Players who have illuminated the World Cup at various intervals but who do not grace the self-styled ‘Best League in the World, the all-singin’, all-dancin’ Premier League.
Sky Sports will launch a new channel dedicated to European football next month and those shrewdies are onto a winner.
It has been a World Cup in which the Premier League creme de la creme have largely flattered to deceive, regardless of the odd goalscoring contribution as expressed by Andre Schurrle and Mesut Ozil on Monday evening, with the latter’s goal against the Algerians glossing over a pretty poor display for Germany.
Among those to flounder in the group stages were Romelu Lukaku and Sergio Aguero.
Edin Dzeko and David Silva did not have the best of times either – along with the latter’s Spanish team-mates – while it was also one to forget for the likes of Nani and most of the England team.
Although that seems to be obligatory. Perhaps the one big winner from the group stages was Arsenal’s Joel Campbell, deemed so good by Arsene Wenger that he was sent out on loan to Olympiakos last season.
A mention in dispatches too for Newcastle and France full-back Mathieu Debuchy and Aston Villa’s Dutch defender Ron Vlaar. Not forgetting Chile’s Gary Medel. Relegated with Cardiff, but a class act at Chile. And then there is Costa Rica’s Bryan Ruiz – farmed out by Fulham on loan to PSV Eindhoven in January, although goodness knows why given his showings in the World Cup so far.
But not much to write home about out of a total of 110 players contracted to top-flight clubs in the final 23-man squads of the 32 competing nations, with the main men not coming to the party.
Included in that are the majority of the club with the biggest World Cup contingent at 17 of Chelsea, with two who didn’t play for them last season in Thibaut Courtois and Kenneth Omeruo having probably had the best of it so far. While David Luiz, Oscar, Ramires and Willian’s journey continues with Brazil, they have yet truly to excel.
It’s been those unheralded players who largely hide their talents under a bushel in European leagues who are having their moment – and expect a fair few of them to grab their place in the big time.
Most probably in the Premier League, proficient at cherry picking ‘flavour of the month’ players from World Cup and European Championships and then whining when the yield isn’t up to much. Karel Poborsky, Daniel Amokachi, El-Hadji Diouf and Papa Bouba Diop anyone?