World Cup Heroes: Five Players Whose Stock Has Risen at the 2018 Tournament

Judging players over the course of a World Cup is always a difficult and dangerous exercise. The tournament's history is littered with players who looked world beaters for three weeks but never managed to reproduce their form for their clubs, often after earning a big money move on the back of the World Cup.

Conversely, however, the tournament can also mark the breakthrough moment for players who, for different circumstances, had not had the opportunity to show their worth for their clubs.

Here's five players for whom the 2018 World Cup could come to be regarded as a pivotal moment in their careers.

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Kylian Mbappe of France celebrates following the victory against Belgium at Saint Petersburg Stadium on July 10, 2018 in Saint Petersburg, Russia. The PSG forward has been the biggest star of the tournament. Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

Kylian Mbappe

Gliding past opponents, making the impossible look routine, Kylian Mbappe announced on the biggest stage of all with an ease that belied his age as France beat Argentina 4-3 in the round of 16. The 19-year- old scored twice, won the penalty for France's first goal and repeatedly tore through Argentina's defense at will.

Against Uruguay and Belgium, Mbappe did not find the net but tormented defenders with the same regularity, while making it all look absolutely effortless in the process.

There was little doubt the teenager was enormously talented, but few could have expected him to be so good when still so young. The 2018 World Cup could be the first of many major tournaments on which the Frenchman leaves his mark.

Kieran Trippier

Forget about bending it like Beckham, from now on kids across parks in England will be learning to bend it like Trippier. The Tottenham Hotspur's wing-back scored a wonderful free-kick to give England the lead in their semifinal against Croatia, but sadly for him it wasn't enough to take the Three Lions to their first World Cup final since 1966.

A key figure in Gareth Southgate's side, Trippier performed solidly throughout the tournament and will his value has surely rocketed over the last month.

Raphael Varane

For all of France's wealth of talent up-front, Les Bleus have only conceded four goals throughout the tournament. Three of them came against Argentina in the Round of 16 and the other was a penalty against Australia, meaning the Albiceleste are the only team to have scored against France in open play.

One of the major reasons for such defensive solidity has been Raphael Varane's form. Trouble by injuries over the last two seasons, the Real Madrid defender enjoyed a fine season and has carried his club form onto the international stage.

Still only 25, the Frenchman is finally living up to his enormous potential.

Ante Rebic

Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic have rightly stolen the headlines as architects of Croatia's surprising march to the final but the 24-year-old's influence has been just as important.

Rebic's ability to beat his man and his delivery have caused defenses countless troubles throughout the tournament, while his movement off the ball made him a precious tactical weapon for Zlatko Dalic.

After three loan spells, Rebic appeared to have found his footing over the last two seasons with Eintracht Frankfurt, who could now have a fight on their hands to retain the service of the Croatian.

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Ante Rebic of Croatia shoots past Jesse Lingard of England during the semifinal against England at Luzhniki Stadium on July 11, 2018 in Moscow, Russia. Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

Yerry Mina

Scoring three goals in four games at the World Cup is a statistic world class strikes would be proud of, never mind central defenders.

Colombia's run might have ended in the round of 16 - when Mina scored a last-gasp equalizer that forced the game into extra time - but the Barcelona defender was one of their standout performers.

Physically imposing, at ease on the ball and a real threat in the air in the attacking third of the pitch, the 23-year-old will have no shortage of suitors, should Barcelona consider cashing in on him.

World Cup Heroes: Five Players Whose Stock Has Risen at the 2018 Tournament | Sports