In 2014, it seems that in most pundit’s eyes, the quality on show in the English Premier League is steadily declining whilst continental clubs – Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, Juventus, etc – hoard all the very best players.
It’s true that many will be looking to the exalted likes of Messi, Ronaldo, Ribery, Neymar and Robben as the men likeliest to significantly affect the outcome of the World Cup Finals in Brazil, but don’t write off the Premier League’s superstars as possible international heroes this summer. Here are a few of the division’s leading lights who could quite plausibly change the course of football history in just a few months time:
Luis Suarez – Liverpool & Uruguay
The individual brilliance of Luis Suarez almost single-handedly propped up Liverpool’s Premier League campaign as the club found their feet over the opening months of the season, prompting owner John W. Henry to describe the precocious Uruguayan as a ‘magician’. His blistering run of form has seen him streak ahead in the race to be the Premier League’s top scorer for 2013/14, and he’s recently shown a more selfless side to his abilities, switching around at the front with Raheem Sterling and Daniel Sturridge in order to create chances for his team mates. This has paid dividends for the Merseyside club who have moved ahead of rivals Arsenal with coral, Liverpool are now 3rd favourites for the league according to the bookies.
Much as seemed true of Liverpool towards the start of the season, Uruguay lack the strength in depth of their geographically closest rivals; fellow South American sides Brazil and Argentina. That didn’t stop Liverpool hitting the top of the league at Christmas, and some would say that Suarez was largely to thank. Don’t be surprised if there’s a repeat this summer in Brazil.
Eden Hazard – Chelsea & Belgium
Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho recently described Eden Hazard as the best young player in the world, following the hat trick that sealed the total destruction of Newcastle at Stamford Bridge in the Premier League. The form Hazard has showed in recent games has indeed been dazzling, and with Belgium tipped by some as the second best European outfit heading to the finals (behind Germany), Hazard could be the key to his country’s success.
Wayne Rooney – Manchester United & England
Rooney’s consistent failures to live up to his stunning club form in international matches has underscored a long period of frustration for England fans. Could this be the tournament which will see him turn this around? If so, then England’s stock will rise exponentially.