FIFA 2014

Emerging players who have lit up the World Cup

Enner Valencia has outshone his Ecuador namesake in Brazil.

Take a look at some of the emerging players who have lit up the World Cup in Brazil. One of the most remarkable stories of the World Cup Bosnia’s Muhamed Besic has impressed one and all and Enner Valencia has outshone his Ecuador namesake in Brazil.

Enner Valencia (Ecuador, 25): While everyone was expecting another Valencia, Manchester United’s Antonio, to provide the attacking impact for Ecuador it was the Mexico-based forward who proved the real problem for Group E defenders. The warning signs were already there before the tournament: not only had he enjoyed a magnificent first season with his Mexican side, Pachuca, but he also scored freely in the pre-Brazil friendlies. A tremendous athlete – exceptionally quick with an incredible leap – he scored all his country’s (three) goals in Brazil. Resembles a hybrid between Antonio Valencia and Faustino Asprilla (in their prime). Already attracting plenty of interest from European clubs.

Kostas Manolas (Greece, 23): Already on the shortlist of many high-profile clubs, the Greece centre-back has confirmed his status as one of the most wanted defenders outside the top-five European leagues, and his performances in Brazil have made the wider world – not only football insiders – aware of his potential. Apart from the disappointing opening fixture (losing 3-0 to Colombia), Manolas has appeared assured and confident enough to suggest that he is ready to slot into the heart of even a Premier League defence. With strong, commanding centre-backs few and far between, the young Olympiakos defender will not be short of suitors over the next few months.

Juan Carlos Paredes (Ecuador, 26): Right-back who has been one of the manager Reinaldo Rueda’s most trusted players during his tenure. Mainly confined to defensive duties in the last group game against France but even without the licence to break forward – as he did so well against Switzerland – Paredes showed excellent anticipation skills and took pressure off his defensive colleagues by almost deputising as a third centre-back after Antonio Valencia was sent off. An experienced and steady performer in the local Ecuadorian league who, at this point of his career, deserves a move to a bigger stage. Maybe not one for the big boys – recently linked to Watford.

Muhamed Besic (Bosnia and Herzegovina, 21): One of the most remarkable stories of the World Cup, the young Germany-born player was selected by the manager, Safet Susic, on the eve of the tournament after a near two-year absence from the national team (“punished” for missing an under-21 call-up). Rejected by Hamburg after only three first-team appearances as a centre-back, he was given a free transfer to the Hungarian side Ferencvaros in 2012. Brazil 2014 has proved to be some redemption for Besic; he excelled in his defensive-midfield role, keeping Lionel Messi quiet in the opening fixture and providing measured, composed performances throughout. Unlikely to stay in Hungary beyond this summer.

Charles Aranguiz (Chile, 25): While Arturo Vidal of Juventus and Barcelona’s Alexis Sanchez have grabbed the headlines, the energetic, creative and supremely versatile midfielder can rightfully claim a chapter in the Chile success story in Brazil. Already on the books of the Italian Serie A side Udinese – the club that introduced Sanchez and Mauricio Isla to European football – Aranguiz, who is able to play practically anywhere in midfield, has stood out with a wonderful blend of precise, high-tempo passing, stamina and combative spirit. Due to join Udinese from his successful half-year loan spell in Brazil in time for the start of the Serie A season. — © Guardian Newspapers Limited, 2014

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Printable version | Mar 31, 2020 10:59:46 PM |

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