For many, the World Cup is a time to enjoy seeing some of the very best footballers in the world going head to head against each other. However, for clubs who play in the Championship like Birmingham, it is often the lesser known teams and players that are worth focusing on. Should any of these players have a good tournament, their names will be banded around as potential signings, and by targeting the bottom tier of players, Birmingham should be able to swoop and not get outbid by a Premier League team.
One player who has already stood out for a small nation at this summer’s World Cup is Yasir Al-Shahrani, who played in the opening game of the tournament for Saudi Arabia. It may be strange pinpointing a defender who was on the receiving end of a 5-0 loss at the World Cup, but it was his play going forward that caught the eye. He plays in his home country, and the bigger clubs will be looking elsewhere. Whether or not Birmingham are interested in him is unknown, but he is the type of player that fans and the club should be looking at and following closely, because if they do sign someone from the World Cup, it is going to be someone like him.
The 5-0 loss to Russia is certainly not going to be a career highlight for Al-Shahrani, but it is a performance that people will have seen and enjoyed, despite his team struggling defensively. This is something to factor in when watching players like this, if a player is surrounded by poor players and stands out, he is usually someone worth keeping an eye on.
The World Cup started with Germany and Brazil vying for favouritism according to the odds compiled by Oddschecker. These are the teams everyone wants to watch, but from a scouting point of view, they are no use to teams like Birmingham. Instead, the Blues should look towards the bottom end of the teams taking part this summer and try to find themselves a bargain.
There are players out there who will do well at the World Cup, and these players are going to be hot property after the tournament in the transfer market. The key for Championship clubs is to identify those who have played well, but not set their sights too high, only to then be outbid by those playing in better leagues around Europe.