January transfer window: 10 players whose values soared at the World Cup | World Cup 2022

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Alexis Mac Allister, Argentina

Brighton are in a good position, having extended Alexis Mac Allister’s contract until 2025 before the World Cup started, but clubs in the Champions League will come knocking. Mac Allister was essential to Argentina’s success at the World Cup, playing in all six of the games they won, scoring the opening goal against Poland and setting up Ángel Di María to score a sensational breakaway goal in the final. But it was his hard work in midfield that really stood out. He made nine tackles, three interceptions and blocked more passes than any other player (12). In addition, he completed 89% of his passes, showing the all-round nature of his performances. Brighton signed Mac Allister for £7m in 2019. If they choose to sell him, they will get a lot more than that.

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Sofyan Amrabat, Morocco

Morocco’s run to the semi-finals was not glamorous, but it was effective. Discipline and effort were key to the way Walid Regragui played, and no player embodied those values more than Fiorentina’s defensive midfielder Sofyan Amrabat. He was linked with a move to Tottenham last year and would solidify any number of teams. Only three other players, one being his compatriot Achraf Hakimi, made more tackles than his total of 16 at the World Cup. His tireless efforts on and off the ball made Morocco tick and ensured they only conceded five goals in the entire tournament.

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Azzedine Ounahi, Morocco

It is nigh-on impossible to get close to Azzedine Ounahi. He was only dribbled past twice during the World Cup and he was dispossessed just seven times, underling how good he is at holding on to the ball. He is also brilliant with the ball at his feet, driving his team up the field and creating opportunities for counterattacks. The 22-year-old, who is currently at French side Angers, is in line for a big move.

Andries Noppert, Netherlands

At 28, Andries Noppert still has time to secure a high-profile move, which looked extremely unlikely two years ago. He was playing in the Dutch second tier and was contemplating a career switch, but an injury crisis at Go Ahead Eagles meant he was finally given an opportunity. Noppert grabbed his chance and earned a move to Heerenveen and a call-up to the Netherlands squad. The big keeper, who stands at 6ft 8in, won his first cap at the World Cup to complete a remarkable journey. He made 18 saves and kept two clean sheets in his five appearances at the tournament.

Dominik Livakovic, Croatia

It was no surprise Emiliano Martínez won the Golden Glove given the number of important saves he produced in games and penalty shootouts. However, it would have made just as much sense to give the accolade to Dominik Livakovic. The Croatia keeper was immense, making more saves (24) than any other keeper at the tournament – including 11 against Brazil, the most by a goalkeeper in a single game. He also saved four penalties to help maintain his country’s 100% record in shootouts. Tournaments are perfect opportunities for goalkeepers to showcase their talent and, if any club is looking for a serial shotstopper, then Livakovic – whose save success rate was an impressive 80.6% – is their man.

Mehdi Taremi, Iran

Mehdi Taremi turned 30 in July, but he is a late bloomer. The Iran striker was picked up by Portuguese club Rio Ave three years ago and he quickly impressed, scoring 21 goals in 37 games to earn a move to Porto. He has continued to sparkle there, adding another 63 goals in 117 appearances, and he used the World Cup to thrust himself into the spotlight. His reputation has soared given his fine performances in the group stage in Qatar, where he scored twice, registered one assist and made nine key passes – a sum that only eight players could better in the entire tournament. Chelsea fans may also remember Taremi for the spectacular bicycle-kick that won the Champions League goal of the season award in 2020-21. Age is not on his side, but Taremi has the talent for one more big move.

Mehdi Taremi scores for Iran against England.
Mehdi Taremi scores for Iran against England. Photograph: Hannah McKay/Reuters

Randal Kolo Muani

Randal Kolo Muani only played 181 minutes at the World Cup but the fact he was included in the France squad after Christopher Nkunku’s injury demonstrates the talent he possesses. That he scored the third quickest goal by a substitute in World Cup history, and won a penalty in the final, isn’t bad either. Interested parties should also look at his impact for Eintracht Frankfurt this season: in 14 league appearances, he has scored five goals and registered more assists (nine) than any other player in the Bundesliga.

Gonçalo Ramos

Replacing one of the best players in the history of the game while making your first start for your country, at a World Cup no less, would be a daunting task for most footballers, but not Gonçalo Ramos. The 21-year-old took Cristiano Ronaldo’s place for Portugal in their last-16 tie against Switzerland and grabbed the opportunity with both hands, scoring three in the space of 50 minutes – the youngest player to score a hat-trick at a World Cup since 1962. It was not a one-off. Ramos has scored nine goals in 11 league games for Benfica this season. He has plenty of time to develop and his next move could be crucial for his career.

Sergiño Dest

Sergiño Dest has found first-team football hard to come by recently, making just five appearances for Milan in Serie A this season. The 21-year-old had a better experience at the World Cup, helping USA reach the last 16 and showcasing his effectiveness as a full-back. Dest is an attacking, energetic right-back. He had more successful dribbles than any of his teammates and only one USA player took more shots. He can look shaky when defending, but a top coach would develop that part of his game.

Mohammed Kudus

Mohammed Kudus’s quality has been well known for a while, with Everton rumoured to be close to a deal for him in the summer. The move fell through but he has continued to shine at Ajax, with four goals and two assists in the Champions League this season. The World Cup gave Kudus a springboard to showcase his talent to a wider audience and, even though Ghana crashed out in the group stage, he still stood out. He was a constant threat to opponents and he scored twice in three games.



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