Many players went into the tournament in Brazil with a stellar reputation already, but for others it was the perfect opportunity to showcase their talents to a wider audience
As always, familiar faces trailed by an army of scouts were there to lead the way in Brazil: Toni Kroos made Real Madrid's move for him look like wise investment as he was ever-present in Germany's victorious campaign; Paul Pogba took his Juventus form into France's quarter-final run as he is linked with Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain; and Alexis Sanchez helped his case for a bumper Arsenal contract.
But who stood out from the crowd unexpectedly and caused the rumour mill to go into overdrive with their World Cup performances? Goal looks at eight players who did wonders for their reputation this summer...
|Juan Cuadrado (Colombia & Fiorentina)
The Barcelona rumours were just a murmur before Juan Cuadrado's performances for Colombia propelled him into the spotlight, sparking reports that there might be a bidding war between the Catalunya club and Manchester United.
The Fiorentina wide-man was deployed as a winger for his country but he is reportedly seen by Barca as competition (or even a replacement) for Dani Alves, who could himself be moving to PSG.
Fees of around €20 million (£15.8m) have been thrown about since Colombia's quarter-final elimination and a transfer away from Serie A now seems likely, although Fiorentina snapped up all of his rights during the tournament have expressed a strong desire to hang on to the 26-year-old.
|Antoine Griezmann (France & Real Sociedad)
With Franck Ribery out of France's squad due to injury, Antoine Griezmann stepped into Didier Deschamps' starting line-up in the opening game against Honduras despite having never played a competitive game for the senior side.
Griezmann has enjoyed success at Real Sociedad but has largely stayed under the radar of the casual football fan. However, his attacking talent was evident to all as les Bleus confidently strolled first into the last 16 and then the quarter-finals.
Despite France's exit in the last eight to eventual winners Germany, the 23-year-old has been linked with every top club under the sun since the tournament kicked off, most notably Arsenal, PSG and Manchester United.
|James Rodriguez (Colombia & Monaco)
James Rodriguez was blissfully unburdened of heady hype heading into the World Cup despite having cost Monaco a whopping €35m (£27.7m) - how many players in history have had such a pricetag and not had genius expected?
Ligue 1's comparatively low status - and Monaco not playing in European competition last season - meant that the 23-year-old could stroll into Brazil unnoticed and steal the show. Many say he deserved the Golden Ball over Lionel Messi.
He scored six times to win the Golden Boot, including the goal of the tournament against Uruguay, hauling Colombia into the last eight with his mesmerising goals, and his achievements have landed him firmly on Real Madrid's mega-money radar. Expect this transfer saga to run and run.
|Gary Medel (Chile & Cardiff City)
The World Cup will have been a welcome relief for Gary Medel who had endured a torrid first - and probably final - season in the Premier League as Cardiff City were relegated, with their record signing embroiled in a turbulent campaign in south Wales.
As a result, seeing him in phenomenal form as Chile defeated holders Spain and took pre-tournament favourites Brazil to penalties in the last-16 was a real shock, his defensive marshalling helping to hold the fluid team together.
A shock for some became an opportunity for Medel: he is reportedly on the verge of sealing a move to Serie A side Inter.
|Keylor Navas (Costa Rica & Levante)
Costa Rica were far and away the biggest surprise package of the 2014 World Cup. Heading into the competition they had zero expectations after being placed in a group with three former winners: Uruguay, England and Italy.
Keylor Navas had been brilliant for Levante this season but no one expected the goalkeeper - and, in fairness, the defenders in front of him - to step up and concede only twice in five games as the Concacaf minnows reached the quarter-finals.
His role as saviour between the sticks - no team let in fewer goals - have deservedly led him to be linked with Bayern Munich and even Real Madrid as a potential successor to Iker Casillas or Diego Lopez should either goalkeeper be cast aside this summer.
|Guillermo Ochoa (Mexico & free agent)
Not many players head into a World Cup without a club; even fewer are a key part of the starting line-up and surely only a handful have ever gone on to become one of the tournament's stars, but that's exactly what Guillermo Ochoa did.
The Mexico goalkeeper seemed to single-handedly keep Brazil at bay in the group stage with a string of super saves and never once looked anything less than excellent, making a mockery of the fact he is without a club after parting with relegated Ajaccio.
His heroics have not gone unnoticed: most realistically, it has been suggested he will fill the departed Willy Caballero's shoes at Malaga, although dream moves to Arsenal and Liverpool have also been mooted in the rumour mill.
|Divock Origi (Belgium & Lille)
One man's failure is another man's fortune, and indeed Romelu Lukaku's struggles up front in the group stage for Belgium were quickly forgotten about thanks to Lille teenager Divock Origi.
The striker came off the bench in all three of their group games and Belgium did not score without him on the pitch in each of those matches. Most memorably, he scored a crucial late winner to see them past Russia and guarantee qualification.
Origi, 19, was subsequently launched into the transfer market stratosphere as rumours of big-money bids flew in, with Liverpool top suitors for the latest star in the long and illustrious Lille production line.
|Marcos Rojo (Argentina & Sporting)
Marcos Rojo was one of the more anonymous names in Argentina's squad, overshadowed by Lionel Messi, Angel Di Maria and Co., but he swiftly showed his importance in attack and defence with a dominant left-back showing in Brazil.
As Alejandro Sabella's men stampeded towards the final, the 24-year-old was not only a constant menace along the left flank, but also a danger from set pieces as an aerial threat and was rarely found wanting in his defensive duties.
Rojo's form earned him a place in Fifa's team of the tournament, but his good fortune has not stopped with the World Cup - Barcelona and Chelsea are just two of a number of top teams believed to be considering a swoop for the Sporting star.