As always, familiar faces with dollar signs hanging over their heads were there to lead the way in Brazil: Toni Kroos made Real Madrid's move for him look like a wise investment as he was ever-present in Germany's victorious campaign; Paul Pogba took his Juventus form into France's quarterfinal run as Paris Saint-Germain rumors continue to grow; and Alexis Sanchez helped his case for a bumper Arsenal contract.
WORLD CUP: Beautiful people | Germany homecoming
But who stood out from the crowd unexpectedly and caused the rumor 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 rumors were just a murmur before Juan Cuadrado's performances for Colombia propelled him into the spotlight, sparking rumors that there might be a bidding war between the Catalunya club and Manchester United.
The Fiorentina wide-man was played as a winger for the flamboyant South American side but he is reportedly seen by Barca as competition (or even a replacement) for Dani Alves, whose best years are widely regarded to be behind him.
Fees of around 20 million euros have been thrown about since Colombia's quarterfinal elimination and a transfer away from Serie A now seems all but certain, although Fiorentina has 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 lineup in the opening game against Honduras despite having never played a competitive game for the senior side.
Griezmann has enjoyed success in Real Sociedad but has largely stayed off the radar of the regular football fan. However, his attacking talent was evident to all as les Bleus confidently strolled into the last 16 and the quarterfinals.
Despite France's exit in the last eight to eventual winner Germany, the 23-year-old has been linked with every top club under the sun since the tournament kicked off, most notably with 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 - how many players in history have had such a pricetag and not had genius things expected?
Ligue 1's lesser status compared to the other leagues - and Monaco not playing continental football in 2013-14 - meant that the 23-year-old strolled into Brazil and stole the show. Some say he deserved the Golden Ball over Lionel Messi.
He scored six times to win the Golden Boot, hauling Colombia into the last eight with his mesmerizing 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 was relegated, with its record signing flopping dramatically in England.
As a result, however, seeing him in phenomenal form as Chile defeated holder Spain and took pre-tournament favorite Brazil to penalties in the last 16 was a real shock, his defensive marshaling helping to hold the fluid team together.
A shock for some became an opportunity for Medel: he has been linked with a €8.75m move to Inter, which is reportedly on the brink of being sealed. He will hope he can replicate his form in Brazil rather than flop once again at San Siro.
|Keylor Navas (Costa Rica & Levante)
Costa Rica was far and away the biggest surprise of the 2014 World Cup. Heading into the competition, the nation had zero expectations after being dumped 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 quarterfinals.
His role as savior between the sticks - no team let in fewer goals - have deservedly led him to be linked with Spanish giant 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 lineup 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 singlehandedly 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 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 rumor 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 stage 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 €10m plus bids flew in, with Liverpool reported to be the 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 Messi, Angel Di Maria and Co., but he swiftly showed his importance in attack and defense with a dominant left wing-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.