The likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are of course world superstars and don’t need a World Cup to confirm that, though an exceptional performance in Brazil could help elevate their status amongst the all-time greats.
Players such as Neymar, Luis Suarez, Wayne Rooney, Andres Iniesta and Andrea Pirlo to name but a few are also well established names.
As the countdown comes closer to kick off (and with four Brazilian stadia still struggling to be ready for the showpiece tournament), James Clancy counts down the five players most likely to turn themselves from well known players to world super stars.
5. den Hazard (Chelsea and Belgium):
Chelsea manager José Mourinho has tipped Hazard to become as good as Messi and Ronaldo. The winger looks well placed to make an even bigger name for himself as he will be surrounded by a squad packed with talent that should afford him a free role to cause havoc.
4. Kevin Strootman (Roma and Holland):
Strootman was playing Under-21 football last summer but should add drive and dynamism to the Dutch midfield just as he has done at Roma. At one time Strootman was constantly linked with Manchester United and David Moyes could use his presence in the centrer of midfield.
3. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal and England):
Chamberlain appears to be a ready made replacement for injured club and international team mate Theo Walcott. Oxlade-Chamberlain may not possess the raw pace of his Arsenal colleague but he is more versatile and has popped up with some crucial goals recently having missed the first half of the season through injury.
2. Jack Wilshere (Arsenal and England):
One of the themes of England’s summer will be a debate over who succeeds Steven Gerrard as captain after the World Cup in Brazil. Gerrard turns 34 on the eve of the tournament and, even in a more stamina-preserving holding role, it would be a surprise if he decided to continue on to the European Championships in France. Whilst Gerrard will be missed both on and off the pitch, Wilshere is cut from the same cloth as the Liverpudlian and could lay down a marker in Brazil.
1. Antoine Griezmann (Real Sociedad and France):
Despite scraping through, Les Bleus have an array of young talent which could help them make an impact, including winger Griezmann. A tally of 14 goals in 22 matches so far this season tells its own story and his personal battle just to make Didier Deschamps’ squad could help him hit the ground running.
Some other names to watch out for in Brazil: Paul Pogba, Edin Dzeko, Diego Costa and several more.
Pundit Arena, James Clancy.
Featured Image By Ben Sutherland [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.