10 World Cup players that could move to the Premier League in the January transfer window: Gakpo, Leao…

 Credit: Alamy
Credit: Alamy

The January transfer window opens 15 days after the World Cup final and Premier League clubs could use the competition to scout their top targets. 

In recent years, the likes of Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez and James Rodriquez have all earned huge transfers on the back of their performances at the World Cup.

We’ve taken a look at 10 players that are at the World Cup and could move to the Premier League in the January transfer window.

Note: we’ve not included players like Jude Bellingham, who will probably move in the summer transfer window instead of January.

Pau Torres

Since winning the Europa League with Villarreal in 2021, Torres has been the subject of much transfer speculation and has consistently been linked with a move to a Premier League side.

Manchester United and Tottenham have been most closely linked with the centre-back but Aston Villa, who are now managed by former Villarreal boss Unai Emery, have reportedly joined the race for his signature ahead of the January transfer window.

The 25-year-old has also established himself as a pillar at the heart of the Spanish national team and is expected to start alongside Eric Garcia at the World Cup after Sergio Ramos was left at home. 

Jeremie Frimpong

Despite being a Manchester City academy graduate, Frimpong is yet to make a single appearance in the Premier League.

The right-back moved to Celtic in the summer of 2019 and is now starring for Bayer Leverkusen, where he has registered seven goals and 13 assists in 68 appearances.

His impressive performances have reportedly prompted interest from Manchester United and Chelsea, and he has also caught Louis van Gaal’s attention.

The 21-year-old is currently uncapped at senior international level but has been named in the Netherlands’ World Cup squad and will be competing against Denzel Dumfries for the right wing-back spot. 

ayer Leverkusen full-back Jeremie Frimpong Credit: Alamy
ayer Leverkusen full-back Jeremie Frimpong Credit: Alamy

Edson Alvarez

Alvarez was the subject of a £43m bid from Chelsea in August and refused to train with the Ajax first team as he sought to force the transfer through. 

But Ajax rejected the offer as the Dutch transfer window had closed and they had already suffered a mass exodus of players during the summer.

‘There was interest from Chelsea,” he later told ESPN. “Nobody expected that they would make another offer. It was a difficult situation.

“Ajax really couldn’t do anything. They didn’t have a player in my position. Of course I fought as far as I could. I didn’t want to do that too much.

“Because I know the responsibility I have within the club. I am very disappointed, but I am convinced that sooner or later a big club will come for me.”

Chelsea are reportedly going to reignite their interest in him during the January transfer window while Manchester United have also been linked with the defensive midfielder.

The Mexico international will be hoping that his performances at the World Cup lead to a Premier League move in January.

Enzo Fernandez

Since joining Benfica from River Plate in the summer, Fernandez has quickly become one of the most exciting young midfielders in Europe.

The 21-year-old has played a key role in Benfica’s impressive start to 2022/23 as they finished ahead of PSG and Juventus in their Champions League group and are on course to win their first Primeira Liga title since 2019.

Manchester United and Liverpool have reportedly sent scouts to watch the Argentina international and will now monitor his progress at the World Cup.

The box-to-box midfielder had just three caps for his country ahead of the World Cup but looks set to play a leading role at the tournament following Giovani Lo Celso’s injury.

Cody Gakpo

Manchester United nearly bought Gakpo in the summer transfer window but ultimately backed out of the deal after signing Antony from Ajax.

The PSV winger put that behind him and has enjoyed a sensational start to 2022/23, registering 13 goals and 17 assists in 24 appearances in all competitions.

United are reportedly preparing to reignite their interest in the January transfer window as they look to replace the outgoing Cristiano Ronaldo but other clubs have joined the race for his signature in recent months.

“Real Madrid, FC Barcelona, ​​Manchester United, Manchester City and Liverpool,” he told NOS when asked what teams he’d love to play for. “It would be an honour to play there, but I also have to see what kind of team I can best achieve my goals.”

But his focus is currently on the World Cup, and the Netherlands international scored in a 2-0 win over Senegal in their opening game.

Rafael Leao

After winning the Serie A Footballer of the Year award during AC Milan’s title-winning campaign in 2021/22, Leao has become one of the most sought-after forwards in Europe.

TEAMtalk’s Graeme Bailey reported that Chelsea are pushing hard for the winger but Manchester United, Manchester City, Tottenham and Liverpool have also been credited with interest.

The 23-year-old has just over 18 months left on his Milan deal and is showing no desire to extend his deal at the San Siro.

“We’ve been talking about this [contract extension] for months, if not years,” Milan director Paolo Maldini told Sky Sport Italia.

“We’ll meet at the right moment and make a decision. The idea was to close [the deal] before the World Cup, especially with players involved in the competition, Leao in this case. It was not possible.”

Leao will be representing Portugal in Qatar and is expected to fill the void left by Liverpool’s Diogo Jota, who has been ruled out of the World Cup due to an injury. 

Mohamed Kudus

Alongside Edson Alvarez, Kudus was also denied a Premier League transfer by Ajax during the summer transfer window.

Everton manager Frank Lampard identified the Ghana international and they made a £15m bid but it was rejected by the Eredivisie side.

The centre-forward, who can also operate in midfield, reacted well and has registered 10 goals and two assists in 21 appearances this season, including a brilliant strike against Liverpool in the Champions League. 

He’ll now be hoping to hoping to showcase his skills on the biggest stage as Ghana face Portugal, South Korea and Uruguay in Group H.

According to reports in Italy, Tottenham director Fabio Paratici will keep a close watch on Kudus during the World Cup as he ponders adding a new forward to Antonio Conte’s squad.

Marcus Thuram

Thuram has been in brilliant form this season, registering 13 goals and four assists in 17 appearances for Borussia Monchengladbach.

The striker, who is out of contract at the end of the campaign, has now been linked with a move to the Premier League and Aston Villa, Newcastle United, Arsenal and Liverpool are all monitoring his situation.

His impressive performances have also earned him a spot in the France squad for the World Cup, and he will be hoping to follow in the footsteps of his dad Lilian, who lifted the trophy in 1998. 

The 25-year-old only has four international caps but could play a much more prominent role in the tournament following the injuries to Christopher Nkunku and Karim Benzema.

Memphis Depay

Depay failed to make an impact during his 18 months at Manchester United, scoring just two goals in 33 Premier League appearances. 

The 28-year-old rediscovered his best form at Lyon and then enjoyed an impressive debut season at Barcelona in 2021/22 before Robert Lewandowski’s arrival at Camp Nou saw him fall down the pecking order.

He could be given another chance to crack the Premier League as Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham, Manchester United and Newcastle have all been linked with the striker in recent weeks. 

With 12 goals and six assists in World Cup qualifying, Depay is undoubtedly the Netherlands’ most important player and will be targeting the Golden Boot in Qatar.

Georgio Chiellini, Memphis Depay, Frenkie de Jong, Netherland v Italy in Nations League clash at Stadium de Arena Credit: Alamy
Georgio Chiellini, Memphis Depay, Frenkie de Jong, Netherland v Italy in Nations League clash at Stadium de Arena Credit: Alamy

Youssoufa Moukoko

One of football’s most exciting prospects, Moukoko has only just celebrated his 18th birthday but has already scored 11 Bundesliga goals for Borussia Dortmund.

But Dortmund may be forced into cashing in during the January transfer window to avoid losing the striker as a free agent at the end of the season. 

He has reportedly impressed Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp but they’ll face competition from Premier League rivals Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United.

The teenager has been named in Hansi Flick’s Germany squad for the World Cup and will be looking to show why England’s top clubs are after him. 

READ MORE: Seven legendary players that starred at club level but never played at a World Cup: Cantona, Di Stefano…

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