So you’ve watched the World Cup, enjoyed it, and want to start watching your favorite players from the competition year round. Maybe you even want to pick a European club team to support. If this is you, we can help.
Here’s some of the best players from this World Cup and a bit more about where they play their club soccer year-round.
Paul Pogba, France — Manchester United
This comes with a caveat — Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has not figured out how to get the best out of Pogba yet. He just hasn’t looked as good for United as he has for France. That could change at any time, because Pogba is a good player and Mourinho is a good coach, but just a heads up.
Also on Manchester United: Romelu Lukaku of Belgium, Jesse Lingard of England, and David De Gea of Spain, among other bit part players from this World Cup that you might recognize.
Luka Modric, Croatia — Real Madrid
The World Cup Golden Ball winner has won the last three Champions League titles as a member of Real Madrid, but they’ve struggled to win the La Liga crown in Spain during the same timeframe. Modric is joined by a giant group of superstars, and their ranks are likely to grow before the transfer window closes in August, since they just sold Cristiano Ronaldo.
Kylian Mbappe, France — PSG
We think Mbappe will play for Paris Saint-Germain, at least. Last summer, PSG acquired Mbappe from Monaco for a €20 million loan fee, with an obligation to buy him for €180 million. But PSG is in some hot water with UEFA’s Financial Fair Play rules, and probably needs to ditch one of Mbappe or Brazil superstar Neymar to comply. At the very least, they’ll have to sell Uruguay star Edinson Cavani and a couple other popular players. If you see those three together this year, it’s a miracle ... or PSG is just daring UEFA not to ban them from Champions League.
Philippe Coutinho, Brazil — Barcelona
Even if you don’t follow the club game, we’re guessing you already knew that Lionel Messi plays for Barcelona. He’s joined by the likes of Croatia’s Ivan Rakitic, France’s Ousmane Dembele, Uruguay’s Luis Suarez, and Coutinho, who was probably Brazil’s most consistent performer at this World Cup. He’ll be entering his first full year with the Blaugrana and will be expected to replace a Barca legend, Spain’s Andres Iniesta. No pressure.
Kevin De Bruyne, Belgium — Manchester City
A dark horse for the end of year awards that take club and international play into account, De Bruyne is the man running the show in the middle for England’s best club team. It doesn’t hurt that he has players like Brazil’s Gabriel Jesus and England’s Raheem Sterling to pass to.
Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal — Juventus
If you’re more of a Ronaldo fan than a fan of any of his teams, you have a new team to watch! Ronaldo was sold to Juventus after Portugal’s elimination from the World Cup, and he’ll try to help them finally win Champions League after capturing seven straight Serie A titles. He’s joined by players like Paulo Dybala of Argentina, Juan Cuadrado of Colombia, and Mario Mandzukic of Croatia.
Ivan Perisic, Croatia — Inter Milan
Once one of Europe’s top teams, Inter has fallen off in the last decade, but they finally return to the UEFA Champions League this season. Success in that competition will depend heavily on their ability to keep Ivan Perisic from leaving during the transfer window. If he sticks around, he’ll be playing with his Croatia teammate Marcelo Brozovic and Mauro Icardi, who should have been banging in goals for Argentina. Icardi wasn’t in the team because he started dating his now-wife when she was married to one of Lionel Messi’s best friends, and that got him exiled from the Argentina squad. I swear to god I’m not making this up.
James Rodriguez, Colombia — Bayern Munich
James had a tough time at Real Madrid, but he’s reinvented himself since moving to Germany and is now one of the Bundesliga’s best players. He’s surrounded by most of the German national team, as well as stars like Spain’s Thiago Alcantara, France’s Corentin Tolisso and Poland’s Robert Lewandowski.
Eden Hazard, Belgium — Chelsea
We think so, at least. Hazard and his Belgium teammate, goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, are both contracted to Chelsea at the moment, but subject to serious interest from Real Madrid. It’s hard to see the Blues selling them for less than several hundred million dollars, but it’s not impossible that they depart. If they stick around London, they’ll be playing with France starters N’Golo Kante and Olivier Giroud, Nigeria’s Victor Moses and Spain’s Cesar Azpilicueta.
Denis Cheryshev, Russia — Villarreal
So you’re not sure about this big club stuff, and want to get into a hipster team. How about Villarreal? The club side of Russia star Denis Cheryshev is always competing for a top four spot in La Liga, but no one’s ever going to call you a front-runner for picking them. Cheryshev will soon be joined by Mexico’s Miguel Layun, who just signed for the club.
Hirving Lozano, Mexico — PSV Eindhoven... maybe?
If you loved watching Chucky, you’re going to have to wait and see where he ends up. He’s on the books at Dutch team PSV Eindhoven, but they’ll probably want to cash in while interest in Lozano is at its peak. He’s been linked to teams like Madrid and Barca, but he likely knows that he won’t get a lot of playing time there. Expect him to jump to one of the German clubs in European competition like Dortmund, Schalke, Leverkusen, Hoffenheim or RB Leipzig.
A bunch of your England favs — Tottenham Hotspur
Harry Kane, Dele Alli, Kieran Trippier, Eric Dier and Danny Rose all play together for Spurs. They’re joined by France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, Denmark’s Christian Eriksen, and three Belgium players — Jan Vertonghen, Toby Alderwiereld, and Mousa Dembele.
Uruguay’s defense — Atlético Madrid
Picking the team because you liked an attacking player isn’t cool. You like defense, because you’re a contrarian who likes making their friends miserable. So why not Atlético Madrid? Uruguay’s starting central defense partnership, Diego Godin and Jose Gimenez, play together for Atléti. Their sensational defense also includes France’s Lucas Hernandez and Croatia’s Sime Vrsaljko. Arguably, the World Cup Best XI back line was just Atléti’s back line.