A strong showing at the World Cup can do great things for player's career. Barcelona and Real Madrid have now each signed two players who raised their profiles through a variety of methods at the 2014 World Cup and, in the process, they have revealed exactly what a footballer must do on the sport's biggest stage to maximize their value.
Let's see what over-reaching conclusions we can draw from these moves.
Name: Claudio Bravo
Transfer: From Real Sociedad to Barcelona for €12 million
What he did: Kept a clean sheet against Spain in the group stage and helped Chile to the round of 16, where they lost to Brazil in a penalty shootout. Bravo was one of many great keepers in this tournament, but if Chile had made it past the host nation, his fee could have been significantly higher.
Name: Toni Kroos
Transfer: From Bayern Munich to Real Madrid for €30 million
What he did: Helped Germany win the World Cup with two goals and four assists and was the highest rated player at any position in FIFA's Castrol Index Rankings.
Name: James Rodriguez
Transfer: From Monaco to Real Madrid for €80 million (fifth highest transfer fee of all time)
What he did: Emerged as the tournament's breakout star, winning the Golden Boot with six goals and leading Colombia to the quarterfinals. Porto sold him to Monaco for €45 million just last summer, so his World Cup performance (and resulting increase in name recognition) nearly doubled his value in the eyes of shopaholic Real Madrid president Florentino Perez.
Name: Luis Suarez
Transfer: From Liverpool to Barcelona for €94 million (third highest transfer fee of all time)
What he did: Missed Uruguay's first match due to injury, but scored twice to beat England 2-1 in their second match and then bit Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini in their third match, earning himself a four-month ban from all football-related activity (since it was the third time he's bitten an opponent in his career). As a result, he was unable to play in Uruguay's round of 16 match against Colombia, in which James Rodriguez scored both goals.
For players looking to make the most of the 2018 World Cup the objective is simple. The more goals you score in the tournament, the more money big clubs will be willing to spend on you. But if you only score a couple of goals and also physically assault an opponent in the most animalistic way possible, leaving you barred from playing for any team in the 209 FIFA member nations until the following October and unable to even attend your own unveiling at your new club, you'll end up being one of the three most valuable players ever. Clearly this is where Toni Kroos went wrong.
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