5 Former World Cup Stars Who Didn’t Quite Live Up To The Hype
Is it even a World Cup without a previously unheard-of footballing talent bursting onto the scene?
The breakout star of Qatar 2022, it seems, is Portugal’s Goncalo Ramos. After being selected as a surprise replacement for Cristiano Ronaldo, Ramos scored an incredible hattrick against Switzerland to help ease his country into the quarter-finals.
Naturally, with the January transfer window opening in just under a month, the rumour mill has already started turning, with fans everywhere hoping that 21-year-old Ramos can be lured away from Benfica to join their club.
But is signing a footballer based solely on an impressive World Cup performance a proven transfer policy?
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The team at Betting.com has shared the names of five stars who landed big transfers after shining at the World Cup, but ultimately failed to live up to the initial lofty expectations.
1. Kleberson – Brazil, 2002
When Brazil lifted its fifth World Cup in 2002, the previously unheard-of central midfielder Kléberson was declared the “driving force” behind the team’s path to victory by then-manager, Luiz Felipe Scolari.
Bizarrely, it took a whole year after his World Cup heroics before Kléberson finally got his move away from Atlético Paranaense to a major European club. In 2003, Manchester United landed the Brazilian’s signature – the same transfer window as Cristiano Ronaldo, no less.
However, Kléberson famously didn’t live up to his earlier promise in the Premier League, making just 20 appearances in two seasons for the Red Devils, before being sold on to Beşiktaş. By 2007, Kléberson was back playing in Brazil with Flamengo.
2. Aliou Cisse – Senegal, 2002
After captaining Senegal to an unlikely run to the quarter-final at the 2002 World Cup, several Premier League clubs were clambering for the signature of Aliou Cisse.
Birmingham City won this transfer race. However, the midfielder’s time in the West Midlands got off to the worst possible start, as he was sent off on his debut for the club.
Cisse’s Birmingham City experience hardly improved from there, as his two-season spell with the club was plagued with regular yellow cards, persistent injuries and an increasingly sour relationship with then-manager, Steve Bruce.
Fortunately, Cissé has remained a legend with the Senegal national team, leading the country to the last 16 at the 2022 World Cup, plus victory at the 2021 African Cup of Nations.
3. Asamoah Gyan – Ghana, 2010
Ghana took the 2010 World Cup by storm, narrowly missing out on a spot in the semi-finals after a penalty shoot-out with Uruguay, and striker Asamoah Gyan was the man leading the line.
Gyan’s three World Cup goals – including an extra-time winner against the USA – did not go unnoticed by Premier League clubs, and the striker joined Sunderland shortly after the tournament was over.
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Gyan’s Premier League started brightly, scoring 10 goals in 34 games for Sunderland. However, a serious injury meant that the striker was moved on to Abu Dhabi-based club Al Ain, just over one year into his four-year contract.
4. James Rodriguez – Colombia, 2014
James Rodríguez’s reputation had been quietly growing in Europe prior to the 2014 World Cup, after good spells with F.C. Porto and AS Monaco.
However, after a stellar tournament, the Colombian forward seemed destined for superstardom and signed a bumper contract with Real Madrid, just weeks after Colombia exited the World Cup in the quarter-finals.
Sadly, despite Real Madrid being the Colombian’s “dream move”, he ultimately failed to live up to the hype.
Rodríguez’s career may not have reached the dizzying heights that many expected, but the attacking midfielder still enjoyed a good degree of success during a two-year loan spell with Bayern Munich, before a permanent move to Everton in 2020.
5. Joel Campbell – Costa Rica, 2014
Joel Campbell’s terrific performances in Costa Rica’s unlikely run to the quarter-finals at the 2014 World Cup, did not so much land him a big transfer, but rather the chance to stay and fight for his place at his parent club – Arsenal.
After a series of seemingly never-ending loan spells at the likes of Real Betis and Olympiacos, then-manager Arsene Wenger declared that striker Joel Campbell would play a big part in Arsenal’s 2014-15 campaign.
However, the Costa Rica international failed to set the Premier League alight and before long was back on loan duties. In 2018, Campbell finally got a permanent move away from Arsenal, joining Frosinone in Italy.
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