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10 unheralded players who have stepped up at the World Cup

June 30, 2014 11:03 IST

10 unheralded players who have stepped up at the World Cup

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Luis Suarez left in disgrace while Neymar and Lionel Messi have risen to the occasion as expected, but less stellar names have also stood out in the World Cup group stages to arouse the interest of Europe's big clubs.

Here are some of those players who have seized the opportunity in Brazil to put themselves firmly on the radar as transfer targets in the weeks and months ahead.

Guillermo Ochoa (Mexico)

The youngest, at 28, of Mexico's three goalies but the most capped and with reason. 'Memo' kept clean sheets against Cameroon and, more impressively, Brazil. One of the saves, a dramatic dive to the right, that denied Neymar against the host nation was compared by no less a figure than Pele to Gordon Banks' great 1970 leap against Brazil.

-Roundup: Dutch, Costa Rica through after nerve-wracking drama

Has spent three years at AC Ajaccio in France but is now listed as a free agent. His brilliant showing in the last 16 match against the Netherlands which almost saw the Mexicans go through will sure not go unnoticed.

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Image: Mexico's goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa saves a goal shot by Klaas-Jan Huntelaar of the Netherlands
Photographs: Mike Blake/Reuters

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Enner Valencia (Ecuador)

The 25-year-old scored three goals in three games in Brazil and looked much sharper than compatriot and Manchester United winger Antonio Valencia. Only came into the squad last year but described by coach Reinaldo Rueda as a gift from God.

The Pachuca player had form already as the Mexican league's top scorer. Sure to feature on a lot of European clubs' lists now and a big money offer could be too much for Pachuca to resist.

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Image: Enner Valencia of Ecuador celebrates scoring
Photographs: Jamie Squire/Getty Images

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Divock Origi (Belgium)

As Belgian coach Marc Wilmots said after his late goal in the 1-0 win over Russia: "No-one knew who he was before, everyone knows who he is now." The youngest player (19) to score at Brazil 2014 was a surprise selection but now looks a natural in the squad after three appearances as a substitute.

He plays for French club Lille but Premier League interest already evident.

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Image: Divock Origi of Belgium celebrates scoring with Eden Hazard
Photographs: Jamie Squire/Getty Images

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Matt Besler (United States)

Something of a late developer at 27, the psychology graduate made his international debut last year and is now a key defender in a free-flowing U.S. team. Stood out in the 2-2 draw with Portugal and started all three group games. Linked to Premier League in the past, contracted to Sporting Kansas City.

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Image: United States forward Aron Johannsson (9) celebrates with defender Matt Besler (5)
Photographs: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

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Juan Carlos Paredes (Ecuador)

Defender with Ecuador's Barcelona, the 26-year-old 'Ant' has been busy burnishing his reputation in Brazil with some solid performances. Has been linked in the past with a move to Serie A, most recently with English Championship (second tier) Watford. Could yet attract a bigger club.

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Image: Juan Carlos Paredes of Ecuador
Photographs: Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

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Memphis Depay (Netherlands)

Precocious 20-year-old PSV Eindhoven forward whose father is from Ghana. Scored twice in the group stages, including the winner against Australia. Very much a star of the future and already talked of as someone who could accompany Dutch coach Louis van Gaal to Manchester United despite long-term contract with his current club.

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Image: Memphis Depay of the Netherlands acknowledges the fans
Photographs: Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

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Ahmed Musa (Nigeria)

Currently with CSKA Moscow, after a stint at VVV Venlo in the Netherlands, but surely destined for a bigger stage. Still only 21, the speedy winger has been a key factor in steering his country through to the second round for the first time since 1998. Stand-out performance with two goals against Messi's Argentina in their final Group F game.

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Image: Ahmed Musa of Nigeria celebrates
Photographs: Jeff Gross/Getty Images

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Serge Aurier (Ivory Coast)

Brought up in France and currently with Toulouse in Ligue One, the 21-year-old right back has been linked to Arsenal in the British media. Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, who is in Brazil, needs a replacement for Bacary Sagna and Aurier's performances will have done him no harm. Other Premier League clubs may also now be interested.

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Image: Serge Aurier of the Ivory Coast looks on
Photographs: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

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Juan Cuadrado (Colombia)

Pacey midfielder who already plays for Fiorentina in Serie A, so not exactly an unknown. His performances in Brazil could now attract wider interest with Arsenal reportedly taking a close look as well as clubs in Germany and Spain.

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Image: Juan Guillermo Cuadrado of Colombia shoots and scores
Photographs: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

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Joel Campbell (Costa Rica)

Signed for Arsenal in 2011 but has been out on loan ever since in France, Spain and currently Greece. Already caught the eye in the Champions league when he scored for Olympiakos against Manchester United. Will return to London for the pre-season but another European loan move cannot be ruled out with AC Milan said to be interested.


Image: Costa Rica's Joel Campbell celebrates with the match ball
Photographs: Dominic Ebenbichler/Reuters

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