World Cup 2022: Ten players who could earn a Premier League move in January transfer window

Plenty of players caught the eye in Qatar but a select few elevated their reputation to a new level.

By Callum Rice-Coates Published: 19 December 2022 - 10.59am

World Cup 2022 has been timed almost perfectly to entice clubs on the hunt for new players in the January transfer window.

The final will be played on December 18, after which domestic football will return and almost immediately attention will turn to transfer rumours.

And inevitably the form of players at the World Cup will influence who is talked about.

Several young players have already made their mark in Qatar, while others have emerged having been relatively unknown before the tournament.

Cody Gakpo

At one point it seemed like Gakpo might be a contender for the Golden Boot. Three goals in three games in the group stages - including a superb strike against Ecuador - meant the PSV forward was the talk of the tournament in the opening couple of weeks.

The 23-year-old impressed in the last 16 win over USA, too, although he was quiet as Louis van Gaal’s side lost out to Argentina on penalties in the quarter-finals.

Still, it was a tournament to remember for Gakpo, who has already been linked to Manchester United and Arsenal amongst others.

Piero Hincapie

Ecuador’s tournament may have come to a premature end, but the South American side caught the eye with a draw against Netherlands and an opening night win over hosts Qatar.

And at the heart of their best performances was 20-year-old defender Hincapie, who currently plays for Bundesliga team Bayer Leverkusen.

Physically robust and able to play out from the back, it’s no surprise that Arsenal and Tottenham are rumoured to be interested in the youngster.

Josko Gvardiol

Gvardiol was turning heads before the World Cup began but this tournament has truly cemented him as one of the brightest young talents in Europe.

The RB Leipzig centre-back has been immense for Croatia, a distinctive, masked figure at the back in a team overachieving once again.

With just three goals conceded in five games and a string of exceptional performances, it seems Gvardiol will be the target of several big clubs in Europe.

Enzo Fernandez

One of the favourites for the young player of the tournament award, Fernandez has quietly excelled in Argentina’s midfield.

With Rodrigo De Paul acting as the destroyer, Fernandez has been able to keep things ticking over in the middle, facilitating for Lionel Messi to do his thing in more advanced areas.

At 21, the future looks bright for the Benfica player, who is reportedly a target for Liverpool.

Ritsu Doan

Japan earned admirers from around the world for their exploits in Qatar, beating both Spain and Germany before losing to Croatia on penalties in the last 16.

Their story was one of the collective proving greater than the sum of their parts, although a couple of players did stand out.

One of them was Doan of Freiburg, who came off the bench to score against Germany and Spain and caught the eye with his energy and incisiveness in attack.

The winger has impressed in the Bundesliga this season, too, and at 24 will likely have plenty of potential suitors.

Mohammed Kudus

Ghana, given their status as the lowest ranked team in the World Cup, performed better than many expected, beating South Korea and running Portugal close before their eventual elimination at the hands of old foes Uruguay.

At the centre of everything they did well in an attacking sense was Kudus, a player of real quality and intelligence.

The 22-year-old has excelled for Ajax in the Champions League this season and links to Liverpool have started already.

Rafael Leao

Leao only managed a total of 83 minutes on the pitch for Portugal in Qatar but that was more than enough for the winger to show his ability.

Cutting in from the left flank, he scored twice from the bench and looked a threat every time he was on the ball.

Those who have watched Milan in Serie A this season won’t have been surprised. Expect to see more of Leao in future World Cups, and perhaps in the Premier League in the not too distant future.

Sofyan Amrabat

Morocco’s historic run to the semi-finals was built on incredible defensive organisation and tactical intelligence.

But they would probably not have managed it without the brilliance of Amrabat in midfield. The Fiorentina man was exceptional in his role as Morocco’s destroyer, constantly breaking up attacks and laying the foundations for Hakim Ziyech and co to hit teams on the counter.

Liverpool and Spurs have been mentioned as possible destinations for Amrabat, the younger brother of former Watford player Nordin Amrabat.

Goncalo Ramos

Benfica striker Ramos appeared to be having a quiet first World Cup with just a couple of late substitute appearances for Portugal in the group stages.

But his introduction to the starting XI in place of Cristiano Ronaldo for the last 16 clash with Switzerland changed everything.

The 21-year-old scored a superb hat-trick, immediately grabbing the attention of world football. 

Benfica won’t let him go without a fight, but there is guaranteed to be plenty of interest.

Harry Souttar

Australia defender Souttar isn’t too far away from the Premier League given he’s been playing his football for Stoke in the Championship for the last three seasons.

But it seems like he might be ready to make the step up to the top flight after several heroic displays for his country in Qatar.

Souttar was instrumental as Australia navigated a difficult group, including France, Denmark and Tunisia, and only narrowly lost to Argentina in the last 16.

And those performances will undoubtedly have caught the eye of some Premier League clubs in need of defensive reinforcement.