Now that the World Cup is over, we have to gather what’s left of our strength and try and push through that marsh of accumulated work we postponed during the previous 30 days. And we have to do it in football deprivation mode: the major leagues are not set to start for a few weeks. In the middle of all this suffering it’s easy to lose perspective, to forget crucial stuff. Don’t worry, we’re here to help. Here are six Latino players you should keep on your radar in the coming months. They were all feature players during the tournament in Brazil and have either secured their spots on their teams or moved on to a new club and a new challenge. One thing is certain: they’ll be Latino Headline-Makers.
1. James Rodríguez
The Colombian top scorer in Brazil, James Rodriguez is set to be a Real Madrid midfielder next season. His dazzling ball-control and his uncanny scoring abilities (remember that goal against Uruguay in the round of 16?) made him a top priority for most of the rich clubs in Europe.
That and his talent for communicating with gigantic insects.
Now it is all a matter of chemistry in a Real Madrid brimming with offensive talent.
2. Alexis Sánchez (Arsenal)
Chilean forward Alexis Sánchez was one of the crucial prongs in Barcelona’s offensive trident. His accurate shot and supreme ball control while out-running defenders were part of what made him vital to the Catalan squad. However, with the possible addition of Luis Suárez to their side, they needed both space in the roster and cash in the bank account. So they sent the self-named “Jugadorazo” to Arsenal. The English side managed to dazzle fans and spectators last season –but was, once again, unable to win the tournament. This time around, they just might make it.
3. Juan Guillermo Cuadrado
Another of Colombia’s stars was speedy winger and currently Fiorentina-player, Juan Guillermo Cuadrado. His runs at the opposing net and his ability to deliver precise passes into the box make him an offensive threat that every manager wants in his arsenal. However, Cuadrado’s future in Italy seems to be coming to an end. It seems that Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Manchester United are vying for his services. A bonus: his ability to choreograph a goal celebration:
4. Keylor Navas
An unlikely breakout star of the 2014 World Cup, the Costar Rican goalie is said to be in negotiations to join Real Madrid for the upcoming season. Already a player in La Liga –he has been defending the Levante goal since 2011– his spectacular abilities are in need of a bigger stage. Whether it is Real Madrid, as Levante’s president seems to suggest, or some other club, Navas is making history for Costa Rica and setting the bar pretty high for his countrymen wanting to follow in his footsteps. Navas’ success has to be credited, in large part, to the acrobatic training regimen he endures everyday.
Whoever gets him in the end should make sure to include his coach Luis Llopis as well.
5. Javier Mascherano
He was the dynamo propelling the Argentinian machine into the Final at Maracana Stadium. He did everything he could to make it impossible for anyone trying to advance through the midfield. He was inspiring and astonishing, all while playing a position that is known for its invisibility, its lack of flair. Mascherano is now firmly established in the Barça backfield. Luis Enrique, the new manager, was right when he made his first order of business to resign this pit bull of a midfielder.
6. Claudio Bravo
The Chilean goalkeeper who used to play with Real Sociedad, is now a Barcelona player. The team built around Messi has now two very powerful goalies to compete for the spot: Bravo and german Marc-André ter Stegen. It will be a great contest to watch.
Maybe the Chilean has an advantage, given that he is also a free-kick specialist:
Way to get more bang out of your buck, Barcelona!