With this year's World Cup being held in the middle of the European soccer season, many questioned the impact it would have on the players’ clubs. While there have been some high-profile injuries, there've also been some players who've written their names among the stars.
For their clubs, this break has helped star players gain global recognition and grow their values ahead of the January transfer window. Whether they cash in and sell high or keep their players, the World Cup has absolutely helped some clubs more than others.
5 clubs that benefitted most from the 2022 World Cup
TWO FOR ARGENTINAEnzo Fernández with a BEAUTY pic.twitter.com/XMACd77tNv
— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) November 26, 2022
Benfica is one of many clubs on this list that has a reputation for finding talented young players and selling them to bigger clubs for huge transfer fees. Just look at the likes of Ángel Di María, Ederson and, more recently, João Félix.
This year, there are two Benfica superstars that the world will especially be watching. Argentina’s Enzo Fernández has been a crucial player for La Albiceleste as they reached the World Cup final. His goal against Mexico in the group stage put his name on the lips of every soccer fan worldwide and his performances since have kept it there.
For Portugal, Gonçalo Ramos took a few more games to grab the headlines, but it was well worth the wait. His hat trick against Switzerland remains the only such feat at the tournament, and what a showing it was. His 1.78 goals per 90 is second best at the tournament, only behind Marcus Rashford.
My first World Cup✨
What a rollercoaster of a game it was last night. We fought like and were so close.. In the end it wasn't enoughI feel proud to have had the opportunity to represent my country. We’ll be back for more, promised pic.twitter.com/QTgjO03lyQ
— Jurrien Timber (@JurrienTimber) December 10, 2022
It didn’t matter if they were wearing the orange of the Netherlands, the green of Mexico or the white of Ghana. The Ajax boys came to play. The most prominent example was 21-year-old Jurriën Timber, who took Matthijs de Ligt’s spot in the Dutch defense and was thoroughly impressive in his four appearances.
Unfortunately for them, most of the non-Dutch Ajax representatives never got beyond the group stage, but even in those three games, their class was apparent.
Dušan Tadić provided two assists for Serbia, while Mohammed Kudus netted twice for the Black Stars and is ranked 14th among all players at the tournament for goals per 90 with 0.73. At just 22 years of age, don't be surprised if Kudus is rewarded with a massive transfer in a few weeks.
We need to talk about Joško Gvardiol… always knew he was special, but he’s genuinely been one of the players of the tournament - just an outrageous talent; a proper Rolls-Royce centre back - so complete, so good!— Neal (@NealGardner_) December 9, 2022
This list could consist of one man and it would be fully deserved. Joško Gvardiol has been one of the standout stars of this World Cup, helping lead Croatia to the semifinals for a second consecutive tournament.
His 33 clearances are the most of anyone, and his nine tackles, eight interceptions and seven blocks are nothing to scoff at either. Oh yeah, and he was born in 2002. Feel old yet? His already high market value of $64 million will only go up, so if potential suitors want a great young center back before his price reaches the stratosphere, January may be their best chance.
Besides him, Dani Olmo impressed for Spain, bagging a goal and an assist, while David Raum and Lukas Klostermann both played well in limited roles for Germany despite its disappointing campaign.
No player has created more chances than Antoine Griezmann at the 2022 World CupMagician ✨ pic.twitter.com/ToxmHt51ju
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) December 14, 2022
This may be a cheap addition to the list, but Atléti had a host of players tear it up in Qatar for some successful sides as well. Antoine Griezmann has been a standout star for France en route to the final, providing three assists in a deeper role as either a second striker or attacking midfielder.
Facing him in the final will be Argentines Nahuel Molina and Rodrigo De Paul. The pair have both been crucial in their first trip to the final since 2014. Molina has provided a goal and an assist in his six appearances while De Paul has been involved on both sides of the ball. His 16 shot-creating-actions only trail Lionel Messi and defensively, he has the joint-most tackles and interceptions with 17 alongside Nicolás Otamendi.
Not every Atléti player made the final though. Both Álvaro Morata and João Félix were sent packing by Morocco in the round of 16 and quarterfinals. respectively. However, Morata’s three goals and one assist are good enough for joint-fifth at the World Cup while Félix scored once and assisted twice.
Bono deserves this moment pic.twitter.com/0SdQ2myxXJ— B/R Football (@brfootball) December 6, 2022
How could we not mention the side most affected by Morocco’s historic run to the semifinals? Goalkeeper Bono was the man between the sticks for the Atlas Lions for all but one game in Qatar. He kept three clean sheets in five games and was the hero in his side’s penalty shootout win over Spain, making two saves.
In the attack, his teammate for both club and country, Youssef En-Nesyri, scored twice, including an incredible headed goal to send Portugal home.
Sevilla will have three representatives in the final in the form of Papu Gómez, Gonzalo Montiel and Marcos Acuña. While Gómez and Montiel’s minutes have been limited, Acuña has been a crucial part of Argentina’s success with some stalwart defensive performances as well as an assist.