The surprise stars of the World Cup

July 7, 2014

James Rodríguez

Without doubt the surprise star of the tournament, and possibly even the best performer of the whole World Cup, is young Colombian James Rodríguez. After an unspectacular season at Monaco very few people expected the 22-year-old to pull up any trees in Brazil, but with five goals in Colombia's impressive run to the quarter finals, Rodríguez has a good chance of winning the Golden Boot in his very first World Cup.

Ahmed Musa

Although Nigeria were knocked out in the round of 16, 21-year-old Ahmed Musa had more than enough time to make a big impression on the World Cup. The CSKA Moscow player impressed throughout the tournament, torturing defenders with his electric pace. But his crowning glory came in Nigeria's group match with Argentina, when he became the first ever Nigerian to score two goals in a single World Cup match.

Guillermo Ochoa

The goalkeeper wasn't even guaranteed his place in Mexico's starting line-up going into the tournament, but ever since he got the nod in the opening game against Cameroon, he more than rewarded his coach's faith in him. A heroic clean sheet against hosts Brazil caught the eye, and Mexico were minutes from progressing to the quarter finals after Ochoa had pulled off a string of impressive saves against the Netherlands, only for him to be beaten by two quick goals at the death. Currently without a club, there'll be no shortage of suiters from European clubs.

Enner Valencia

If the World Cup is the ultimate shop window, Ecuador striker Enner Valencia has put himself front and centre. The 24-year-old currently plays his club football at Mexican side Pachuca, but an eye-catching performance at the World Cup has seen him show up on the radar of Premier League clubs including Tottenham and West Ham. Although Ecuador were knocked out in the group stage, Valencia was able to register three times, making himself the only scorer for his country in the tournament.

Daley Blind

The son of former Dutch international Danny Blind, we should have guessed that 24-year-old Daley would have the pedigree to impress at this year's World Cup. The Ajax defender has been a mainstay in an impressive Netherlands team that has swept past all before them on the way to a semi final spot. He even contributed to the team's attacking threat, providing two assists in the 5-1 hammering of Spain.

Joel Campbell

It's not often we'd have an Arsenal player on a list of relative unknowns, but although he's been with the club since 2011, Costa Rica striker Joel Campbell has never made a first-team appearance for the Gunners. Instead he's been farmed out on loan to Lorient, Real Betis and Olympiacos. But some strong performances in an overachieving Costa Rica side that was knocked out on penalties in the quarter finals has seen Campbell become the subject of plenty of interest from the Premier League, so Mr Wenger may well be forced to either play him or risk losing him for good.