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Analysis: Which World Cup stars should be heading to the Premier League?

Regardless of the wisdom of buying players based on one tournament performance, we suspect that a host of World Cup stars will be securing big moves following their exploits in Russia.

For each of the Premier League's 'big six' we've analysed last season's data to identify their most pressing weakness and matched it to the three World Cup players who best address it ahead of the 2018/19 Premier League season.


The post-Wenger era has already seen the Gunners' squad shaken up with new arrivals at goalkeeper, centre-back and central midfield, so Unai Emery has probably exhausted a large chunk of his transfer kitty. The data suggests that he would do well to secure a more like-for-like replacement for Alexis Sanchez though, given how little Arsenal created down the left after his departure last season.

Ivan Perisic of World Cup finalists Croatia fits the bill best given that - like Sanchez - he has an eye for goal as well as a pass, but if success has inflated his price then either Hakim Ziyech of Morocco or Mexico's Hirving Lozano - both plying their trade in the Eredivisie - could be more affordable options.


Alvaro Morata endured a frustrating debut season for Chelsea, with the worst ratio of expected to actual goals of anyone who got into double figures last season. With Diego Costa having departed and Michy Batshuayi surely fed up of playing second fiddle when he could be tearing it up in the Bundesliga, the Blues will likely be tempted to enter the market again.

There haven't been many young strikers strutting their stuff in Russia, but for an instant impact there'd be plenty of sense in ending Edinson Cavani's lengthy stint at PSG and offering him a fresh challenge. His physicality makes him capable of filling a Costa-shaped hole, but if he's too pricey then another short-term fix could be the equally burly Mario Mandzukic of Croatia, who may be in search of game time now that the Cristiano Ronaldo circus has arrived at Juventus.

Another strong showing from Mexico's Javier Hernandez makes him an enticing back-up option from the bench should new Blues boss Maurizio Sarri think he can get more out of Morata than his predecessor Antonio Conte did.


As the Champions League final showed, Liverpool are no nearer a solution to their goalkeeping crisis. Only two clubs repelled fewer chances for each goal conceded in the Premier League last season so this isn't likely to be a problem that keeping faith will solve.

Despite his childhood links with his father's club Manchester United, Kasper Schmeichel's impressive performances for Denmark (not least in their penalty shoot-out against Croatia) and Premier League pedigree sees him top the list of potential recruits. Mexico custodian Guillermo Ochoa had yet another good tournament while Yann Sommer of Switzerland is another option with solid top-level experience in the Bundesliga, where Jurgen Klopp will surely have been looking.

Manchester City

It's hard to find fault with the Premier League's record-breaking champions, but one area they've fallen short in their recruitment is at full-back: arguably the most pivotal role in Pep Guardiola's system. Kyle Walker was an inspired signing, but on the other flank they've been less fortunate, with Benjamin Mendy injured for a long stretch and underwhelming when in the team despite facing some pretty pedestrian opponents. With Fabian Delph having played out of position last season, Danilo hardly setting the world alight and Oleksandr Zinchenko still developing, there could be some movement here.

Jordi Alba acquitted himself well in a mostly disappointing Spain team and is still one of the best in the world in his position. He missed the Guardiola era at Barcelona, having been released before the latter's managerial career began, so it would be fitting for these two to finally work together. Martin Caceres also looked sharp in a well-drilled Uruguay defence but may lack the attacking verve or youth required, so City may be more inclined to target Lucas Hernandez, who shone in France's back line and is still only 22.

Manchester United

The lack of attacking output on the right side of the attack - and therefore a balance of options to unpick a stubborn defence - remains a concern for Jose Mourinho, whose side ranked just 15th by this measure last season.

Romelu Lukaku's Belgium team-mate Dries Mertens is the standout performer here, having flourished as a wide attacker despite playing in a more central role in Serie A. Chelsea's Willian is already being touted for a reunion with his former manager and the data from Russia suggests that this would be a sensible move. If United's rivals don't want to play ball then Croatia's Ante Rebic - one of the younger cogs in the midfield that overran England on the way to the final - would be a solid alternative.


Spurs have a strong starting 11 but concerns remain about their squad depth, with the most obvious gap being that between Harry Kane and his deputies. Fernando Llorente was not able to give Mauricio Pochettino any selection headaches when called upon last season, so a more inspiring understudy for England's main man would be a good idea.

We've looked specifically here at attacking players who came off the bench at the World Cup, with Mario Gomez of Germany showing that he's still a useful option, as he was for Stuttgart in their seventh-placed Bundesliga finish last season. Another German-based candidate is Josip Drmic of Switzerland, who looked a capable replacement for the goal-shy Haris Seferovic during the tournament and is only slightly older than Kane.

If Spurs want a more versatile attacker then Russia's breakout star Denis Cheryshev - nominally a winger but clearly a potent goal threat - could allow Pochettino to reshuffle his attack into a different shape less dependent on one outlet.

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Andrew McDermott
@a_mcdermott in Football