The World Cup is so close we can nearly taste it. And for these five players, they can almost taste a big transfer. But they need to show-out on the world stage first. Here’s a list of players who can improve their value in the transfer market this month.
5. Ki Sung-yueng, South Korea (Swansea City)
Ki’s contract at Swansea comes to an end June 30. The former Celtic and Sunderland central midfielder will turn 30 next season. It’s now or never for Ki to chase one last big payday.
Ki bagged two goals in 25 League matches in 2017-18. According to his Transfermarkt, he’s valued at $8.4 million. That’s considerably cheaper than Jake Livermore who is a year younger but sits at nearly $11 million and seems to be on his way out at West Bromwich Albion.
Using Livermore as a comparison, Ki is worth the value. Understat lists Ki’s expected goals at nearly three times more than Livermore. Ki also averages more passes that lead to shots per 90 minutes.
South Korea was placed in a considerably tough group with title-contenders Germany, knockout round regulars in Mexico and a Zlatan-less Sweden. South Korea’s success is riding on Tottenham’s Son Heung-min’s shoulders. But if they’re successful, it could be Ki reaping the benefits while spraying passes to the attacking half.
4. Ahmed Hegazi, Egypt (West Bromwich Albion)
Let’s dabble into a little innocent transfer rumor fodder, shall we? West Brom’s (for now) Ahmed Hegazi has been linked to three Premier League clubs before the World Cup. Among the suiters are Leicester, West Ham, and even Tottenham.
However, it doesn’t sound like West Brom are keen on selling one of their bright spots from last season.
Hegazi rose to the occasion under Darren Moore. With the Baggies all-but cut adrift toward relegation, Hegazi was masterful in defense to secure clean sheets against Manchester United, Newcastle and Tottenham.
The 27-year-old will anchor the defense for the Pharaohs this summer and could make an appearance in the knockout stage with if they emerge from what many believe is the weakest group.
3. Aleksandar Mitrovic, Serbia (Newcastle)
The Newcastle owned, Fulham loaned striker Aleksandar Mitrovic was instrumental in guiding the Cottagers toward promotion to the Premier League this May. He arrived on January’s deadline day after making six substitution appearances for Newcastle. He made 18 appearances for Fulham (16 starts), bagged 12 goals and peppered opposing keepers with 3.4 shots on target per 90 minutes.
This goes without saying, but Fulham fans are begging for the move to become permanent. It could be a little more complicated than that, especially if Mitrovich continues his form for Serbia.
Mitrovich scored a hat-trick against Bolivia in his squad’s final tune-up for Russia. Serbia are one of the favorites to get out of Group E, which includes Brazil, Switzerland and Costa Rica. If Mitrovich finds the back of the net a couple times in Russia, his price tag will start to creep north of what Fulham are willing to pay.
2. Nacer Chadli, Belgium (West Bromwich Albion)
If there’s one thing I can guarantee from this list is that Nacer Chadli is going to move as far away from West Bromwich Albion as he can after the World Cup. The Belgium international made three appearances for the relegated club this past season and by all accounts, since his move from Tottenham, the winger didn’t make many friends in the Midlands.
It’s still undecided whether Chadli is going to see the pitch in Russia this summer, but his inclusion on a heavily favorited Belgium side tells you he’s healed from a hip injury that kept him sidelined for the majority of the 2017-18 season.
Napoli have reported interest in the winger, and a showing, of any kind, in the World Cup could seal Chadli’s move to Italy.
1. Xherdan Shaqiri, Switzerland (Stoke City)
Okay, maybe I can guarantee two things: Despite his superhero efforts to keep Stoke City from falling into the Championship, Xherdan Shaqiri will wear a new badge this August and it will be somewhere in England.
Shaqiri was one of the best players not playing for a Top 6 side this past year. The 26-year-old right-side attacker played in all but two matches for the Potters and bagged eight goals and seven assists. As Stoke’s talisman this past season, his expected goals were below average. However, you could argue that’s not his game.
Shaqiri is best in the playmaking role. He averaged more than two passes that led to shots per 90 minutes and the sum of Expected Goals off shots from his key passes per 90 minutes was double the League average.
Liverpool has been heavily linked to the Swiss star. As rumors swirl around his future, he will be a fun watch for anyone who finds themselves in front of a Switzerland game this summer.
Jack Butland, England (Stoke City)
He won’t play for Stoke next season but it could be difficult for the English keeper to find time behind Jordan Pickford in Russia. It will be interesting to see how his future shakes out this summer with so many quality foreign keepers in the Premier League.
Ramadan Sobhi, Egypt (Stoke City)
This is a complete shout. A lot of people wondered why the 21-year-old right-winger didn’t play more for Stoke this past season
Although he’s not expected to start, he could be the missing piece for Egypt as they look to distract defenses away from Mohamed Salah in Russia.
Whelp, Sobhi signed with Huddersfield Town today, just hours after this post. So, here’s a new sleeper.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek, England (Chelsea)
Ruben Loftus-Cheek has been treated poorly by Chelsea since he hit his 20s. After featuring in 32 matches for Chelsea, six in 2016-17, he was sent to Crystal Palace on loan for the 2017-18 season. He played 21 matches and bossed the midfield, tending to play on the left side. Palace loved him, supporters roared when he returned after a lengthy ankle injury and bragged about him when he turned heads while playing for in the lead up to the World Cup.
But much like Aleksandar Mitrovic, if he buries a goal for the Three Lions in Russia, a permanent move to Selhurst could become tricky.
Put yourself in the RLC’s shoes for a moment. Your parent club, the club you joined as a boy and have been dedicating your career to, gives you six appearances in 2016-17, a title-winning season. Then, over the summer, they buy 23-year-old Tiemoue Bakayoko from Monaco, who happens to play your position, for $54 million. You get sent on loan, but your parent club isn’t done yet. Chelsea brought in Everton’s midfielder Ross Barkley for $23 million and Leicester City’s midfielder Danny Drinkwater for more than $50 million.
If you’re keeping track at home that’s $127 million for three players who aren’t in the World Cup to replace someone you sent on loan, to a London rival, who is on the England roster.
Do you really want to return to Chelsea after that type of treatment? With RLC, we don’t know, and probably won’t know until England is sent home from the World Cup. But for now, he’s my second sleeper to receive a big move after this year’s tournament.