Reason why signing stars after a great World Cup performance isn't always best
The world just witnessed arguably the best World Cup ever. The tournament was unpredictable and exciting. This tournament made football fans love the overall sport more than their teams. They cheered for even the smallest of teams. That mindset pervaded the tournament.
It was an astonishing World Cup, a World Cup of firsts. First of all, who would have thought that Germany would be knocked out in the group stage? Then there’s Croatia, an under the radar team that reached the finals, then there’s that astonishing host team - Russia. Finally - France, a team with many young players lifting the trophy.
But the World Cup isn’t only about teams. It’s very much about the players. Established players like Lukaku, Hazard, and Kane shined, while young prospects impressed.
Make no mistake about it, a good World Cup performance garners attention from fans and club management. Fans urge managers to sign these players and players' careers can skyrocket as a result.
Now many clubs are planning to sign World Cup stars from this year's edition, some players also want to move into new teams for better roles.
Teams like Manchester United are looking for good midfielders like Ivan Perisic from Croatia, Paul Pogba reportedly wants to return to his old club Juventus, Chelsea is trying to bring in Aleksandr Golovin and Real Madrid is looking for an ideal replacement for Ronaldo and their primary target is Eden Hazard. They are also on the verge of bringing in Courtois after his stellar performance in the World Cup which earned him the Golden Glove.
But there’s a hitch - its not always a great idea to sign players after stellar World Cup performances. Yes, players like Mesut Ozil hit the ground running, but that doesn’t always happen, two such examples are firstly - Owen Hargreaves, after World Cup 2006 Manchester United signed him from Bayern Munich. Although he had an impressive debut campaign, he fell down the pecking order due to injuries and poor performances.
Secondly - Angel Di Maria moved to Old Trafford in 2014 from Madrid. The move provoked Real to sign one of the best performers from the 2014 World Cup - James Rodriguez, for a price of £71 million from AS Monaco. But Rodriguez failed to reproduce what he had done previously at the World Cup, and was loaned out after three seasons.
My take is that clubs need to manage risk. A great World Cup performance doesn’t automatically translate into sustained good play, and for the price clubs need to pay - they often get left holding the bag, paying way too much and not getting value in return.