Kevin De Bruyne, Robert Lewandowski and Manuel Neuer have made the shortlist for the UEFA Men's Player of the Year award for the 2019-20 campaign.

Manchester City playmaker De Bruyne, who recently won the PFA Players' Player of the Year award, is in the final three along with two Bayern Munich stars who helped their side to the treble last season.

Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk won the honour in the previous season, finishing ahead of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

None of those three are on the shortlist this time, though, and whoever comes out on top will be a first-time winner.

Neuer missed only one game in Bayern's treble season and kept six Champions League clean sheets, while Lewandowski netted 55 goals in 47 appearances for Hansi Flick's team.

De Bruyne, meanwhile, produced a record-equalling 20 assists in the Premier League for City, adding 13 goals.

The final order of the top three is yet to be revealed, but UEFA has confirmed the occupants of positions four to 10.

Barcelona forward Messi came in at tie for fourth with Paris Saint-Germain's Neymar, while Juventus attacker Ronaldo was down in 10th spot.

Thomas Muller (6th), Kylian Mbappe (7th), Thiago Alcantara (8th) and Joshua Kimmich (9th) were the others who featured in the top 10.

Ronaldo has won the honour three times since it was first awarded in 2011, while Messi has claimed it twice.

Andres Iniesta, Franck Ribery, Luka Modric and Van Dijk were the other victors, with the award voted for by coaches and journalists.

Lucy Bronze, Wendie Renard and Pernille Harder are up for the Women's Player of the Year accolade in the 2019-20 awards.

Bayern head coach Flick, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp and RB Leipzig's Julian Nagelsmann are on the shortlist for Men's Coach of the Year.

The winners will be announced at the Champions League group stage draw ceremony on October 1.

Messi and Ronaldo also won the previous version of the award - UEFA Club Footballer of the Year – once each. That award was replaced after the 2009-10 season, when Diego Milito came out on top.

First Juventus, now Atletico Madrid.

For so long, Luis Suarez appeared set to leave Spain for Italy.

But a proposed move to Juve did not materialise as the Barcelona forward stands on the cusp of uniting with Diego Simeone in the Spanish capital.

 

TOP STORY – SUAREZ TO JOIN ATLETICO

Luis Suarez will swap Barcelona for LaLiga rivals Atletico Madrid, according to widespread reports in Spain.

Suarez had been tipped to join Serie A champions Juventus after being told he could leave Camp Nou.

But the 33-year-old Uruguay international forward will now sign a two-year deal with Atletico as he dominates the front pages of Wednesday's Marca, Diario AS and Mundo Deportivo.

 

ROUND-UP

Manchester United have progressed talks with Barca regarding forward Ousmane Dembele, Record Sport reports. Having so far failed to prise Jadon Sancho from Borussia Dortmund, United are eyeing an initial loan move for Dembele.

- Esport3 claims Barca are set to sign Ajax right-back Sergino Dest, who was also wanted by Bayern Munich.

Milan have offered €20million for Nikola Milenkovic but Fiorentina have said no, reports Gazzetta dello Sport. Celtic's Kristoffer Ajer and Schalke centre-back Matija Nastasic are also options for the Rossoneri.

- Tuttosport claims Wolves are circling Juventus winger Douglas Costa, who has also been linked to United.

Fulham and Newcastle United have entered the race to sign Napoli forward Arkadiusz Milik, reports Gazzetta dello Sport. Tottenham have also been linked to the Poland international, while Roma are believed to be in talks as Milik enters the final year of his Napoli contract.

- Sky Sport Italia says Tottenham have opened talks for Inter defender Milan Skriniar, while Benfica's Ruben Dias is another option for Spurs.

- Torino are battling Atletico for Arsenal midfielder Lucas Torreira, according to Sportitalia. The former Sampdoria star has also been linked to Milan.

- Telefoot says Paris Saint-Germain are in talks with Chelsea over the possible signing of midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko. Discussions with Milan over a return have become complicated and PSG are now eyeing an initial loan deal for the former Monaco star.

Alvaro Morata has completed a return to Juventus on an initial one-year loan deal from Atletico Madrid, the clubs have announced.

The Serie A champions confirmed the move on Tuesday, sealing Morata's services for a second spell.

Juve will pay Atletico €10million, with the Italian club having an option to buy the 27-year-old striker for €45m or pay another €10m to loan him for a further campaign.

Should the Bianconeri opt to extend the loan, they will be able to purchase Morata for €35m at the end of the 2021-22 season.

A Juve statement read: "Memory albums are there to be opened, to reminisce upon old moments, but also to add new ones and we can’t wait to create many more memories, together once more!

"Even though Alvaro left the club four years ago, after having won five trophies in two years: two Scudetti, two Coppe Italia, one Supercoppa Italiana, he has always remained Bianconero in his heart and his return will be as though he never even said goodbye."

Morata scored 27 goals in 93 games across two seasons in Turin between 2014 and 2016.

He then returned to Real Madrid for a year before joining Chelsea and later Atletico, where he netted 12 LaLiga goals in 34 games last term.

With Gonzalo Higuain having left to join Inter Miami, Juve had been linked with Barcelona's Luis Suarez and Roma's Edin Dzeko.

Morata's move could pave the way for Suarez to join Atletico.

Juve have won nine consecutive Serie A titles and opened their campaign under Andrea Pirlo with a 3-0 win over Sampdoria on Sunday.

Alvaro Morata has completed a return to Juventus on an initial one-year loan deal from Atletico Madrid, the clubs have announced.

 

Luis Suarez's Italian citizenship exam is being investigated over allegations of irregularities, the Perugia Prosecutor's Office has announced.

Suarez flew into Perugia to take the test ahead of a possible transfer from Barcelona to Juventus and passed the 'B1' assignment.

With Juventus having no remaining spots for non-EU players in their squad, the Uruguay striker would have needed to become an Italian citizen to make the move to the Allianz Stadium.

Italian financial police and the Perugia Prosecutor's Office are looking at claims Suarez may have been aware of the contents of the exam, allowing the result to have been predetermined.

There has been no direct accusation of wrongdoing towards any individual and there have been no charges.

A statement from the Perugia Prosecutor's Office read: "During the investigation started in February 2020 by Perugia's finance police on different matters within the university for foreigners in Perugia, some irregularities have emerged on the test on Italian language faced by the Uruguayan footballer Luis Alberto Suarez Diaz on September 17th to obtain the Italian nationality (passport).

"From the investigation it has emerged that the subjects of the test had been previously agreed with the candidate and that the mark had been decided in advance despite the fact that, during the online Italian lessons made by the university teachers, the player had shown just a basic knowledge of the Italian language.

"Today the military corps of the finance police are seizing documents in the offices of the university to ascertain the abovementioned misbehaviours and to deliver the warranty information for the crimes of violation of official secrecy and ideological falsity committed in public acts by the public official and others."

Suarez now appears unlikely to move to Juve, with the Italian champions reported to have struck a deal to secure the return of their former striker Alvaro Morata from Atletico Madrid.

Atleti are said to be close to bringing in Suarez from LaLiga rivals Barca, who have told the experienced forward he can leave Camp Nou, as a replacement.

Juventus welcomed Alvaro Morata back to Turin ahead of the forward's expected return to the Serie A champions.

Morata is reportedly set to join Juve on loan from Atletico Madrid in a deal that will cost €9million and the Italian club will also apparently have an option to buy the 27-year-old for €45m.

Juventus, who have been searching for a forward, welcomed Morata back as he landed in Turin.

"@AlvaroMorata is back in town!" the club wrote on Twitter alongside a picture of the forward.

Morata is set for his second spell at Juve, where he scored 27 goals in 93 games across two seasons between 2014 and 2016.

He then returned to Real Madrid for a season before joining Chelsea and later Atletico, where he netted 12 LaLiga goals in 34 games last season.

With Gonzalo Higuain having left to join Inter Miami, Juve had been linked with the likes of Barcelona's Luis Suarez and Roma's Edin Dzeko.

Morata's move could pave the way for Suarez, 33, to join Atletico.

Juve have won nine consecutive Serie A titles and opened their campaign under Andrea Pirlo with a 3-0 win over Sampdoria on Sunday.

Juventus sporting director Fabio Paratici confirmed Barcelona star Luis Suarez will not be joining the Serie A champions, while insisting the club are not only eyeing Roma striker Edin Dzeko.

Reportedly told he can leave embattled LaLiga giants Barca, veteran forward Suarez had been heavily linked with Cristiano Ronaldo's Juve following Gonzalo Higuain's move to David Beckham's Inter Miami in MLS.

But a delay in securing an Italian passport for the 33-year-old Uruguay international has scuppered those plans, Paratici confirmed prior to Sunday's season-opening 3-0 win over Sampdoria.

"Suarez can be removed from that list, because the time it takes to get the passport is longer than the transfer deadline or the moment we can hand in the Champions League lists," said Paratici, whose Juve have already filled their non-European quota.

"We evaluated the Suarez option when it was proposed to us. He was in the process of getting Italian citizenship, so we evaluated the possibility of registering him in time.

"It is not possible, so he was never really close."

While Suarez is off the list, Juve – led by rookie head coach Andrea Pirlo – continue to be linked with Roma's Dzeko.

Dzeko's proposed move to Juve is reportedly tied to Roma signing Napoli forward Arkadiusz Milik as a replacement in the Italian capital.

Amid uncertainty over this future, Dzeko was an unused substitute in Roma's goalless draw at Hellas Verona on Saturday.

"Let's say there isn't a Dzeko situation, it's a striker situation, as Juventus need a centre-forward," Paratici said as Juve reportedly try to re-sign Moise Kean from Everton. "We know what we want and are working towards that calmly, there are 15 days to go in the transfer window and we're in no rush.

"There are other situations, not just Dzeko. We know what we want. We're working for a striker who can work with Cristiano Ronaldo and Paulo Dybala.

"At this moment, we are seeking one striker, we have our objectives and will try to pursue them calmly, regardless of the names."

Andrea Pirlo has unleashed the shackles and given Juventus' players a lot more freedom to attack opponents, according to veteran defender Leonardo Bonucci.

Juve replaced Maurizio Sarri with first-time coach Pirlo last month and the legendary midfielder kicked off his tenure with a 3-0 win over Sampdoria in Juve's 2020-21 Serie A opener on Sunday.

Reigning champions Juve registered 20 shots at Allianz Stadium and scored from three of them, with Cristiano Ronaldo, Bonucci and debutant Dejan Kulusevski finding the back of the net.

And after a largely disappointing campaign last time out under Sarri, Bonucci believes that Pirlo has already made big changes during his short time in the dugout.

"We saw some new ideas proposed by the coach and his staff, a new way of interpreting the game, a lot of enthusiasm both in possession and off the ball," he told Sky Sport Italia.

"The big difference is the way we are attacking the game and taking the initiative, trying to bring home the result. Seeing the work of the last few weeks and this game, I think it is better.

"There are different movements, as with Sarri we moved far more as a group in defence, whereas with Pirlo we are more one-on-one, giving us more freedom to be aggressive and win back the ball more often.

"We have four central midfielders with the right characteristics to play like this. They are aggressive and also good at passing the ball. That way, we have more quality in possession, which I see as a difference from last season."

Sarri was reportedly sacked by Juventus after failing to win over the dressing room with his style of play, which won him plenty of admirers at Serie A rivals Napoli.

However, Bonucci insisted rumours that the club's old guard forced Sarri out of the door are wide of the mark.

"We accepted any changes made by the club," he said. "This season, the new coach is Pirlo, who changed the way of understanding football that we had last year. 

"It's early to say if it is right or not, but it is different, with a very precise mentality of being aggressive and not wanting to concede goals.

"We had that same attitude last year, because you don't win nine Scudetti in a row without it.

"We're old enough to behave like real professionals. Pirlo is now our coach and we have the utmost respect for all our coaches, just as we try to help all our coaches from within the locker room.

"Fortunately, this is a squad full of great men who are accustomed to working with great champions. That makes it easier for everyone concerned."

Asked if Pirlo reminded him more of Sarri or Massimiliano Allegri – another of his former bosses in Turin – Bonucci said: "Much more similar to Allegri, that is obvious. 

"Pirlo has much the same impact he had as a player - you knew that you could give him the ball and trust he wouldn't lose it. Now it's the same as a coach. There is that same trust."

Juventus head coach Andrea Pirlo is aware of the importance of keeping Cristiano Ronaldo fresh and says the superstar forward will decide which games he sits out.

The Portugal international scored late on in Juve's 3-0 victory over Sampdoria at the Allianz Stadium on Sunday as Pirlo's managerial reign got off to a winning start.

He had earlier hit the crossbar and came close from a couple of his other nine efforts prior to finally finding a way past Emil Audero in the 88th minute.

And with the five-time Ballon d'Or winner having recently picked up a toe injury on international duty, Pirlo is keen to closely manage his star player's fitness.

"We are thinking about it and we have talked about it together," he told Sky Sport Italia. "He is not tired at the moment because we have just started the season. But when we come up to less important games, we'll try to give him a rest. 

"He's a very intelligent lad who knows his body very well, so he is aware of when it's time to rest or step it up. When he will play depends on him."

Juve sporting director Fabio Paratici confirmed ahead of kick-off that Barcelona's Luis Suarez is no longer an option in the club's search for a new striker.

With Paulo Dybala missing the opening game through injury and Gonzalo Higuain finalising a move to Inter Miami on Friday, Pirlo is after a particular type of player to bolster his side.

"We'll give it our best. It's about finding the right balance," he said. "Quality players are always welcome, as long as they have the characteristics to bring balance to the team. But we want to use as much of our talent as possible."

Debutant midfielder Dejan Kulusevski netted the first goal of Pirlo's tenure and Leonardo Bonucci was also on target in Turin prior to Ronaldo's clinical finish late on.

Weston McKennie is another who impressed on his first appearance since joining, while Gianluca Frabotta – a surprise starter at left wing-back – also caught the eye.

"Frabotta had a good game. Alex Sandro picked up an injury, so I chose the under-23 lad who is training with us very well," Pirlo said. "I didn't consider it a risk at all to use him.

"McKennie arrived having started pre-season training in Germany, so was in better shape than some others. He made a few errors in his passing, but it was the first game, we can forgive him for that."

Pirlo has worked under some of the game's most influential coaches but vowed to do things his own way in his first managerial job.

"It will take time to get all the various ways of playing together. I don't want to just copy and paste anyone's ideas," he said. "I have my own ideas and want to adapt from the teams that inspired me.

"We haven't had much time, as the pre-season started late and then they were away for international duty. We had only one friendly too, but it was a good debut and we'll keep working on it."

A debut goal from Dejan Kulusevski and strikes from Leonardo Bonucci and Cristiano Ronaldo earned Juventus a 3-0 win over Sampdoria in Andrea Pirlo's first game in charge. 

Legendary player Pirlo, appointed in August following the sacking of Maurizio Sarri, saw his reign get off to an impressive start at the Allianz Stadium on Sunday. 

Young midfielder Kulusevski found the net inside 13 minutes and Bonucci added a deserved second for Juve with 12 minutes to play, following up after Weston McKennie's shot was saved. 

Ronaldo, who had earlier hit the crossbar, rounded out the scoring late on after being teed up by Aaron Ramsey, helping the hosts make a bright start to their latest title defence in Serie A.

Andrea Pirlo has vowed to prove his doubters wrong at Juventus, demanding "desire and ferocity" from the Italian champions in his first Serie A match in charge. 

The former midfield maestro knows there are questions over his credentials for such a first major coaching job, which he was surprisingly handed when Maurizio Sarri was sacked in August. 

But Pirlo was a prince of a ball-player with Milan, Juventus and Italy, and the 41-year-old says past playing experiences will be reflected in how he now leads a team from pitchside. 

On Sunday, his first test comes when Juve go up against Sampdoria, a team led by the vastly experienced Claudio Ranieri. 

"Doubts? I don't have any," Pirlo said. "Certainties? I'm at Juve, I coach a team of champions, it was easy for me to fit in and I'm fine. 

"I don't have to show the differences with Sarri's Juve: we have the same goals." 

He added: "I carry on my idea of football, which must be aggressive and based on mastery of the game. 

"This period has not changed me; like I was a footballer, I'll be a coach. There are those who speak well of me and those who have doubts, but for me nothing changes: I am sure of what I am doing."

He is clearly talking a good game already, demanding his team show their hunger from day one, but nothing less than another Scudetto will suffice as Juve chase a 10th successive league title. 

New recruit Dejan Kulusevski and veteran Cristiano Ronaldo are set for roving attacking roles as Juventus target a flying start. 

"A new season is beginning, we start from scratch and we'll have to face it with desire and ferocity," Pirlo said. "This is what I'm going to tell the lads tomorrow. We have to start well." 

Pirlo said it was "easy to settle back in" at Juventus, five years after he left for a playing stint with New York City FC. 

Experienced former team-mates Giorgio Chiellini, Leonardo Bonucci and Gianluigi Buffon are "behaving very professionally", Pirlo said. 

"They call me 'Coach', out of respect for their team-mates as well," Pirlo said, speaking in Saturday's pre-match news conference. 

Swedish winger Kulusevski, so impressive for Parma last season, is primed for his Juventus debut and the 20-year-old will be expected to show flexibility within the team. 

Pirlo said: "Kulusevski is an intelligent player. He finds space by himself and is showing a lot of openness to play in different roles. 

"We are inventing something. Neither Ronaldo nor Kulusevski will start central, they will move and rotate."

Andrea Pirlo confirmed it is "unlikely" Luis Suarez will join Juventus from Barcelona but vowed the Serie A champions remain in the hunt for a new striker. 

Although there is much about Suarez that appeals to Juventus, the process of securing an Italian passport for a player who turns 34 in January is a complication that Pirlo addressed on Saturday. 

Suarez needs that citizenship to be eligible for a move, given the Bianconeri have filled their quota of non-EU players, and he is reportedly eligible to apply because of his wife's family background. 

The prospect of Suarez teaming up with former Real Madrid rival Cristiano Ronaldo at Juventus would have been tantalising, with Pirlo having allowed Gonzalo Higuain to join Inter Miami. 

But Juventus have questions over how long the passport process for Suarez might take, and Pirlo said, quoted in Corriere dello Sport: "It is difficult because looking at the times for the passport ... it is unlikely he will be our centre forward." 

Suarez has been left out of Barcelona's squad for Sunday's Joan Gamper Trophy match against Elche, with incoming coach Ronald Koeman looking keen to offload him.

Speaking in a news conference, Juventus head coach Pirlo said: "We are all waiting for the central striker. The transfer market is long. 

"We are calm and happy with what we have. There is no rush." 

Pirlo's first competitive game in charge comes on Sunday when Juventus face Sampdoria in Serie A, the Turin giants launching their quest to secure a 10th consecutive Scudetto.

Davide Zappacosta and Marko Pjaca have joined Genoa on loan from Chelsea and Juventus respectively.

Zappacosta, 28, spent last term in Serie A with Roma but made only nine league appearances, having suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament injury while in the capital.

The right-back joined the Blues in 2017, yet, having featured regularly across his debut campaign, he earned just one Premier League start in his second term.

He appears to have fallen down the pecking order under Frank Lampard following the emergence of Reece James, but is under contract until 2022.

Winger Pjaca, 25, has been at Juventus since 2016 after signing on a five-year deal from Dinamo Zagreb.

However, the Croatian has failed to establish himself in the Bianconeri's first team – for whom he last played a Serie A game in March 2017 – and his spell at Genoa will be his latest loan away from the club after stints with Schalke, Fiorentina and Anderlecht.

Genoa, who finished 17th in Serie A last season and narrowly avoided relegation, begin the new campaign at home to Crotone on Sunday.

As a kid, Dejan Kulusevski always appeared to have something special about him.

This quality didn't lend itself to a brash, arrogant personality, rather his self-belief reflected a quiet confidence, a humble attitude.

While the young Swedish winger might have started the 2019-20 season as something of an unknown quantity for many as he began a loan spell with Parma, to those who know him best he has been on the path to excellence for a long time.

A product of Brommapojkarna's academy, Kulusevski's ambition – and ability – had seen him stand out way before he secured a move to Atalanta soon after his 16th birthday in July 2016.

Four years on, Kulusevski is a Juventus player, having cost an initial €35million, and preparing for his first competitive match with the Bianconeri on Sunday, as Sampdoria visit Turin.

A lot has changed in such a short period, but those who have been key to his development are adamant Kulusevski has the character to cope.

A quest for personal improvement

Roland Nilsson, now Sweden's Under-21 coach, has worked with Kulusevski since he was just 15. "I worked with him with the Under-16s and I could see he was a very good player," he told Stats Perform News. "We knew straight away that clubs from abroad had been there watching and I could understand why.

"It was one of those where it was always decided [moving abroad early]. When he talked about moving to Italy, that was his thing, to progress as a footballer and educate himself in the long run, not the short term. He needed to go somewhere to educate himself, he knew it would be hard and he knew the work that needed to be put in was his own."

Kulusevski moved to Bergamo alone to live in club-arranged accommodation, taking him completely out of his comfort zone and away from everything he knew – but his mentality had already set him apart from others.

"It was going to be tough but his mind was set to do the job and being focused on it, which has been a strength of his through the years," Nilsson continued. "You're always surprised when it goes that quickly [for a player], but at the same time, with the skills he has, his mental strength as well and the awareness of what he needs to be doing, those are the key things for him, and the work rate he puts in on the pitch shows he's serious about what he's doing."

Andreas Engelmark, first-team assistant and technical director at Brommapojkarna, has known Kulusevski even longer, first coaching him in 2012 when the tricky winger – then just 12 – played in the year above his age group. The pair even trained together during the coronavirus pandemic.

"He's an easy guy to work with because he's always going to give you everything," Engelmark told Stats Perform News. "His mindset is very strong, he was confident he was going to make it back then and I think he's confident he's going to do well now. All players have doubt in themselves at times, but his mindset – he believes in himself but at the same time is humble."

'He has everything necessary to be a success'

There was never any doubt about Kulusevski's ability – technically gifted and a fine dribbler, but he wasn't without fault, as Engelmark explained: "The first time I coached him I was like, 'this guy has a great skill set but he's not working hard enough, not defending, he needs to use his team-mates more'."

Engelmark found a player receptive to such feedback and always willing to learn, taking criticism on board and using it to further himself, which subsequently improved him individually and the team.

"His work rate got higher and higher, but when we played good opponents he worked even harder," Engelmark continued. "In the last six months to a year with me, I think something happened – he started working harder than everyone else. He was our best player offensively, but he was also the guy who worked the most."

Nilsson also noticed that improvement. "He knows that has been a bit of his weakness before, but he's taken that along with everything else and that's what he shows today – he does everything up and down [the wing]."

 

Such observations are backed up by the fact Kulusevski managed 5.25 ball recoveries and 4.22 dribbles per 90 minutes last term, both well above the respective averages for his position (4.1 and 0.92).

Kulusevski has just a single full season of Serie A experience under hit belt, though there was a maturity to his performances while on loan at Parma last term that belies his fledgling status.

With 10 goals and eight assists in Serie A, he was the youngest player across Europe's top five leagues to reach at least eight in both metrics and the first foreign under-21 talent to net 10 times in Italy's top flight since 2012-13.

Similarly, of all players in Europe's top five leagues to accumulate 15 goal involvements in 2019-20, only Erling Haaland was younger – by three months – than Kulusevski.

Nevertheless, Engelmark feels Kulusevski will be challenged by transitioning – both mentality and performance-wise – from the expectations he has previously experienced, to those at perennial-winners Juventus.

"He has everything necessary to be a success at that level, but what will be interesting is his consistency," he mused. "At Parma obviously his team-mates were good, but not top-level like at Juve now. At Parma they were defending a lot and they get out on the counter, so obviously he can go in and out of the game and it doesn't really matter.

"For them, dominating isn't so important, it's about being smart and taking your chances, but at Juventus obviously they dominate teams, so it'll be important to be consistent for 90 minutes and be involved more."

Kulu the craftsman

With Parma, Kulusevski was one of the revelations of the 2019-20 season, his creative talents earmarking him as among the best.

His 78 key passes worked out at 2.17 per match, more than double the average for players in his position (1.02). In turn, he averaged 0.22 assists every 90 minutes, but the norm for others in similar roles was 0.09.

One of Kulusevski's most obvious strengths is his ability on the ball, with his close control aided by the fact he is strong on both feet (four goals came with his weaker right foot).

He completed 77 dribbles last season, 2.14 every 90 minutes, which is also a major increase on the 0.92 average for Kulusevksi's position.

Similarly, the young Swede proved himself a notable threat in front of goal. While players in comparable roles would expect 0.35 shots on target every game, Kulusevski's record was 0.72.

As Engelmark noted, one of the main differences for Kulusevski this term will be the change from playing in a team used to being on the back foot to one generally in the ascendancy.

He appears to have the all-round capabilities to be a real asset, particularly given his attacking output was excellent for a middling team, but maintaining that and producing consistently under greater pressure will be a new challenge.

For players of a certain age and skill set, there can be a tendency to go overboard when attempting to establish themselves, and Nilsson's advice is to take belief in what has gone before.

"I would say, go out and play the way as you've done before, not 'over-proving' for everyone else that he's a good player. They know he is good, but you need to show everyone else that you are, and when you move to a team like Juve you need to show up."

The special attributes he has shown since he was a kid will stand Kulusevski in good stead, but arguably the vital element will be his mentality – Nilsson and Engelmark appear in no doubt this all-action winger will leave no stone unturned in his quest to reach the top.

Andrea Pirlo was untouchable at the height of his playing career, a footballer whose grace and prowling presence drew widespread admiration and struck fear into rival teams.

As a coach, we can surmise but really it is a guessing game as to what we will be getting from Pirlo as the dugout rookie leads Juventus into the 2020-21 season.

On Sunday evening in Italy, the man who was a World Cup winner in 2006 takes charge of his first Serie A game with Juve, who play Sampdoria in Turin.

Maurizio Sarri's Juve reign lasted just one season, albeit another Scudetto-yielding campaign for the most successful club in the league's history. Pirlo will be expected to deliver at least that level of success, and encourage a swagger too.

He joins a host of significant former players plucked for leadership roles at an elite level, typically on a hunch rooted in familiarity, the chosen ones often still fresh from their playing days and with scant experience to call on. Top marks in coaching exams provide no guarantee that success will follow.

Many times, the gamble on a colt coach has paid off, with presidents and owners rightly sensing the novice harbours the innate expertise to lead and to inspire, and crucially to bring results. On other occasions, it has ended in frustration and tears, and in some instances the jury remains out.

Here is a look at just some of those cases, illustrating how there are no guarantees attached to such appointments.

PEP GUARDIOLA

The go-to example for any club that wishes to justify appointing a club legend to sudden seniority on the coaching side, former midfield general Guardiola was just 37 when he took charge at Barcelona in 2008, after a year coaching the B team. He departed four years and 14 trophies later, including three LaLiga titles and two Champions League triumphs, and was vaunted as the world's best coach.

Further successes have come with Bayern Munich and Manchester City. Plainly, Pep was born to lead and Barcelona were wise to the fact.

ZINEDINE ZIDANE

How would Zidane, the mercurial playmaker – the only rival to Brazil striker Ronaldo when assessing the greatest player of their generation – take to coaching? Could the erstwhile Galactico tease out the best from those who can but dream of matching the twinkling feet and god-gifted balance with which he was blessed? Could the former Real Madrid maestro really be a suitable fit for the Bernabeu job that has swallowed up many an experienced coach?

Three Champions Leagues and two LaLiga titles later, we probably have a decent idea of the answer to those questions. There have still been ups and downs, and a brief split along the way, but 18 months in charge of Madrid's B team – Castilla – hardened Zidane for the obstacles he would face in the top job. His Madrid sides have at times lacked the verve that was his signature as a player, but they have delivered results and abundant trophies, and ultimately that is what counts.

MICHEL PLATINI

Before there was Zidane, France had Platini. A wonder of an attacking midfielder with Nancy, Saint-Etienne and Juventus, Platini was also a goalscoring titan of the France team that won Euro 84 and reached semi-finals at the 1982 and 1986 World Cups. It followed, to those that knew him, that Platini would go on to become a great national-team coach too, and at the age of 33 he was appointed to lead France, having retired as a player a year earlier. Platini took over with France already at a low ebb and defeats under his charge against Yugoslavia and Scotland meant they missed out on reaching the 1990 World Cup.

Could Platini bounce back? It seemed he might when France reached Euro 92 in style, with eight wins from eight qualifiers, Platini nurturing the likes of Didier Deschamps and Laurent Blanc, but Les Bleus flopped at the tournament itself as they and England bowed out of a group from which Sweden and Denmark advanced. Platini resigned not long afterwards, began to forge a solid reputation in football administration, and by the late 1990s had built a strong, ultimately fateful, alliance with the then FIFA secretary general Sepp Blatter. He would never coach again.

DIEGO MARADONA

If there were ever a case of being blinded by celebrity, then some of the presidents who have given Diego Armando Maradona coaching work surely have fallen victim. The biggest star of his generation, Maradona retired from playing in 1997 and, with barely a sniff of coaching experience and just about as much baggage as an airport carousel, was named boss of his native Argentina in 2008, tasked with taking the Albicelestes to the World Cup two years later. Argentina scraped their way into the finals and were thumped 4-0 by Germany in the quarter-finals. Maradona's contract was not renewed.

He has continued to pick up coaching work, one curious-looking appointment after another, most recently with Gimnasia in the Argentinian top flight. Maradona the coach has been no match for Maradona the player, and it was naive surely for anyone to think that was ever remotely possible.

FRANK LAMPARD

Pirlo was an artist of the 21st century game, and he is considered a deep thinker, while the common theory is that English midfield counterpart Lampard achieved much of his success through hard graft and maximising his rather more rudimentary talent. Whether either categorisation fits the bill is a moot point, but Lampard has a wiser head on his shoulders than many footballers, was top of the class in his school days, and his IQ is reputed to be through the roof.

Derby County gave him a first break in coaching but it took Chelsea just a year to pounce and parachute Lampard into his first Premier League manager's job. A Stamford Bridge great as a player, Lampard had an acceptable first season as Blues boss but the acid test comes in this new term after a spree of big-money signings. A high-stakes London gamble will play out in the coming months.

ALAN SHEARER

As Pirlo takes charge of those in the Bianconeri stripes he once wore – Cristiano Ronaldo and all – it bears remembering that returning black and white messiahs can fail. Former Newcastle United striker Shearer returned to St James' Park in April 2009, the club's record goalscorer aiming to rescue the team from the threat of relegation, but a dismal return of five points from eight games saw them sink out of the Premier League.

Shearer left and has not coached since, happily staying in his niche as a television pundit. There are pressures but also a certain comfort to that studio role. Two months at Newcastle was the sum of Shearer's coaching career: as Pirlo may yet find out, that can be all it takes to destroy the notion of it being a natural next step.

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