Every World Cup has a breakout star or two, and 2022’s iteration was no exception.
Plenty of players from across the globe took the opportunity to strut their stuff on the biggest stage, and those once-unknown talents have exploded into household names – the kind who find themselves in the rumour mill, more often than not.
While this tournament may always be remembered in the careers of Josko Gvardiol, Cody Gakpo and Enzo Fernandez, that’s not the kind of breakout star we’re looking at here. If you were linked with a £50m+ transfer to an elite side before the World Cup, you’ve already done your breaking out.
Here are 10 actual breakout stars from the 2022 World Cup.
If there’s one way to announce yourself, it’s by replacing Cristiano Ronaldo and scoring a hat-trick at the World Cup.
There was some interest in Ramos earlier in the summer but most top clubs weren’t taking too close of a look at the Benfica striker, who bagged three goals on his first international start in the 6-1 win over Switzerland for which Ronaldo was benched.
If there was interest in him before, expect that to double now.
Ajax rarely miss when it comes to signing lesser-known talents, and the next gem to earn himself a big-money move overseas could be Ghanaian midfielder Mohammed Kudus.
Playing in an attacking role, Kudus bagged two goals in three games for Ghana, providing one of the shining lights in a short-lived campaign.
90min understands there is plenty of interest in Kudus from the Premier League and across Europe.
Can you be a breakout star at 28 years old?
Not only was Heerenveen stopper Andries Noppert a surprise inclusion in the Netherlands squad, but the decision to actually start him in all five games was a massive risk from Louis van Gaal that undeniably paid off.
The towering goalkeeper impressed on his side’s run to the quarter-final and few will be surprised to see him starting on the international stage for years to come.
Ecuador can count themselves unfortunate not to have made it out of the group stages. They had a number of excellent individual performers, including from right-back Angelo Preciado.
The 24-year-old was a real livewire for his side, chipping in with an assist in the opening-night victory over hosts Qatar.
Preciado left his homeland for Belgian side Genk in 2021 and might be on the move again pretty soon.
Harry Souttar’s sensational World Cup is made even more impressive when you realise that he returned from a long-term knee injury just weeks before the tournament kicked off.
Australia’s centre-back, who has played just once at club level over the past 12 months, looked fitter than ever as he inspired the Socceroos to a shock run to the last 16.
Stoke signed Souttar from Dundee United in 2016 and he has been a regular in the second tier, but based off this showing, it won’t be long until he’s trying his hand in a top league.
As the man who scored that goal against Argentina, Salem Al-Dawsari will forever be remembered as an icon of Saudi Arabian football.
The 31-year-old winger has spent his entire career in his homeland apart from a bizarre six-month loan with Villarreal in 2018 which yielded just one 33-minute appearance, but there may be suitors from Europe lining up for him this summer.
Al-Dawsari scored two massive goals for his country in Qatar, ensuring fans won’t forget this tournament any time soon.
Perhaps the breakout star of the whole tournament, Morocco midfielder Azzedine Ounahi looked at home among the world’s elite en route to the semi-final.
The 22-year-old joined Angers for pennies in 2021 and arrived in Qatar with his club sitting at the bottom of Ligue 1, but there’s a good chance he won’t end January in that position as teams from across Europe are eyeing him up.
Some scouts were even following Ounahi before his stint in Qatar, but now, every talent spotter on the planet will be looking at him.
Sofyan Amrabat is probably a close second behind only Ounahi when it comes to breakout stars.
The anchor man of Morocco’s midfield, Amrabat enjoyed an elite few months and now both Liverpool and Tottenham are looking at him with a view to a January move.
Some laughed at the €20m Fiorentina paid to sign him in 2020, but you can guarantee they’re about to make a monster profit.
After a few years of flirting with a breakout, it feels as though Giorgian de Arrascaeta may finally have taken his career to the next level.
In a talented Uruguay squad, the 28-year-old managed to make an impression with an impressive cameo against Portugal and a two-goal haul against Ghana, all of which wasn’t enough to lead his nation out of the group stage.
De Arrascaeta is yet to play football in Europe but it feels that may be coming after his impressive few showings.
2022 has been a rip-roaring year for Kaoru Mitoma, who was making a name for himself with Brighton before doubling that momentum by playing a starring role for Japan in their memorable victories over Germany and Spain.
These performances came just a few weeks after Mitoma began to steal the show at club level, terrorising Chelsea in a 4-1 win before scoring in a 3-2 victory over Wolves.
Mitoma joined Brighton for around £2.5m in 2021 and is the latest in a long line of bargain buys from the Seagulls.
Here, have a bonus.
Just four months ago, few outside Moroccan football had any idea who Walid Regragui was. He was a risky appointment by the Africans, but goodness, did that risk pay off.
The 47-year-old masterminded one of the most astonishing runs in recent World Cup memory as he led Morocco to the semi-final, and the 2021/22 African Champions League winner could hardly have boosted his stock higher if he tried.
Born in France, Regragui played in both France and Spain during his playing career and might just be managing in a nation like that soon enough.