Is this the summer where Sardar Azmoun finally gets his big break?
The Asian nation are up against it in a group with Spain, Portugal and potential dark horses Morocco – but the likes of Celtic and Wolves will surely be keeping a close eye on the performances of the so-called Iranian Messi, who has 23 goals in 32 games for his country.
The Mirror (22nd Apri, page 48), reported that Wolves are interested in the Rubin Kazan forward while Celtic were still keeping an eye on him, one year after they were quoted a club-record £10 million amid alleged interest from Brendan Rodgers’ side.
And Ali Daei, who is regarded as Iran’s all time greatest footballer, believes the World Cup could be the perfect platform for Azmoun to shine.
“I can say that Sardar is a big player,” Ali Daei, whose 109 international goals remains a world record, told Reuters.
“We have young strikers and the future will belong to them, especially Sardar because he’s really young. He can have a bright future. I’m hoping he can choose the right route, that he can go in the right direction in the future for himself and also for our national team.”
It’s something of a cliché that you should never sign a player on the back of a good World Cup, see Kleberson and Stephane Guivarc’h.
But if Azmoun can fire Iran out of one of the toughest groups in the tournament, perhaps that will be the encouragement Celtic need to splash out.