The footballers looking for transfers during the World Cup

Gary Lineker (1986), Marcelo Salas (1998), Gilberto Silva (2002), Mesut Ozil (2010), and James Rodriguez (2014).

No, this isn’t a cross-generation and pretty unbalanced five-a-side outfit, but just a few of the players who earned major moves after starring on the grandest stage.

The World Cup has unearthed gem after gem over the years with the tournament functioning as the ultimate shop window. Typically played throughout the summer transfer window, clubs utilise the World Cup as a convenient scouting tool as they attempt to bolster their playing squad ahead of the new season.

Things will be a little bit different in 2022 given that, you know, the tournament’s being played in the winter and all, but the January transfer window will come around swiftly following the competition’s conclusion on 18 December.

Thus, several players will be using the World Cup as a means of potentially earning a move at the start of 2023. Here are a few that will be keen to impress potential suitors in Qatar.

Youri TielemansYouri Tielemans

Youri Tielemans’ contract at Leicester expires in the summer / Dean Mouhtaropoulos/GettyImages

Following a slow start to 2022/23 Youri Tielemans has shown signs of returning to his best form ahead of the World Cup. The midfielder’s rediscovery of his finest self was best exemplified by his outrageous strike against Everton on Bonfire Night.

Tielemans’ return to form is a timely one considering Roberto Martinez will be leaning on his vastly experienced midfield to spearhead Belgium’s World Cup campaign.

The Leicester man will play a huge role for the Red Devils and there’s no doubt that a whole host of clubs will be keeping an eye on him given his situation at Leicester. While the Foxes are hopeful that Tielemans signs a contract extension, the midfielder deserves a big move away and he could be available on a free transfer next summer.

Cristiano RonaldoCristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo will be on the lookout for a new club after the tournament / Soccrates Images/GettyImages

Apparently, there was something about an interview? Anyone heard anything about it? Piers Morgan certainly hasn’t done a good enough job of promoting it, that’s for sure!

If you hadn’t grasped the sarcasm, shame on you.

Ronaldo’s “explosive” discussion with Morgan has all but ended his Manchester United career and he’ll surely be moving on in January. However, he was keen to depart in the summer but a lack of interested clubs meant he remained at Old Trafford.

A big World Cup with hopefuls Portugal may convince a couple of clubs to take a big financial risk and acquire Ronaldo in 2023.


Jonathan David will lead Canada’s line in Qatar / GEOFF ROBINS/GettyImages

Jonathan David and Alphonso Davies are the two budding stars of second-timers Canada. They’ve garnered plenty of hype heading into the tournament and John Herdman will be leaning on David in the final third.

The Canadian striker is quickly developing into one of Europe’s finest. After scoring 28 goals over the past two Ligue 1 seasons with Lille, David has scored nine times in 15 games to begin 2022/23.

The 22-year-old will enter the World Cup in fine fettle and a big move is certainly on the horizon no matter his or Canada’s performance in Qatar. A strong showing will undoubtedly hasten David’s rise, however.

Lovro MajerLovro Majer

Watch out for Lovro Majer / James Williamson – AMA/GettyImages

Croatia are still clinging on to some of their contemporary greats. Players like Luka Modric and Ivan Perisic will once again play big roles, but Zlatko Dalic also has some exciting fresh blood to call upon.

Lovro Majer will play in his first major tournament this winter after he was named in Dalic’s 26-man squad. The hairband-donning Croat, who could easily be mistaken for a younger iteration of Modric from afar, is now plying his trade with Rennes in France and poised to enjoy a breakout tournament.

Named in L’Equipe’s Ligue 1 Team of the Season following a stellar debut campaign with Rennes, the creative Majer is one to keep an eye on at the World Cup. Expect him to have a big impact off the bench.

Hakim ZiyechHakim Ziyech

Hakim Ziyech is back in international action / Fran Santiago/GettyImages

Hakim Ziyech bagged that postage stamp of a strike against Tottenham earlier this year and seemingly disappeared off the face of the earth.

The winger has barely featured for Chelsea this season and he’ll surely be heading through the exit door soon.

After retiring from international football seven months ago, a managerial change has seen Ziyech return to the fold where he’ll operate as one of the stars in a sneaky-good Morocco side.

Could this tournament rejuvenate the winger’s stagnating career?

Christian PulisicChristian Pulisic

Expectations are high for Christian Pulisic / Brad Smith/ISI Photos/GettyImages

Worshipped as the Second Coming of Christ in his homeland, expectations are sky-high for Christian Pulisic as the USA attempt to upset a few in Qatar.

However, the Pulisic that evolved into Lionel Messi during that weird lockdown period of Premier League football is a distant memory. The American is now a bit-part player for the Blues and a move away seems best for all parties.

The exuberant winger is certainly gifted and will have his fair share of suitors if Chelsea do put him up for sale. An impressive tournament with the unfancied USMNT will aid the Blues’ ability to get Pulisic off their books.

UEFA Nations League - League Path Group 4UEFA Nations League - League Path Group 4

Cody Gakpo has enjoyed a brilliant start to his international career / ANP/GettyImages

Every Premier League club seemingly thought about signing PSV skipper Cody Gakpo in the summer, but the Dutchman remained in Eindhoven.

Gakpo’s departure is inevitable next year, but where he ends up is a mystery.

What is certain is that the versatile forward will play a prominent role for Louis van Gaal’s side at the World Cup. Gakpo has three goals in nine caps for the national team and will line up in Van Gaal’s fluid front three in Qatar.

The 23-year-old has thrived for the Netherlands during the primitive stages of his international career. Just how well he performs over the next month could determine the calibre of clubs that are in for him next year.

Ousmane DembeleOusmane Dembele

Ousmane Dembele was named in Didier Deschamps’ 26-man France squad / Catherine Steenkeste/GettyImages

There might not be a more iconic duo than Ousmane Dembele and contract sagas. The enigmatic Frenchman simply cannot get enough of them!

Dembele is a magisterial talent who may not play too much for Didier Deschamps’ France at the World Cup, but the tournament is nonetheless a great opportunity for the winger to showcase his majesty to the world if he does earn some minutes.

The winger is tied down with Barcelona until 2024 but the Catalans want to extend his contract by a further two years.

An impressive World Cup with France could throw a spanner in the works and tempt clubs into pursuing Dembele in 2023.

Joao FelixJoao Felix

Joao Felix may be a starter for Portugal in Qatar / Quality Sport Images/GettyImages

Fernando Santos’ loyalty towards Cristiano Ronaldo could limit Joao Felix’s game time at the World Cup and it’s ironic that Manchester United have been linked with the Atletico Madrid outcast to potentially replace the wantaway veteran.

Felix has got to get out of Atleti soon. It’s criminal that he only plays sporadically for Diego Simeone’s side given his talent. The forward notched 24 La Liga goal contributions during his second and third two seasons at the club despite only making 27 starts and has started 2022/23 with six goal contributions in 12 league games (six starts).

Felix remains a mega talent and Santos simply has to utilise the multi-faceted playmaker-cum-goalscorer if Portugal are to enjoy a deep run in Qatar.

It’s about time the world was reminded about just how good the 23-year-old is.


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