As the competition for the greatest prize in football begins to take shape, one of the big questions is who will emerge as the 'next big thing'. Miller's Jim Rainford looks at what happens when players are thrust into the limelight almost overnight.


So Russia 2018 is up and running and, as the competition for the greatest prize in football begins to take shape, one of the big questions is who will emerge as this year’s James Rodriguez.

Rodriguez, you’ll remember, is the young Columbian who scored five goals in six games four years ago in Brazil to earn himself a big money move to Real Madrid. While it was hardly a rags to riches story -  Rodriguez was already playing in Ligue 1 for Monaco who had paid £38m for him - the move to the Bernabeau was a significant step-up and it was largely thanks to a World Cup that he proved he could cut it on the biggest stage.

Of course, Rodriguez is not alone. Toni Kroos also made the move to Madrid after a successful showing at Brazil 2014, and Paul Pogba – like Kroos already playing at the highest level - underscored his value.

In fact, every World Cup provides a showcase for emerging young talent and it is the prospect of unearthing an uncut diamond that has coaches and directors of football from Europe’s top clubs salivating.

While players like Kroos and Pogba may have sealed their credentials at the World Cup, they were already established as high value commodities. The real excitement for English, Spanish, German, French and Italian clubs is discovering exceptional players whose who have either not previously been on the radar or whose potential becomes a reality in the heat of World Cup battle.

Generally, that means emerging talent from African, Asian and even Eastern European nations where skill levels are high, but the football economy is less developed, allowing top clubs to snap up real bargains while changing the lives of the players concerned.

A big money transfer to a club in one of Europe’s big leagues is a dream for players around the world and it is a game changer on and off the field. Their elevation into – quite literally – a different league makes them a significantly more valuable commodity in terms of transfer values and earnings and that is something which needs to be reflected in the type and level of insurance cover put in place to protect players.

It’s worth remembering here that it is not only on-field earnings that balloon when a young player moves to the big time. The potential for additional earnings through endorsements and image rights also rockets, completely changing the financial picture.

Sadly football is unpredictable and unforgiving and even the most talented youngsters can be hit by an injury or illness which delays, derails or, tragically, even cuts short their career.

Consequently, it’s vital that players who are fast-tracked to the top as a result of their World Cup performances are adequately insured to fit their new financial status. They have worked hard to make it so it is essential that they are fully protected.

So as we look ahead to the rest of what promises to be a fascinating World Cup, the guessing game goes on. Players like Sweden’s Forsburg, Denmark’s Sisto, Werner of Germany and Lozano of Mexico have already been linked with big money moves and it will be fascinating to see what develops. But you can be sure of one thing. Somewhere along the line a previously unknown player will light up the competition and set off a scramble among big clubs eager to sign him.

The question remains: who will it be?

About the author

Jim joined Miller in 2017. He began his insurance career in 2006 and has previously worked for Giles Insurance Brokers and Aon. He specialises in personal accident insurance and football players’ own benefit policies. Jim has spoken at a number of industry events and was recently on a panel for pro-manchester debating the Chinese Football Revolution.