World Cup 2018: Ideal Clubs for the Tournament’s Most Impressive Young Players
Mesut Ozil, Sami Khedira, Gilberto Silva. Denilson, El Hadji Diouf, Kleberson. Spot a pattern? All of these players were big-money signings after they excelled in a World Cup. While the first trio continued their World Cup form for their new clubs, the latter group were expensive flops (even Sir Alex Ferguson made mistakes).
Despite no team having played more than two games, there have been several players whose transfer fees have increased significantly due to their performances. The likes of Denis Cheryshev and Hirving Lozano have impressed in such a manner that they have already been linked with several of Europe’s top clubs.
Often it is not the quality or the effort of a player that determines their success at their new clubs but rather their fit with the club. Take the example of James Rodriguez, an excellent player who never fit in Real Madrid’s system.
Madrid’s typical (in 2014) 4-3-3 didn’t fit the Colombian and by the time they switched to a 4-3-1-2, Rodriguez was competing with an excellent player in Isco. While Rodriguez has since flourished after a loan move to Bayern Munich, it goes to show how important fit (tactical and philosophical) is when it comes to signing players.
So what are the ideal clubs for some of the World Cup’s breakout stars?
#7 Hirving Lozano- Juventus
The fact that Hirving Lozano has impressed for Mexico is no real surprise. Several writers (including yours truly) expected the PSV Eindhoven winger to continue his world-beating Eredivisie form in the World Cup.
Nonetheless, Lozano’s play in El Tri’s opening game against defending champions Germany was better than any of his biggest fans could have expected. Lozano scored the winner, but his impact was so much more than that.
The 22-year-old was a constant nuisance for the rather tired German defence, as his intelligent running, creative passing and effective link-up play with Javier Hernandez tore up the German defence on multiple occasions. The Mexican’s statistics were excellent as he made three key passes in only 66 minutes (tied for 6th among players in their first game).
Lozano was also great with the ball at his feet as he made four dribbles in the opening game. For a winger, Lozano also had an absurdly great pass success percentage of 91.6%. Lozano was taken off after 66 minutes, as Mexico manager Juan Carlos Osorio made defensive changes.
Yet, Lozano’s statistics suggest that he need not have made such a substitution, as the 22-year-old made three tackles and two interceptions- incredible numbers for an attacking winger. While it was only for one game, such a performance against the World Champions suggest an irresistible talent.
Lozano is no one-game wonder, as he was among the best players in the Eredivisie last season. Lozano scored 17 goals and made eight assists in the league last season, as he terrorized defences around the Netherlands. His underlying statistics were also impressive as he averaged 2.4 crosses per game, 2.6 key passes per game and 2.1 dribbles per game.
Such performances had made Lozano a transfer target for several European giants even before the World Cup. Since the game against Germany, this speculation has only increased. In fact, his father has already claimed that there has been an approach by Barcelona. While the Blaugrana would be an interesting fit for the Mexican, perhaps Juventus would be a better fit.
Since switching to a 4-2-3-1, manager Massimiliano Allegri has struggled to find an option on the right-wing as he has alternated between Juan Cuadrado and Federico Bernardeschi. Lozano would be the perfect fit for the Old Lady as he could capitalize on Paulo Dybala’s through balls while providing crosses to Gonzalo Higuaín.