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World Cup top 10
09/07/2010  by Telegraph.co.uk
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World Cups give Premier League managers the opportunity to expand their horizons and discover players who may have eluded their intensive scouting systems; here are 10 that may have caught the eye of the Premier League.

Flying high: could Siphiwe Tshabalala's World Cup heroics for South Africa alert Premier League coaches?

The World Cup hasn't even finished but already, scrolling yellow tickers along our television screens inform us of Wesley Sneijder's transfer intentions and how Manchester City want to sign Robinho, without realising they already have him.

But that's no fun, is it? A good World Cup showing from the likes of Sneijder, Xavi and Villa simply reaffirm what we already knew, and simply raise their pricetags to astronomical and unaffordable heights.

For managers looking for a bargain, the World Cup can be like a cattle market. 736 players on show, with over 500 of them unpronounceable to Mick McCarthy. It is these players who are the true stars of the tournament; and it is these players who managers will gamble on to inject that bit of pace, tenacity or goalscoring prowess ahead of the new season.

Here are the top 10 Premier League managers may want to take a look at; but as the old proverb goes: don't forget Phil Babb.


Name: Anthony Annan (Ghana)
Club: Rosenborg
Age: 23

Michael Essien's injury appeared to herald Ghana's elimination before the World Cup even begun; but unbeknown to the world, the West Africans had a ready-made replacement in the squad. At 23-years-old, Rosenborg central midfielder Anthony Annan belies his age with his intelligence both on and off the ball.

His passing ranges from the economical to the excellent, although he can't be regarded as a considerable goal threat with only one international goal in 41 appearances. Time is on his side though and he can still develop both physically and mentally. Annan could be a frightening prospect in a few years time, more than suited to the physicality of the Premier League.


Name: Michael Bradley (USA)
Club: Borussia Moenchengladbach
Age: 22

Bradley's inclusion in the USA's starting eleven is not a display of nepotism from father Bob. The box-to-box midfielder is a vital component of the American squad, breaking up attacks before exploiting the movement of Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey with acute passes. In fact, given the USA essentially play just two in the midfield, his uncanny ability to impose himself in a midfield battle is even more astonishing.

The test for Bradley in England would come in terms of stamina. The USA very much contain teams in the first 45 minutes and then release their energies fully in the second half, but the Premier League's frantic pace throughout would be something he would have to adapt to quickly.


Name: Claudio Morel Rodriguez (Paraguay)
Club: Boca Juniors
Age: 32

His name is not one that reels off the tongue, nor is his play one that immediately catches the eye, but there's a touch of class about the diminutive Paraguayan left-back. Claudio Morel may be the wrong side of 30 at 32-years-old, but his engine was still purring in South Africa as he raced down the left-hand side. His work at the back isn't too bad either, playing every minute in a defence which conceded just two goals in six games.

At 5 foot 9, his height may be a worry, but don't let the short legs fool you - the South American can generate a lot of power with his left foot when sending crosses in. Boca Juniors, incredibly, have not renewed his contract and he would be available on a free.


Name: Fabio Coentrao (Benfica)
Club: Benfica
Age: 22

Forget CR9, FC23 was undoubtedly the star of Portugal's disappointing World Cup campaign to accentuate an incredible change of fortune for the Benfica star. Loaned out by the Portuguese giants to several teams, including relegated Real Zaragoza, his career as a promising left-sided midfielder appeared to stall. But after David Luiz's shift to centre back, Benfica recalled Coentrao and provided him an opportunity to operate as a marauding left-back.

The 22-year-old needed no second invitation to seize that opportunity, and he's translated that form onto the international scene. Coentrao looked like Portugal's most creative outlet in South Africa with his attacking lustre, and also provided a strong foundation at the back in a team which only conceded one goal in four games.


Name: Mark Paston (New Zealand)
Club: Wellington Phoenix
Age: 33

The New Zealand goalkeeper has already appeared in England's lower leagues, but after his heroics in South Africa, the 33-year-old may have more attractive propositions forthcoming. Not bad for a goalkeeper who wasn't expected to be first choice. At the climax of their qualification campaign, the All Whites' no.1 Glen Moss received a four-match suspension for improper conduct, meaning Paston kept goal for their crucial playoff against Bahrain. A penalty save and subsequent 1-0 aggregate win meant New Zealand were going to South Africa, and Paston was too with the goalkeeper shirt in his possession.

He was arguably man-of-the-match in all three of their group games, showing off tremendous reflexes and safe hands. His standout performance against Italy, denying the World Champions a number of times, helped secure a famous 1-1 draw.


Name: Robert Vittek (Slovakia)
Club: MKE Ankaragucu
Age: 28

Appearances can be deceiving. A cursory glance at Slovakian target man Robert Vittek's career would give the impression he was the consumate European lower-league striker; a quick look at him from afar when he played, with his distinctive bald head and back permanently to goal, would lead you to believe he was a poor man's Jan Koller.

Four goals in South Africa would seem to prove this as an unfair assessment, as would his exceptional clinic against Italy on how to play as a target man. He dominated Fabio Cannavaro, constantly beating him in the air and dragging him out of position for the Slovakian trio of Hamsik, Stoch and Jendrisek to exploit. Given many English teams adopt the 'three behind one' system up front, Vittek could excel as the target man; teams would have to wait until January, though, as he's just signed for Turkish side Ankaragucu.


Name: Keisuke Honda (Japan)
Club: CSKA Moscow
Age: 24

Journalists' quills weeped with joy as Honda gave them pun after pun in their match reports as his driving left-foot and fantastic engine helped Japan surprisingly qualify from a difficult group. Japan were well-drilled and organised, but Honda and his cultured feet were given the opportunity to conduct play like a composer with his baton. Traditionally a central midfielder, Japan coach Takeshi Okada operated him as a lone striker - a position alien to him before the World Cup.

It might be hyperbole to claim he has ushered in a new, ball-playing, play-dictating, composed playmaking lone striker into the footballing vernacular, but it was certainly a joy to watch Honda somehow manage to be in two positions at once throughout the tournament, creating and scoring at will.


Name: Arevalo Rios (Uruguay)
Club: Penarol
Age: 28

In the name of nostalgia, every World Cup side needs a hard man in the middle. Actually, it's fair to say every team needs a hard man in the middle. The only thing that is as joyful as 15 threaded passes weaving a beautiful move together is the glistening stud of a midfield hardcase destroying it. Uruguay have a wonderful ability of producing such glistening studs, and Arevalo Rios is the side's latest incarnation.

Rios was a beast in South Africa, acting as a human watershed - the second he nicked the ball from an unsuspecting opponent, the wonderful counter-attacking abilities of Forlan, Cavani, Suarez and Maxi Pereira would bloom as they broke with astonishing force. Rios would find them with unerring accuracy. With a move to AEK Athens in the works, some mid-table clubs may think about a last-minute bid.


Name: Diego Lugano (Uruguay)
Club: Fenerbahce
Age: 29

Diego Lugano is a player who doesn't just wear his heart on his sleeve, but his lungs as a waistcoat. A keen student of the Paolo Montero school of defending, he exhales every last breath for club and country. The 29-year-old gained European recognition for his performance against Liverpool in the 2005 Club World Championship final; Fernando Morientes is still attempting to recognise a way out of his back pocket.

A move to Fenerbahce the summer after followed, where he still remains today. Undoubtedly one of the stars of the World Cup, Lugano's uncompromising defensive style and aerial prowess is surprisingly complimented by his ability to join attacks at will. He's also a menace at set-pieces and his delightfully Uruguayan mentality would be an asset to any Premier League side.

Name: Siphiwe Tsabalala (South Africa)
Club: Kaiser Chiefs
Age: 25

How refreshing it was to see Siphiwe Tshabalala's black boots turn white, such was the amount of chalk they amassed as he enthusiastically paraded down the South African left side throughout the tournament. The 25-year-old is a traditional winger looking to torture the right-back with his pace and endeavour; his goal against Mexico, which will be remembered as the first goal at an African World Cup, is a shining example of the power his left foot can contain.

He can be slightly erratic but taking a gamble on the Kaiser Chiefs man would be worthwhile; his pace and energy would be of good use in the English league, while the money generated from having his 10-letter name on the back of replica shirts would eclipse the transfer fee in no time.

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