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30 cost-effective xGOLD alternatives to the 10 World Cup stars who saw their value increase in Qatar(1)

20 cost-effective xGOLD alternatives to the 10 FIFA World Cup stars who saw their value increase in Qatar – data analysis

The 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar ended almost exactly one month ago, with the victory on penalties for the Argentine team led by Lionel Scaloni, with excellent performances from multiple players, especially Lionel Messi, in order to win their third title as a national team, this time against a France that had a Kylian Mbappé at a totally fascinating level.

As in all previous tournaments, the World Cup is synonymous with a number of players, some known and others unknown, standing out in the largest and most watched tournament in the world and in the history of the sport. Names like Sofyan Amrabat, Dominik Livakovic or Azzedine Ounahi are great examples of these types of names that stand out in the competition, being unknown to many fans prior to the tournament.

The markets after the World Cup have always been very busy with these players who did really well in the tournament. James Rodríguez is possibly the best example of what we are explaining. Given the great increase in value of many of these players, we have prepared a data analysis, using our xGOLD tool and statistics, to find low-cost alternatives to them, which have already attracted attention in the transfer market due to their exorbitant prices, that reached a high rank after their good performances.

The 20 alternatives to the World Cup superstars that saw their value increase greatly

Enzo Fernández

Being one of the main reasons for the achievement of the Argentine title, Enzo is characterized by being a very brave defensive midfielder, with great timing to make tackles and great pressure intensity. In addition, what he offers technically to hold the ball, combined with his high range of passes, which travel at high speed from his foot, and can be long or low, makes him an amazing talent.

Enzo Fernández was probably the footballer who, with his excellent performance in the World Cup, saw his market value grow so sporadically and so high, reaching around 55 million euros according to Transfermarkt. He is very close to being signed by Chelsea, for an extremely high amount that reaches 130 million euros, a little more than what his release clause was worth.

However, the Argentine arrived at the tournament being one of the best footballers in the Portuguese championship, automatically fitting into Benfica as soon as he arrived from River Plate. He has played 2,118 minutes, including UEFA Champions League games where he stood out in a great way. Given a growth of more than 275% in terms of his Transfermarkt value before his performance in the World Cup, which was above 20 million euros, we looked for two/three alternatives among different lower-ranking leagues, which have players similar to a better and lower price.

1 – Juan Sforza

To find a replacement for Enzo Fernández, you had to look at his homeland, Argentina. Juan Sforza is a deep-lying-playmaker who stands out for his ability with the ball, which allows him to connect with great vision and speed with teammates and to find the best passing option, usually progressive/between the lines. In addition, he is a midfielder with a good defensive balance, who brings intensity to each of his duels.

At just 20 years old, he has already accumulated a lot of regularity in a team like Newells, from the Argentine first division. However, he has had to experience constant bad spells for his team and changes in coaches that have given the club an irregular status, but in the same way, the boy born in Rosario has been able to show all his talent to be seen by huge clubs all over the world, especially in Europe.

30 cost-effective xGOLD alternatives to the 10 World Cup stars who saw their value increase in Qatar

The data showed greatest similarities are found in the defensive aspect, where Sforza has been slightly better within the context of the Argentine League; While Enzo, in a much superior and better collective context than Juan Sforza lives in Newells, far surpasses him in terms of attack and contribution to possession. Likewise, the 20-year-old’s search to orchestrate his team’s possessions with great effectivity is a standout thing to watch, as he’s doing this even on a team living through such poor times.

With things to improve, he has a game style that is very similar to Enzo Fernández. The xGOLD gave us results of 90% statistical similarity. Sforza has a Transfermarkt value of 3.5 million, with his contract ending in December 2023.

2 – Salvatore Esposito

Moving towards the second option, we find the eldest of the Esposito brothers, Salvatore. A midfielder with incredible technical abilities. Currently playing at SPAL in Serie B led by former player Daniele de Rossi, they are also experiencing an irregular moment in the competition, but it has not been a blow for Salvatore who has been, far and above, one of the best players in the league. His abilities to speed up possessions and retain the ball are extremely interesting, which led him to debut with the Italian first team in the UEFA Nations League, something amazing for a footballer who plays week after week in Serie B.

He has accumulated more than 1,600 minutes in the season and his actual market value is a mere 3.5 million euros. More than 50 million euros below Fernández.

30 cost-effective xGOLD alternatives to the 10 World Cup stars who saw their value increase in Qatar

They are highly similar players since xGOLD first showed us an incredible 90% similarity as well, but if we look at their comparative radar, we can find a very similar profile when both attacking and in possession. They seek to be aggressive when they have the ball, trying to progress with their passes but also being self-sufficient with their dribbling and with the courage to go for the shot.

3 – Christos Zafeiris

At only 19 years old, Christos Zafeiris is the youngest, cheapest and similar player according to xGOLD (with a 91% similarity) to Enzo Fernández. His quality in the pass, both long activating in-behind runs, and low to combine quickly, in addition to his low centre of gravity that allows him to hide the ball and retain it with several touches as Fernández does, makes him a footballer that is too fun to watch, and the most important for his team, Haugesund.

Defensively, he displays a high-level intensity, both to return in transitions, which he manages very intelligently and to press high and close to the opponent, trying to steal the ball and attack quickly.

With a market value of just 1.5 million euros, Zafeiris has scored 5 goals and provided 5 assists in over 2,600 minutes, in a team that finished 10th in the league. As we can see in their comparative radar, it totally confirms the similarities in their gameplay, not only visually but also statistically. The duo are almost identical in every metric that we evaluate them.

30 cost-effective xGOLD alternatives to the 10 World Cup stars who saw their value increase in Qatar

Sofyan Amrabat

Morocco and their historical run was one of the most talked about topics during the World Cup. Within the national team, the one who provided the perfect defensive balance in addition to certain progressions when his team needed him from behind to break pressure was the 26-year-old player of Fiorentina, Sofyan Amrabat.

Being one of the best players in the tournament, he made him see his market value rise by 250% compared to his last price, rising from 10 million euros to 25 million. A really high price and surely many teams will seek to pay more for what their team asks for the excellent defensive midfielder.

4 – Liam Gibbs

His impact at Norwich City at just 19 years old has been truly positive, praised by the team’s community and even by his former manager Dean Smith. At his age, he has fit into the team playing more than 700 minutes, being a fairly complete player in both phases playing in the midfield for the ‘Canaries’.

Standing out in the Championship at this age, in a position as difficult as a defensive midfielder is absolutely not easy for anyone. This is what makes what Gibbs is currently doing in England’s second-tier special. With a market value of 1 million euros, he is an excellent option for clubs that want to look for alternatives before many do.

xGOLD registered a similarity between the two of 89% and it can be noted on the radar where Gibbs and Sofyan Amrabat are almost identical in all aspects to be compared, in addition to a slight improvement of the English footballer in several of these metrics, especially in passing.

30 cost-effective xGOLD alternatives to the 10 World Cup stars who saw their value increase in Qatar

5 – Maxime López

Maxime López has lived a rather strange career. Close to leaving Marseille in the past for Barcelona, his form was declining year by year, but things have seemed to work out at 25 years of age within the context of Sassuolo, where he has proven to dominate the midfield and tempo his team the way he likes the most. His passing ability is still intact and he has been improving in certain aspects that he should have, which makes him a very interesting player.

Compared to Amrabat, the Frenchman’s value is worth 10 million less. With similar profiles, López is vastly superior to the Moroccan in how they handle their team’s possessions and in the technique they use in their passing. However, defensively they are close, but the Fiorentina player is better between the two.

xGOLD gives us a similarity of 89% between them.

30 cost-effective xGOLD alternatives to the 10 World Cup stars who saw their value increase in Qatar

Dominik Livakovic

The hero of Croatia in Qatar, beyond Josko Gvardiol or Luka Modric’s incredible performances, was Dominik Livakovic. His saves, performances in penalty shootouts and attitude on the field gave the Croatian team extra motivation from the goal. With little offensive use with his feet, the Dinamo Zagreb goalkeeper is more of a shot-stopper with excellent reflexes and a rather top stretch, which could be seen in many of his actions. His market value rose by 164%, after reaching 14 million euros.

6 – Bilal Bayazit

At 23 years old, the Turkish-Dutch goalkeeper has been one of the revelations of the championship after his great performance preventing goals, with a positive statistic of 1.25 this season, as well as being a player who is asked for offensive responsibilities and has performed well with quite effective and a brave mentality to progress between the lines. He can add both the confidence in the goal to clear away shots and the ability for him to contribute to his team’s possession.

His market value is only 800,000 euros, and he would be a very interesting addition for any team looking to sign on a low-cost budget a goalkeeper who has been growing within his abilities and weaknesses quite well lately.

xGOLD shows a similarity of 88% between the two.

30 cost-effective xGOLD alternatives to the 10 World Cup stars who saw their value increase in Qatar

7 – Alexander Schlager

Despite the fact that he is not one of the youngest on the shortlist, being 26, Alexander Schlager shows a fairly similar profile and is very low in terms of price compared to Livakovic, at only 1 million euros. Also, his contract expires in the summer and he will leave LASK, his team, “for free.” He is a goalkeeper who has shown great skills with his shot-stopping, but also with his feet, which brings something more than can be expected from the Croatian goalkeeper on the offensive side. He’s also very proactive to come off his line looking for the ball, clearing it away or receiving it and then passing the ball forward again.

xGOLD showed a similarity of 88% between both of them.

30 cost-effective xGOLD alternatives to the 10 World Cup stars who saw their value increase in Qatar

Andries Noppert

Again, a goalkeeper appears in our search for alternatives, Andries Noppert was a truly special player for the Netherlands. Faced with doubts about who was going to be the goalkeeper, he offered a lot of security under the three posts on his line, but also an offensive responsibility that he more than fulfilled, since he has a fairly positive and broad technical command of the ball, as was to be expected in a Dutch side.

Unlike Livakovic in this regard, at 28 years old, the SC Heerenveen player lived a great World Cup, and saw his market value rise by 500%, going from 1 million to 5 million euros.

8 – Lucas Lund

At 22, Lucas Lund Pedersen is probably one of the top three goalkeepers in Denmark. Currently playing for Viborg, he shows a fairly good and effective offensive profile from his passes, which he also carries with great dynamics to how strong and sure he is with his shot-stopping. He doubles in prevented goals, which Noppert has done in the Eredivisie, with the Dane having a statistic close to 5 goals prevented this season.

His market value is only 700,000 euros. Also, his contract will expire in December 2023. The xGOLD showed us a similarity of 85% between them.

30 cost-effective xGOLD alternatives to the 10 World Cup stars who saw their value increase in Qatar

9 – Leopold Wahlstedt

Another option in Scandinavia, in this case in Norway, is the Odds goalkeeper, Leopold Wahlstedt, 23, who has a market value of barely 600,000 euros and has shown excellent performances. He still has a lot of room to grow, but with a profile modern enough to get off your line and contribute passes to your team’s possession. However, he has shown good reflexes and actions within his shot-stopping, but it’s clearly the thing to get better inside his game.

The xGOLD dictated a similarity of 87% between Noppert and Wahlstedt.

30 cost-effective xGOLD alternatives to the 10 World Cup stars who saw their value increase in Qatar

10 – Arijanet Muric

Vincent Kompany knew about the skills of his starting goalkeeper Arijanet Muric since he was at Manchester City. His arrival at Burnley was purely a request from the former Belgian central defender, who has created a fairly positional and offensive environment within the team that today plays in the English Championship.

The Kosovar player is one of the best goalkeepers in the league thanks to his incredible saves that have kept goals out a total of 9 times this season, as well as being totally safe with the ball at his feet, contributing a lot to what Kompany wants, creating plays from deep.

His market value of him is barely 4 million euros but it will surely increase quickly. The xGOLD dictated a 90% similarity between the Burnley goalkeeper and Noppert.

30 cost-effective xGOLD alternatives to the 10 World Cup stars who saw their value increase in Qatar

Goncalo Ramos

He had to replace one of the best players in history when things started to go very strangely for Portugal, and he did it in a fabulous way, scoring a hat-trick that dazzled many. Those who see him in Benfica are used to it. Goncalo is a striker who is used to playing in the middle, receiving few passes but with excellent and intelligent movements inside the opponent’s box.

11 – Nikola Stulic

The Radnicki Nis Serbian forward is an excellent, similar and cheap option compared to Goncalo Ramos. He is an extremely tall player, with a powerful physique that helps him to be a target man with good hold-up play to find players up front or receive long balls from his teammates. He barely has a market value of €1.50m and has scored 12 goals in 23 games in all competitions this season.

xGOLD shows a similarity of 83% between them.

30 cost-effective xGOLD alternatives to the 10 World Cup stars who saw their value increase in Qatar

12 – Cedric Itten

After passing through Rangers, Cedric Itten, at the age of 25, returned to his native Switzerland with BSC Young Boys, with whom he has enjoyed an excellent season, scoring 7 goals and providing 9 assists. His market value is barely 2 million euros and surely many top-level teams will be aware of what will happen to his career.

xGOLD showed 87% similarity between the Swiss and Goncalo Ramos. In addition to quite similar profiles on the radar, the difference is that Itten can be even more dangerous with the ball at his feet and more associative than the Portuguese.

30 cost-effective xGOLD alternatives to the 10 World Cup stars who saw their value increase in Qatar

Alexis Mac Allister

Just as Enzo Fernández was crucial for Argentina’s third world title, so was the Brighton player who has evolved from being a simple attacking midfielder to fulfilling responsibilities in different roles where he shows excellent cognitive, technical and defensive abilities, something that Brighton has contributed a lot to his growth as a footballer in recent years. His value upgraded from 25 million up to 42 million euros at this moment.

13 – Emil Breivik

Norway is the cradle of progressive midfielders, very talented young players and extremely offensive and defensively intense football that provides their players with a very interesting profile to be potential signings in different top clubs in Europe. Emil Breivik is one of these examples, being a fairly dynamic midfielder in Molde, at the age of 22, who barely has a market value of 2 million euros and demonstrates both technical and defensive capabilities that are very positive and close to what Mac Allister did both in the World Cup and in his club constantly.

xGOLD showed a similarity of up to 88% between them.

30 cost-effective xGOLD alternatives to the 10 World Cup stars who saw their value increase in Qatar

14 – Enzo Le Fée

Although not one of the cheapest options, Enzo Le Fée has had a marvellous season with Lorient, who have surprised many in France with their excellent collective performances and with extremely talented young individual pieces, such as Enzo.

A midfielder of pure elegance and class, with simple, quick touches between the lines that penetrate teams which are both disorderly and highly organised defensively. He is 22 years old and it is already known that he is on the Liverpool scouting list, and that they are looking for a midfielder like him technically, who also shows good signs on the defensive side.

His value has evolved throughout the season from 6 to 12 million euros recently, however, is cheaper than Mac Allister would be for any side.

xGOLD showed an 89% similarity.

30 cost-effective xGOLD alternatives to the 10 World Cup stars who saw their value increase in Qatar

Mohammed Kudus

Beyond the fact that Ghana could not qualify for the next phase, Mohammed Kudus was one of the most exciting players of the tournament with his goals and movements without and with the ball, which are endowed with great technique by the Ghanaian trained in Nordsjaelland who now competes in the Eredivisie in the most important club in the history of that country, such as Ajax.

Considering his 5 million plus price hike on Transfermarkt stock, plus how Ajax sells off their young talents, it’s expected that he’s a highly expensive footballer.

15 – Tim Iroegbunam

Although it is not yet known exactly what position Kudus plays, he is a footballer with offensive characteristics and a lot of technique, with elegant touches on the ball and dynamic twists at the waist, plus explosive runs that are very difficult for any player looking to defend him.

Tim Iroegbunam, the Aston Villa player is living a great moment in the English Championship on loan at Queens Park Rangers. There, he normally plays as the most offensive midfielder and has done it in a great way, one that is reminiscent of Kudus’ style of play. He has played more than 1,300 minutes and his Transfermarkt value is just 3 million euros. However, it could change quickly being an English player with chances of playing in the Premier League.

xGOLD similarity went up to 86% between Kudus and Iroegbunam.

30 cost-effective xGOLD alternatives to the 10 World Cup stars who saw their value increase in Qatar

16 – Iliman Ndiaye

Iliman Ndiaye’s life changed radically when Sheffield United signed him in 2019 when he was playing in the fifth division of England at Boreham Wood. The French-Senegalese three years later is having an incredible season as the fairly mobile striker/attacking midfielder of the team in the Championship. He has scored 9 goals and 7 assists in 25 games at only 22 years old.

With a market value of 7 million Euros, Ndiaye is more than an interesting player with great abilities in front of the goal to finish plays, but also outside this zone to join and combine with teammates due to his technique and intelligence with the ball. just as Kudus has shown. Statistically, they are extremely similar as well, with an 88% similarity between the two in our tool, xGOLD.

30 cost-effective xGOLD alternatives to the 10 World Cup stars who saw their value increase in Qatar

Randal Kolo Muani

Randal Kolo Muani surprised France by coming off the bench, as he did in the final against Argentina, but also in previous matches where he showed his explosiveness and ability to reach the rival goal in a few seconds with his good finishing and footwork/ball-control in the run, as well as his intelligence to go behind and movements inside the box. His move at Eintracht Frankfurt has started in a great way and many clubs are already looking for him from all over the world, Manchester United among them.

His value increased from 20 to almost 40 million euros in this section of the World Cup in Qatar.

17 – Konan N’Dri

Konan N’Dri is a very interesting striker, with a slightly different physique from Kolo Muani, at least physically, but that doesn’t stop him from being just as aggressive with and without the ball to attack spaces. He has registered 5 goals and 2 assists this season, with skills to play also as a winger just like Randal. He has been statistically extremely similar to the Frankfurt player, and even better in the self-sufficiency of creating shots. NDri’s Transfermarkt value is only 1 million euros.

xGOLD showed similarities of 87% between them.

30 cost-effective xGOLD alternatives to the 10 World Cup stars who saw their value increase in Qatar(1)

18 – Brandon Thomas-Asante

Brandon Thomas-Asante has proven to be a player with an aggressiveness very similar to what Kolo Muani offers. Both positionally in his search for the ball to later finish off and to assist. He is a very fast player with his in-behind moves and creates shooting angles extremely quickly. He takes high-powered shots and his physique is really strong compared to other players.

He has just this season been signed by West Bromwich at 24 years of age from League Two Salford and he has scored 5 goals in more than 800 minutes with the Baggies. His value is around 800,000 euros.

xGOLD showed an 89% similarity between the two.

30 cost-effective xGOLD alternatives to the 10 World Cup stars who saw their value increase in Qatar(1)

Azzedine Ounahi

Living in an Angers that occupies the last place in Ligue 1, Azzedine Ounahi was not even under the attention of Luis Enrique, who after the elimination of Spain applauded the effort and courage of the midfielder with whom he played that game. However, it was not only in that match but in the entire tournament which he stood out thanks to his intensity, quality in passing the ball and reaching the penalty area.

Before the start of the World Cup, his value was only 3.5 million, recently reaching 15, and being valued by Angers at 35 million after the interest of Leicester City.

19 – Bilal Brahimi

Bilal Brahimi is a promising player in Ligue 2, who at the age of 22 is in control of SM Caen’s possession due to the ability in his left leg, with which he shows a technique for launching passes into space, holding the ball, accelerating attacks with 1-2 plays and fast combinations in tight spaces. The French-Moroccan is a player extremely similar to Ounahi who has a market value of 800,000 euros, currently playing in Ligue 2.

xGOLD showed a similarity of 87% between Ounahi and Bilal.

30 cost-effective xGOLD alternatives to the 10 World Cup stars who saw their value increase in Qatar(1)

20 – Nicolas Raskin

In the last player of this analysis, despite not being the cheapest, with a market value of 7 million, he is a player whose contract expires in 2023 and has commented on his desire to want to leave Standard Liege at this time. The 21-year-old midfielder has a low centre of gravity, with a powerful lower body that allows him to break free of tight spaces at high speed.

He has elite decision-making, usually passing into the box, and he also likes to drive to the last third. However, when he orchestrates plays from behind, he is also a fabulous and intelligent footballer for it. Defensively, his intensity is the correct one and similar to what we saw from Ounahi with Morocco.

xGOLD showed a similarity of 90%.

30 cost-effective xGOLD alternatives to the 10 World Cup stars who saw their value increase in Qatar(1)


With the January market looming, the teams will seek to sign these players who have already made a famous name after the World Cup. However, other teams with different budgets should try to find alternatives to these stars, like the ones on our list. Players like Emil Breivik, Lucas Lund, Christos Zafeiris, and Juan Sforza are really interesting options to see in Europe at a high level. However, there are multiple players that are undervalued, which could be even better than some of the players that stood out in the World Cup.