International football is dead. Or so we are regularly told. It is said that players no longer care about representing their country; that the pinnacle of any professional’s career is now the Champions League. However, the World Cup retains a unique allure, as this summer’s transfer dealings alone have already underlined.
When Steven Caulker surprised many pundit by opting to leave Tottenham for Cardiff at the end of July, the England hopeful explained that the motivating factor behind his move was the far greater likelihood of regular first-team football in the run-up to the World Cup.
Caulker is by no means an isolated case. On the face of it, Luiz Gustavo looks a shoo-in for inclusion in the Brazil squad on the back of his performances in this summer's Confederations Cup, but the defensive midfielder still wants out of Bayern Munich.
Less than a year after Javi Martinez’s arrival at the Allianz Arena, Gustavo's chances of game time this season have decreased further by the acquisition of another Spaniard, Thiago Alcantara, from Barcelona.