Ranking the Manchester United Players on Their Likely World Cup Impact

Rob Dawson@@RobDawsonMENManchester United CorrespondentMarch 30, 2014

Ranking the Manchester United Players on Their Likely World Cup Impact

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    It is turning into a disastrous season for Manchester United.

    But, for a select few, there will be a chance to salvage something at this summer's World Cup in Brazil.

    Some members of United's squad are guaranteed their place on the plane with their respective countries.

    Others, meanwhile, are still sweating and might yet spend the close season on the beach with their families rather than competing at FIFA's showpiece event.

    With David Moyes planning an overhaul at Old Trafford, the World Cup is a chance for some players to put themselves in the shop window.

    It also provides the last chance for others to play themselves into the United manager's plans.

    Here's a list of 15 United players hoping to go to Brazil this summer, ranked by the impact they could make.

    Weight has been given to whether they are likely to be in their respective starting XIs, how important they are and how well their country is expected to do.

    Feel free to use the comments section below to agree or disagree.

15. David De Gea

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    David De Gea is yet to make his full international debut, yet the 23-year-old is in line to be part of Spain's World Cup squad after Barcelona confirmed Victor Valdes needs surgery following a knee injury.

    But with Iker Casillas and Pepe Reina ahead of him in the pecking order, he might not get the chance to make much of an impact in Brazil.

14. Tom Cleverley

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    Had England's World Cup squad been chosen last summer, chances are Tom Cleverley would have been in it.

    But he has struggled for form this season and is in danger of missing out on a place in Roy Hodgson's 23-man party.

    The 24-year-old still has time to force his way in. But Steven Gerrard, Michael Carrick, Jack Wilshere, Jordan Henderson and Frank Lampard stand in his way.

    He was an unused substitute in England's last friendly against Denmark.

13. Chris Smalling

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    Chris Smalling started England's friendly with Denmark earlier this month.

    But Roy Hodgson is likely to stick with his preferred centre-half pairing of Gary Cahill and Phil Jagielka, providing they're both fit.

    Smalling is likely to be part of the England squad this summer.

    But he's not guaranteed to start in Brazil.

12. Michael Carrick

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    Michael Carrick was part of England's squad for both the 2006 and 2010 World Cups, but his only appearance in the tournament came against Ecuador in the second round of the former.

    He could play a more central role this time if Roy Hodgson chooses to anchor his midfield with Carrick alongside Steven Gerrard.

    And, at 32 years old, it will probably be his last chance to star at a World Cup.

11. Antonio Valencia

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    Drawn in a group with France, Switzerland and Honduras, Antonio Valencia's Ecuador will fancy their chances of progressing to the knock-out rounds.

    And if they are to get out of the group, the 28-year-old United winger will have to play a key part.

    His club form has been mixed this season—it has been for nearly 18 months. 

    But he's got a chance to put that right on the biggest stage this summer.

10. Danny Welbeck

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    Daniel Sturridge is doing his best to play his way into Roy Hodgson's starting XI in Brazil after scoring the goals to fire Liverpool's unlikely title challenge.

    Sturridge is expected to start alongside Wayne Rooney in Brazil, although Danny Welbeck should still be included in England's final 23.

    It will be the 23-year-old's first experience of a World Cup after making his debut at a major championships at Euro 2012.

9. Javier Hernandez

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    Javier Hernandez hasn't had much chance to show what he can do this season.

    He has been used sparingly by David Moyes, but that will change when he joins up with the Mexico squad this summer.

    His strike rate at international level is better than a goal every two games.

    And Mexico will need the 25-year-old to be at his best after being drawn in a group with Brazil, Croatia and Cameroon.

8. Juan Mata

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    Juan Mata has won the European Championships and World Cup with Spain.

    But, after missing out on a place in Spain's squad for the friendly with Italy, he is sweating on his place on the plane for Brazil.

    The 25-year-old has the quality to make his mark at the World Cup. 

    However, with the likes of Pedro, David Silva, Cesc Fabregas, Isco, Andres Iniesta and Koke in his way, he might not get a chance.

7. Nani

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    Nani has missed a huge chunk of the season through injury. But he was an unused substitute against both Manchester City and Aston Villa.

    With more than 70 caps for Portugal, the 27-year-old is likely to go to Brazil this summer.

    Portugal have been handed a tough group with Germany, Ghana and the United States. 

    And while they will rely heavily on Cristiano Ronaldo, he'll struggle to do it all on his own.

    Despite Nani's new five-year contract at Old Trafford, he might see the World Cup as the perfect stage to earn a move away.

6. Patrice Evra

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    Patrice Evra is another player who could leave United this summer, with his contract due to expire at the end of the season.

    France scraped through to the World Cup through the play-offs, where they had to overturn a 2-0 deficit in the second leg against Ukraine.

    Evra is likely to go to Brazil, where France have been drawn against Switzerland, Ecuador and Honduras.

    And the 32-year-old will be hoping to impress potential suitors if he's going to earn a contract for next season.

5. Phil Jones

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    Phil Jones is perfect for tournament football given that he can play at centre-half, right-back and in midfield.

    But the 22-year-old's versatility can also count against him because he's not yet had a run of games in any one position.

    Providing he's fit, Jones will be part of Roy Hodgson's squad for Brazil.

    And, although he's got work to do before then to earn a place in the starting XI, the World Cup could be a breakthrough tournament for him.

4. Marouane Fellaini

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    Marouane Fellaini has struggled since his deadline day move to United from Everton.

    But he remains a key player for Belgium, who have been tipped to do well in Brazil.

    They will be expected to get through their group after being drawn with Algeria, Russia and South Korea.

    And the World Cup will be a welcome chance for Fellaini to put his teething problems at United behind him.

3. Shinji Kagawa

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    Shinji Kagawa has spent another season in the shadows at Old Trafford.

    But, alongside Keisuke Honda, he's Japan's main man.

    He's another member of United's squad who might see the World Cup as a chance to show what he can do, having not enjoyed too many opportunities over the last two seasons.

    And Japan will be hopeful of getting out of a group that includes Colombia, Greece and Ivory Coast.

2. Robin Van Persie

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    The knee injury Robin van Persie suffered against Olympiacos means he is facing a race against time to be fit for the World Cup.

    But if he makes it, the 30-year-old will be expected to lead Holland deep into the knockout rounds.

    Having said that, they will have to qualify from a group that includes world champions Spain, Chile and Australia.

1. Wayne Rooney

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    Wayne Rooney was injured in the build-up to the World Cup in 2006 and was well below his best in 2010.

    At 28 years old, he will head to Brazil with England at his peak and, with a bit of luck, fully fit.

    The United striker can sometimes split opinion over whether he is truly world class.

    And a World Cup in Brazil is the perfect place to end that debate. Especially if he can help England go further than expected.