Several stars will hope to make their first senior appearances for their countries this week as international football returns.

While most European nations will prepare for their final Nations League matches with friendlies in the coming days, South America is straight back into competitive action with the latest rounds of 2022 World Cup qualifiers.

A host of players are celebrating call-ups and will be doing their utmost to win their first caps, particularly with less than a year to run until the delayed Euro 2020 and Copa America finals.

We've picked out six of the biggest names hoping to make an impact on their debut this week...

 

ENGLAND: JUDE BELLINGHAM

Borussia Dortmund's Jude Bellingham was called up by England boss Gareth Southgate after injuries to Trent Alexander-Arnold and James Ward-Prowse.

The 17-year-old, who will be England's third-youngest debutant if he plays this month, has enjoyed a strong start to life in the Bundesliga and beat the likes of James Maddison and Ross Barkley to a spot in the Three Lions squad.

Key Fact: Bellingham is averaging 68 successful passes per 90 minutes in the Bundesliga this season for Dortmund, the highest figure for any teenage midfielder in Europe's top five divisions.

FRANCE: MARCUS THURAM

Didier Deschamps said Ruben Aguilar could also make his debut this week, but it is Borussia Monchengladbach's Marcus Thuram who is capturing much of the focus on the France squad.

The son of 1998 World Cup winner Lilian Thuram, who holds the record for France caps on 142, striker Marcus Thuram scored both goals in Gladbach's 2-2 Champions League draw with Real Madrid.

Key Fact: Thuram has been directly involved in 20 league goals since the start of last season (11 goals and nine assists) – the only Gladbach player with more in this period is fellow Frenchman Alassane Plea.

GERMANY: FELIX UDUOKHAI

Along with Philipp Max of PSV and Wolfsburg's Ridle Baku, Augsburg's Felix Uduokhai is a new face in Joachim Low's Germany squad, having been a runner-up at the European Under-21 Championship last year.

The 23-year-old defender joined Heiko Herrlich's side permanently after impressing on loan from Wolfsburg last season and has performed well in a mixed start to the season for the Bavarians.

Key Fact: Uduokhai has already amassed 43 clearances in Augsburg's opening seven Bundesliga matches this season, the most of any player in the division.

ITALY: PIETRO PELLEGRI

Roberto Mancini named a handful of uncapped players in his typically expansive Italy squad, but Pietro Pellegri's debut has been eagerly awaited for some time.

Having missed out through injury after his previous call-up two years ago, the 19-year-old forward - who cost Monaco €25million in January 2018 - is getting his career back on track after a raft of fitness problems.

Key Fact: Pietro Pellegri is the third-youngest player to score a Serie A goal, doing so aged 16 years and 72 days for Genoa against Roma in May 2017. He is also the youngest player to score a Serie A brace at 16 years and 184 days old for Genoa against Lazio in September 2017.

SPAIN: MARCOS LLORENTE

At 25, it feels as though Marcos Llorente's Spain debut has been a long time coming, but his performances in a more attacking role for Atletico Madrid this season have truly caught the eye.

The former Real Madrid man, who famously scored twice at Anfield in extra time to knock Liverpool out of last season's Champions League, has helped Atleti to an unbeaten first seven games in LaLiga in 2020-21.

Key Fact: Llorente has been directly involved in 11 goals in his past 21 appearances in LaLiga (six goals and five assists) – prior to this run, he had a total of zero goals and two assists in 69 appearances in the competition.

BRAZIL: DIEGO CARLOS

Diego Carlos played a key role to help Sevilla win the Europa League in his first season in Spain. Indeed, having conceded penalties in the quarter-final, semi-final and final, it was his overhead kick that Romelu Lukaku turned into his own net to hand Julen Lopetegui's side the trophy.

The 27-year-old centre-back, who joined after three years with Nantes, is now bidding to become a mainstay in Tite's plans as the Copa America and 2022 World Cup loom on the horizon.

Key Fact: Diego Carlos has started seven sequences of play that have ended with Sevilla attempting a shot in LaLiga this season, the joint-most of any centre-back in the division alongside Gerard Pique.

Sevilla proved they are a team of "giants" by coming from behind to triumph in the Europa League final against Inter on Friday, according to match-winner Diego Carlos.

While he may have scored the decisive goal in Cologne, Diego Carlos' outing got off to a bad start as he conceded a penalty for the third straight game by sending Romelu Lukaku - who converted from 12 yards - to ground inside the box.

Referee Danny Makkelie only showed the Brazilian a yellow card and, after Luuk de Jong equalised for Sevilla with a diving header, he was lucky not to give away another spot-kick for handball.

De Jong brilliantly nodded home a free-kick from Ever Banega in the 33rd minute but Diego Godin restored parity before half-time.

The second half was far less open but Diego Carlos had a decisive impact when his overhead kick found the back of the net off Romelu Lukaku in the 74th minute.

"I'm very happy. I had said to my family that I needed to score an important goal and it happened. I'm very happy about everything," Diego Carlos told Movistar.

"This is a team of giant players, who fight until the last second. I dedicate it to my wife who is pregnant.

"It's a very important title for all of us. I'm thankful to Sevilla for everything they have done for me."

It was the first time De Jong has scored more than once in a game for Sevilla, who increased their record haul of titles in Europe's secondary competition to six.

"It's incredible. We had such tough games in the whole tournament but we played so well as a team and you could see through the tournament we were like a family, it didn't matter who played, everyone was working for each other and you can see it in this game," De Jong told BT Sport.

"We started good but then they scored out of nothing because of the penalty, but then I scored two headers. That was an amazing feeling for me and luckily at the end of the game we won.

"The first cross from [Jesus] Navas was perfect and I anticipated the near post and it went in, and then the second one was a great cross from Banega. It went in perfectly."

Sevilla secured a sixth Europa League triumph this century as Diego Carlos proved an unlikely hero in a thrilling 3-2 win over Inter in Cologne.

Romelu Lukaku gave Inter a fifth-minute lead from the penalty spot – Diego Carlos might have been sent off for bringing him down - but Sevilla's semi-final hero Luuk de Jong overturned the deficit with a pair of fine first-half headers.

Diego Godin's 35th-minute leveller had Inter swiftly back on terms and the Serie A side appeared to be in the ascendency during a more circumspect second half, until a stunning twist in the tale.

Diego Carlos had been tormented by Lukaku for most of the game but his overhead-kick when Ever Banega's 74th-minute free-kick was partially cleared took a decisive touch off Inter's top scorer and flew into the net.

While the football world may be at a standstill due to the coronavirus pandemic, that's not stopping transfer rumours from swirling in their usual manner, with Sevilla's Diego Carlos a name persistently mentioned of late.

A Brazilian centre-back recruited from Nantes last year in a reported €15million deal, the 27-year-old is enjoying a fine debut campaign in LaLiga, quickly establishing himself as a fan favourite and key member of Julen Lopetegui's team, who are third in LaLiga.

An impressive physical specimen, athletic and comfortable with the ball at his feet, Diego Carlos has been most intensely linked with Liverpool – Jurgen Klopp is said to be a big fan and has apparently identified him as a potential partner for Virgil van Dijk.

But Barcelona and Real Madrid have also been mentioned as admirers, having been able to have a close-up look at him in LaLiga.

With a €75m release clause, Diego Carlos certainly won't come cheap – but we've examined Opta's data to compare him with 16 of Europe's best centre-backs…

THE HOLLYWOOD PASS

The Sevilla team Diego Carlos plays in is quite direct, as such it's no surprise to see he plays a large portion (229) of his passes long – of our select group, only Van Dijk (281), Leonardo Bonucci (249) and Mats Hummels (235) have attempted more.

That undoubtedly impacts his overall pass accuracy of 83 per cent, the worst of the 17 players examined. However, Sergio Ramos has attempted only 10 fewer long-range passes, yet his overall completion rate is significantly better at 91 per cent.

His accuracy is even more unimpressive in the opposition's half, as it comes down to 64 per cent, compared to Ramos and Clement Lenglet at 87 per cent. Nevertheless, Sevilla's vertical style of play is significantly different to the setups of Real Madrid and, in particular, Barcelona, while the data does not take into account how difficult each pass was.

Regular Sevilla watchers will tell you Diego Carlos has a penchant for an eye-catching cross-field pass, but the data doesn't lie – many don't reach their target.

Only 48 per cent of his long-range passes find a team-mate, which again is the worst of the players analysed. It poses the question as to whether such a direct system is suited to Diego Carlos' attributes.

He is less prone to giving the ball away when distributing short – as you would expect most players to be – as he finds a Sevilla player with 90 per cent of those passes, but only Harry Maguire (89 per cent) has a lower record in this scenario, the highest being Presnel Kimpembe (96 per cent).

MUSCLE FOR A TUSSLE

Don't let his clean-cut, well-coiffed exterior fool you - one thing Diego Carlos certainly cannot be accused of is shying away from collision. He has been involved in 196 duels this season, with only Maguire (287), Van Dijk (247), Ramos (213) and Mats Hummels (205) from our select group recording more.

The Brazilian's success rate of 56 per cent in those duels is middling, though. Van Dijk leads the way here, coming out on top 75 per cent of the time in such situations.

But Diego Carlos does come off fairly well with respect to tackling, having attempted 30 and been successful 19 times. That gives him a success rate of 63 per cent, better than 10 others in this select group, including Van Dijk (55 per cent) and Ramos (62 per cent).

Diego Carlos isn't dribbled past very often either, with only eight occurrences of that this term. Six of the chosen group have better records, though three of them are on seven and only one – Leonardo Bonucci (two) – has been beaten fewer than six times.

GET RID!

The clearances metric is where Diego Carlos performs best. He has found himself in the right position to clear danger 128 times in 2019-20, the third best among defenders in LaLiga.

Only Van Dijk (135) and Maguire (132) have a better record in this area from our group, though it's worth bearing in mind the likes of Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain and others do not find themselves in defensive situations as often as Sevilla.

He also leads the way in terms of headed clearances in LaLiga with 71, just shy of Maguire's 80, while Diego Carlos' 25 interceptions is a solid effort as well, though it is some way behind the Manchester United captain's 53.

While it's fair to say Diego Carlos still has areas of his game that can be improved, it's worth stressing that some data points reflect – or are influenced heavily by – the team's setup.

Although the accuracy of Diego Carlos' long passes – a feature of Sevilla's direct system – leaves a mark against his name here, as an out-and-out defender, he is not disgraced when compared to a group of centre-backs most would consider the elite, an applaudable feat given this is only his fourth season in one of Europe's top-five leagues.

Defenders included in the select group: Virgil van Dijk, Harry Maguire, Sergio Ramos, Gerard Pique, Clement Lenglet, Raphael Varane, Presnel Kimpembe, Marquinhos, Dayot Upamecano, Benjamin Pavard, Mats Hummels, Manuel Akanji, Matthijs de Ligt, Leonardo Bonucci, Milan Skriniar, Kalidou Koulibaly

 

Harry Kane is seemingly still an option for Real Madrid.

The LaLiga giants reportedly want to add a forward this close season and are linked with numerous players.

While Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland is believed to be their main target, it appears Kane is an option.

 

TOP STORY – REAL MADRID STILL CONSIDERING KANE

Tottenham forward Kane is still an option for Real Madrid, according to Mundo Deportivo.

Kane, 26, has been linked with a move away from Spurs previously, having been prolific with the Premier League club.

The England international has scored 17 goals in 25 games this season.

ROUND-UP

- Talk around Philippe Coutinho's future appears set to continue for a while. The Mirror reports Tottenham could join the race for the playmaker, who is expected to leave Barcelona permanently in the close season. Coutinho is on loan at Bayern Munich this season and Chelsea are also reportedly interested in the Brazil international.

- Could Juventus get a deal done for Mauro Icardi? Tuttosport reports the Serie A giants could sell left-back Alex Sandro to raise funds for a move for Icardi, who is on loan at Paris Saint-Germain from Inter this season.

- Napoli may be preparing for life without Kalidou Koulibaly. Corriere dello Sport reports I Partenopei are following Sevilla centre-back Diego Carlos, while Koulibaly is linked with a big-money move to PSG or Manchester United.

- Only 21, Houssem Aouar has already made more than 100 appearances for Lyon. AS reports Real Madrid are tipped to make a move for the France youth international midfielder.

- Out of contract attacker Pedro is set to leave Chelsea. Corriere dello Sport reports Roma are interested in the former Barcelona man.

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