on familiar ground. Claesson, who could be available for £8million, was linked with Swansea and Bundesliga sides Werder Bremen and Eintracht Frankfurt. Som impressive showings on the right of Sweden’s midfield can only lengthen his list of suitors.


Group G

Belgium: Marouane Fellaini (Manchester United)
The big midfielder certainly has options now his contract at Old Trafford is up, but waiting until after the World Cup to decide his next club is a smart move from the 30-year-old. Unless he has absolute stinker in Russia, which is not beyond the realms of possibility…

England: Danny Rose (Tottenham)
The left-back was being linked with Manchester United for £50million before a wretched season that featured only nine Premier League starts set back his progress considerably. But Rose is ready to push on again and Russia offers the platform to prove himself to Mauricio Pochettino or anyone else.

Panama: Michael Amir Murillo (New York Red Bulls)
A versatile defender impressing in MLS with NYRB, Murillo is attracting attention from Europe as an attack-minded right-back who can also play in the heart of defence. The 22-year-old was voted on to the Concacaf Champions League team of the season.

Tunisia: Wahbi Khazri (Sunderland)
Escaped the Stadium of Light last season and his relief showed in his impressive performances on loan at Rennes. Roma and Monaco have been linked with the 27-year-old, who will lead his nation’s attack while the Black Cats hope their asset, with two years remaining on his contract, enhances his value in Russia.


Group H

Colombia: Mateus Uribe (Club America)
The midfielder’s fine form in Mexico has alerted Sevilla and Southampton while Real Madrid were also credited with an interest in the 27-year-old deep-lying passer.

Japan: Naomichi Ueda (Kashima Antlers)
The 23-year-old centre-half has plenty of J-League experience but only three caps following his debut at the end of last year. Ueda, a 6’1″ former taekwondo champion, certainly has the physical presence to compete in bigger leagues.

Poland: Piotr Zielinski (Napoli)
‘The new Kevin De Bruyne’, according to Maurizio Sarri, is comfortable at Napoli but the 24-year-old prospect is attracting the interest of Europe’s most prestigious clubs and biggest spenders. Liverpool had an £11.5million bid rejected by Udinese in 2016. Anyone wanting Zielinski now will have to pay at least five times that figure.

Senegal: Ismaila Sarr (Rennes)
The 20-year-old graduated from the same academy in Senegal as Sadio Mane and that isn’t where the similarities between the attackers stop. Sarr claims he had an offer from Barcelona last year “but leaving Metz to join them was too early”. A year later, in which time he’s netted five goals and five assists, Rennes could make a quick profit on their £15million investment.