5 players who may need new clubs to play in the 2018 World Cup
The 2018 FIFA World Cup is nine months away, as the qualifying rounds are in their final stages. 32 nations are set to compete for the trophy that the likes of Diego Maradona, Pelé, Lionel Messi and Gianluigi Buffon consider to the pinnacle of football.
It is every player's dream to honour his/her country by lifting the World Cup, but that is easier said than done. The preparation has to begin way before kickoff time in June, and players who to write their names in the history books must train hard throughout the whole season in the build-up for the competition.
However, in some cases, being at the wrong club could hinder one's gearing up. Whether a footballer is being played under conditions that do not optimize his potential to its fullest, or whether he was not gaining enough minutes to express his talent, in both cases, it is a major issue. Here are five players who have seen meagre game time and possibly need to move in January to ensure they get on the plane to Russia:
#5 - Mateo Kovacic
Mateo Kovacic is one of the most technically gifted players on the globe. In addition to that, he possesses an impeccable passing range. The young Croatian is never shy of carrying the ball forward, with his physicality, aggressiveness and dribbling technique often giving him the superiority over opponents.
The problem is that Real Madrid's midfield is packed with talents, and so is Croatia's. In his first season in Spain, where he spent the largest parts of it on the bench, Kovacic missed out on the chance to be a starter in the Eurocup 2016, and was dropped out of the lineup in favour of the likes of Milan Badelj, Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic. If he does not manage to improve his club-situation this time around, then the outcome could be similar in the World Cup.
To put things into perspective, the 23-year old has only started 19 Liga and 2 Champions League games last season, and finished his campaign with 2 goals and 3 assists, which is all in all far from enough to warrant him a place over his compatriots. Real Madrid have just added Marcos Llorente and Dani Cabellos who will only increase competition for the Croatian, who is currently on the sidelines because of an injury.
A loan move in January could perhaps be ideal for Mateo Kovacic, in order to optimize his chances of making it to Russia.