Armchair Pundit

Kleberson: A warning from history

Alex Chick

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History tells us it is rarely a good idea to sign a player off the back of a good World Cup, yet that won't stop Premier League sides flashing their cash at the stars of South Africa 2010.

French striker Stephane Guivarc'h won the World Cup in 1998, but once he arrived at Newcastle proved an unmitigated disaster.

Likewise El Hadji Diouf (admittedly signed by Liverpool before the 2002 World Cup) looked dynamite as Senegal reached the last eight, but failed to justify his £10m price. He is best-known for his over-active saliva glands, and his stable of spectacularly tacky motors.

Manchester United had a full year to reflect on Kleberson's role in Brazil's 2002 World Cup win, but signed him anyway. It soon emerged they had managed to buy the only duff player in the team. Apart from Roque Junior. Incredibly Kleberson was back in the Brazil squad in South Africa.

Despite the dangers inherent in signing a player who happened to have a couple of good games at the right time, here are some of the players who have been attracting Premier League attention, given completely arbitrary ratings out of five based on their likelihood of representing shrewd business for potential buyers.

Asamoah Gyan (Ghana / Rennes)

Gyan carved out a place in World Cup infamy, missing a penalty with the final kick of extra-time that would have taken Ghana into the last four. Before that he was one of the stars of the show, scoring three goals for the Black Stars. But there were already warning signs: two of the three strikes came from the penalty spot, while too often Gyan was profilgate in front of goal. And we have been here before with Gyan, who impressed mightily in Germany four years ago but never quite made it with Udinese, and has been only moderately successful with Rennes. Quick, strong and incredibly courageous, but Gyan is not a natural finisher.

Possible destination: West Ham
Likelihood of success: 2/5

Gregory van der Wiel (Netherlands / Ajax)

The Dutchman is the perfect embodiment of the modern full-back; quick, comfortable on the ball and heavily tattooed.The 22-year-old has already been linked with Arsenal, Manchester City and Real Madrid, and has done himself no harm with some top performances in South Africa. Last year, Van der Wiel pulled out of international duty because of concussion, only to post a picture of himself with rapper Lil' Wayne on his Twitter page. The incident caused considerable controversy and understandably so: Lil' Wayne is rubbish.

Possible destination: Arsenal, Manchester City
Likelihood of success: 4/5

Lukas Podolski (Germany / Cologne)

You might have noticed this bloke tearing down the left flank for Germany, striking fear into opposition defenders and generally looking a bit class. Yet at club level Podolski is a laughing stock, voted the Bundesliga's biggest flop in a poll of his fellow professionals. He went 1,425 between goals for Cologne and only managed three in total all season. This after failing with Bayern Munich following the 2006 World Cup (at which he was also brilliant). How to reconcile the difference between Club Poldi and International Poldi? I can only suggest whoever buys him brings Joachim Loew along with him.

Possible destination: Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur
Likelihood of success: 3/5

Marcus Tulio Tanaka (Japan / Nagoya Grampus)

The Brazilian-born Japan defender would seem to be the perfect capture if there are any clubs who still sign players off the strength of YouTube clips. Instantly recognisable with his long hair, Tulio certainly catches the eye with his flashy last-ditch tackles and impressive goalscoring record (including one in a friendly against England). If you were really kind, you would say his technique and attacking ability were reminiscent of Lucio, but in reality he is more likely the next Fabricio Coloccini, with all the razzle-dazzle masking a lack of basic fundamental defensive skills.

Possible destination: Wigan Athletic
Likelihood of success: 1/5

Edinson Cavani (Uruguay / Palermo)

Any managers hoping Cavani might be an affordable 'Plan C' behind Uruguay team-mates Diego Forlan and Luis Suarez will be disappointed, with Palermo hoping to manufacture an almighty bidding war for him. Maverick chairman claimed Spurs had bid £28m for Cavani and clubmate Simon Kjaer, only to subsequently admit it was a pack of lies. Manchester City may be the only Premier League club with the resources to sign Cavani, who for his part has said he wants to be 'The Wayne Rooney of Inter Milan', whatever that means. Whoever gets him will get a strong, versatile player able to play through the middle or down the left. But they will also get ripped off.

Possible destination: Manchester City, Tottenham.
Likelihood of success: 2/5

Carlos Salcido (Mexico / PSV)

The left-back's eye-catching performances in Germany four years ago earned him a move to PSV Eindhoven and, aged 30, this is probably his last chance to move to one of Europe's top leagues. Or the Premier League. Mind you, it should always be a bit of a red flag if a defender's best work is done going forwards, and that is certainly the case of Salcido. The crossbar at Soccer City may just have stopped shaking after Salcido struck it with a 40-yard thunderbolt over a week ago. Still, he could be available or as little as £2 million after falling out with PSV coach Frank Rutten.

Possible destination: Newcastle, Tottenham, West Ham
Likelihood of success: 3/5

Park Chu-Young (South Korea / Monaco)

A few Premier League bosses might have got a call from their marketing men after South Korea's draw with Nigeria: "Did you see that free-kick" While the fringe benefits of signing a Korean are well-established, park can actually play as well. He might not offer the tireless work rate of Manchester United's Park Ji-Sung or the darting runs of Bolton's Lee Chung-Yong, but he is composed in possession and knows where the goal is. Fulham failed to prise him away from Monaco in 2009 but the Europa League finalists may now have more success landing their man - especially as the club has strong Korean links.

Possible destination: Fulham
Likelihood of success: 2/5

Marek Hamsik (Slovakia / Napoli)

The Slovakia captain somehow emerged from the World Cup with his reputation enhanced despite appearing to do nothing more than be part of a successful team. Sporting a haircut Sid Vicious would have called "a bit much" Hamsik spent most of Slovakia's campaign looking frustrated while the likes of Miroslav Stoch, Juraj Kucka and Robert Vittek picked up the slack around him. Certainly Hamsik looked nothing like the £25m player he is billed as, but as we have learned, a duff World Cup might just mean you are Wayne Rooney or Cristiano Ronaldo.

Possible destination: Chelsea, Manchester United
Likelihood of success: 3/5

Mike Bradley (USA / Borussia Moenchengladbach)

American players are very much en vogue after Landon Donovan's successful loan spell at Everton, but for every Donovan there is a Jozy Altidore, whose inability to locate the net more than once in 28 games was a major factor in Hull's relegation. Bradley, son of US coach Bob, was one of his country's leading lights in South African and has been in Europe since 2006 with Heerenveen and Moenchengladbach. There is no question over Bradley's application, teamwork and fitness, but does he possess the technical ability to succeed in the Premier League?

Possible destination: Everton, Aston Villa, West Ham
Likelihood of success: 4/5

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