With the 2018 FIFA World Cup almost upon us, all attention will be on this summer’s football extravaganza in Russia over the period of the next month.
More often not, strong performances in a World Cup end up working wonders for footballers’ careers. James Rodriguez became a Galactico after his exploits with Colombia four years ago, as did Keylor Navas after a brilliant World Cup campaign with Costa Rica.
There are numerous other examples of players earning widespread recognition in the colossal tournament, which makes the upcoming World Cup a great place for clubs to scout new talent. Having said that, here are three players that newly promoted Premier League club Fulham should keep a keen eye on during the proceedings in Russia;
Marko Grujic (Serbia)
The highly-rated Serbian midfielder is on the books of Premier League giants Liverpool but he is unlikely to get adequate game time with the Reds’ first-team. Fulham have been linked with the midfielder in recent times and they should continue monitoring Grujic over the course of the World Cup in Russia.
The 22-year-old has been a Liverpool player since January 2016 but has recorded only 14 first-team appearances till date, having endured loan spells at Red Star Belgrade and Cardiff City. During his short stint with the Welsh outfit, Grujic made a strong impression and he played an important hand in the Bluebirds’ promotion back to the Premier League.
A young and energetic box-to-box midfielder with great all-round abilities, Grujic has what it takes to shine in the Premier League.
Ahmed Hegazi (Egypt)
The 27-year-old Egyptian centre-half was one of West Bromwich Albion’s better players in the 2017/18 campaign. In a season that ended with relegation for the Baggies, Hegazi featured in each of their league fixtures, netting twice.
Fulham’s defence will have an opening since Chelsea defender Tomas Kalas is expected to return to his parent club with his loan spell coming to an end. And Hegazi would be an ideal option for Slavisa Jokanovic’s men. A no-nonsense defender with ample experience in the Premier League, the 27-year-old will be a solid addition to the Cottagers’ ranks next season. Thus, they must monitor him during the FIFA World Cup.
The 29-year-old Iceland captain and midfielder is out of contract with Cardiff City and he even rejected a new contract offer last season. Hence, Fulham should track him over the coming weeks in Russia. Gunnarsson has been with the Bluebirds since 2011 and has notched up 250 appearances for the club across all competitions.
Known for his ability to break up play in the midfield with smart interceptions and tackles, the tough-tackling midfielder featured just 20 times for Cardiff this past season, bagging a solitary goal and an assist.
A seasoned veteran, Gunnarsson has appeared in over 300 games in the English second division with Cardiff and Coventry City. And it goes without saying that the Icelandic international would be a great addition for Cottagers, given his wealth of experience and knowledge.