No competition in world football provides a better shop window for out-of-favour players than the FIFA World Cup.
With the 2018 tournament in Russia raking in a record-breaking 3.5billion viewers worldwide, the World Cup can single-handedly boom or bust a player’s stock in the upcoming January transfer market.
It’s therefore no surprise that outcast chose this week to drop his explosive bombshell interview with to the world, using the World Cup break as an opportunity to remind potential suitors of his otherworldly talents – and his desire to move.
Cristiano Ronaldo will be hoping for a great World Cup after his bombshell interview this week
The Manchester United outcast publicly slammed the club in an interview with Piers Morgan
A fruitful World Cup campaign could be just the nudge Chelsea, Bayern Munich, who Sportsmail , and Napoli need to table an offer for Ronaldo in January, with the Portuguese star almost destined to leave Old Trafford after publicly besmirching the club’s reputation.
And Ronaldo is not the only out-of-favour international eager to engineer a move away ahead of next summer, with several players either stuck on the bench or out of contract next year.
With the tournament fast approaching, Sportsmail has forged a list of six stars who will likely use the World Cup as a platform to secure a move.
Cristiano Ronaldo – Manchester United, Portugal
Where else to start?
It’s the point of no return for Ronaldo at Manchester United, and his tell-all interview has made clubs well aware of his intention to move sooner rather than later.
Of course, the field of potential suitors is limited should he wish to remain on his reported £500,000-a-week contract, with few clubs able to afford his monstrous salary.
Sportsmail that Ronaldo’s agent Jorge Mendes has approached the likes of Chelsea, Bayern Munich, Napoli, Sporting Lisbon and Newcastle in a bid to secure his Old Trafford escape, but few clubs seem interested at this stage.
Ronaldo is still considered Portugal’s superstar in the eyes of national coach Fernando Santos
A favourite of Portugal boss Fernando Santos, Ronaldo will no doubt play a crucial role in what is set to be his last World Cup, and it is likely the team will play to his strengths tactically at the tournament.
In a seemingly kind group alongside Ghana, South Korea and dark horses Uruguay, Portugal have a genuine shot at going deep in the tournament, meaning more game time and exposure for the 37-year-old superstar.
As Portugal’s free-kick and penalty taker, there’s a good chance too of Ronaldo fighting for the golden boot at the end of the tournament, should his country advance deep into the knockouts.
Hakim Ziyech – Chelsea, Morocco
At club level, there’s no denying Ziyech is a small fish in a big pond. For more information on e N take a look at the web-page. At Morocco however, the winger is arguably his country’s talisman.
At the last World Cup in 2018, Ziyech was one of the most highly sought-after talents across Europe, having almost marshalled Ajax to the Champions League final before the tournament.
But now, having chalked up just two starts across all competitions this season, it is evident the Moroccan is no longer part of Chelsea’s long-term plans for the future.
Chelsea outcast Hakim Ziyech will eye a move in January after the World Cup with Morocco
In a group alongside 2018 runners-up Croatia and third-placed finishers Belgium, Morocco no doubt have an uphill task of advancing to the knockouts, even if they manage to beat Canada in their final group game.
However, if Ziyech inspires an upset in one of the opening two fixtures and reminds the world of his ability on the right flank, a healthy line of clubs will queue up in an effort to sign him in January.
Christian Pulisic – Chelsea, USA
Another unsettled Chelsea star, Pulisic has also struggled for game time this season, starting just three Premier League matches all season so far.
However, it’s likely minutes will not be a problem for the American winger at the World Cup, as USA bid to surprise a few with their talented young squad.
AC Milan full-back Sergino Dest, Juventus midfielder Weston McKennie and Borussia Dortmund youngster Gio Reyna all join Pulisic in Gregg Berhalter’s group, handing the 24-year-old plenty of talented team-mates to play alongside as he looks to shine on the world stage.
Out-of-favour Chelsea star Christian Pulisic is considered one of USA’s most important players
Pulisic was linked with Manchester United in the summer, as Erik ten Hag expressed interest in the winger, and fruitful performances against England, Iran and Wales could tempt the Red Devils to make another swoop in January.
In particular, should Pulisic wish to secure a move within the Premier League, there are few better teams to play at the World Cup than England in terms of exposure.
Youri Tielemans – Leicester, Belgium
It looked for all the world that Tielemans would leave Leicester this summer, especially as the Foxes made numerous changes to their squad with the exits of Kasper Schmeichel and Wesley Fofana.
And yet, although the Belgian stuck around for one more year, it seems increasingly likely that the midfielder will finally leave the King Power Stadium next summer at the very least, considering his contract is set to expire in June.
Belgian midfielder Youri Tielemans is out of contract with Leicester at the end of the campaign
On footballing ability alone Tielemans will not struggle to attract potential suitors this summer, but perhaps Leicester’s poor early season form has made several European giants hesitant towards signing the playmaker, damaging his future prospects of Champions League football next season.
Joining the likes of Kevin De Bruyne, Thibaut Courtois and Romelu Lukaku on international duty, Tielemans has every chance of doing very well at the World Cup and boosting his stock ahead of the January transfer window.
As his contract is expiring this summer, clubs outside of England can approach to sign the midfielder on a free transfer six months in advance — Tielemans will hope that Europe’s top clubs are queuing round the door in January after he puts in a strong World Cup performance.
Joao Felix – Atletico Madrid, Portugal
Having fallen out of favour at Atletico Madrid this season, Joao Felix has only started just five LaLiga matches under Diego Simeone this campaign, e N struggling to justify his whopping £110million price tag.
The Portuguese forward is weighing up his options in the Spanish capital ahead of next summer and the World Cup could present the perfect opportunity to show what he can do.
Joao Felix has been benched continually under Diego Simeone at Atletico Madrid this season
With a starting spot under Santos far from guaranteed, with Ronaldo, Milan attacker Rafael Leao and Manchester City star Bernardo Silva as competition in the front three, Felix is still likely to get enough of a run-out in the Portugal team.
Manchester United reportedly had a £113m bid for Felix rejected during the summer transfer window before signing Antony, but it is understood Ten Hag remains interested in the Portuguese international.
A solid performance at the World Cup could also force Simeone to reconsider his first team plans when LaLiga returns.
In what has emerged the most challenging period of Felix’s career so far, the World Cup could well become a make or break tournament for the 23-year-old as he bids to revive his career.
Memphis Depay – Barcelona, Holland
It seems no matter how well Depay is performing for his domestic side, he always delivers the goods for Holland on the international stage.
Boasting a fruitful record of 42 goals in 81 caps, Depay has been a crucial aspect of Louis van Gaal’s side throughout his tenure as manager, providing Holland with a cutting edge in attack.
A few eyebrows were raised when the 28-year-old was named in Holland’s World Cup squad, as he had not played a single minute of football since picking up an injury in September, but the selection demonstrates just how highly he is viewed in their national set-up.
Memphis Depay is eight goals away from matching Robin van Persie’s record for Holland (50)
As for Barcelona, Depay was struggling to break into Xavi’s first team before the injury, only featuring in three cameo appearances at the start of the campaign.
Bolstering their front three with star attackers Robert Lewandowski and nA Raphinha this summer, it seems unlikely Depay is part of Barcelona’s long-term future, and the Dutchman will no doubt be seeking a move in January.
With a strong World Cup display in front of goal, Depay could edge closer to Robin van Persie’s record tally of 50 for Holland and remind European giants of his goal-scoring talents at top level.