Corinthians fined star forward Jo for wearing green boots, the colour of their arch Brazilian rivals Palmeiras.

Former Manchester City forward Jo sparked backlash after wearing light green boots in Sunday's goalless draw away to Bahia in the Campeonato Brasileiro Serie A.

After Corinthians fans were left outraged, the club sanctioned and warned the former Brazil international, who is prohibited from wearing the boots again, even in training.

"Sport Club Corinthians Paulista's football board communicates that they spoke with striker Jo about the use of football boots in the match against Bahia, this Sunday," a statement read.

"The player was warned, fined and will not wear them again, neither in training or in games."

Jo, who emerged from Corinthians' youth team in 2003 before going on to play for the likes of CSKA Moscow, Everton and Galatasaray, issued an apology.

"I would never use green boots because of my history with Corinthians, a club I have loved since I was little," the 34-year-old said in a statement via Veja.

"I would never disrespect Corinthians, much less the fans. I have always honoured this shirt and I always will honour it."

Corinthians and Palmeiras share one of the fiercest and oldest rivalries in Brazilian football – the Paulista derby.

The Paulista derby is ranked among the 10 greatest derbies in world football.

Palmeiras are fourth in the Campeonato Brasileiro Serie A through five games this season, five points better off than 11th-placed Corinthians.

Corinthians last won the Campeonato Brasileiro Serie A in 2017, while Palmeiras – winners in 2018 – conquered the Copa Libertadores last year.

Palmeiras endured more penalty pain as Al Ahly's 3-2 shootout success after a goalless draw clinched third place at the Club World Cup.

Andre-Pierre Gignac's semi-final spot-kick had sent Tigres UANL through to the final at the expense of the Copa Libertadores winners and the margins were even finer in Thursday's play-off.

A dismal stalemate prompted the penalty drama, with the takers scarcely more accurate from 12 yards than they had been in the prior 90 minutes.

Mohamed El-Shenawy saved a straightforward Rony effort and watched Luiz Adriano send a truly dreadful attempt wide, but Weverton's sublime stop from Amr El Soleya and Marwan Mohsen's agonising strike against the post kept the sides all square.

Junior Ajayi's outstanding finish into the top-right corner piled on the pressure, though, and Palmeiras captain Felipe Melo was denied by El-Shenawy.

It was a fitting end to a match in which Melo's defensive error had provided the clearest opening.

He failed in an attempt to chip a pass over Walter Bwalya and then slipped, allowing El Soleya to seize the ball and run clear, only to drag his finish wide.

There was also a sprawling El-Shenawy save from Rony's header before the break.

Weverton was grateful for an offside flag midway through a similarly tame second period as he parried El Soleya's volley straight to substitute Ajayi, whose follow-up effort was struck off.

But penalties were required to separate the sides and again proved Palmeiras' undoing.

Ricardo Ferretti hailed his team as mighty Mexican outfit Tigres made history by powering through to the Club World Cup final.

Tigres became the first team from the CONCACAF region – covering North and Central America and the Caribbean – to reach the showpiece match of FIFA's top club tournament.

Andre-Pierre Gignac's penalty early in the second half gave Tigres the result their performance richly deserved, a 1-0 victory over Palmeiras.

The match-winning French striker had earlier been denied by two outstanding first-half saves by Palmeiras goalkeeper Weverton, who came up for a last-gasp corner and headed over a difficult chance to equalise.

The club from the city of San Nicolas de los Garza will face Bayern Munich or Al Ahly in Thursday's final, with the reigning European and African champions going head to head in Monday's second semi-final.

Ferretti said: "The victory gave us an opportunity to reach the final. We faced two great teams, and the next one will be also a great team, and we will face them in the same way.

"I feel calm and happy for the win and excited as everyone. I don't like celebrating before time, we still have to play a game, the most important one is the next one. Naturally we know how capable will be the team we will face.

"Now, we have to get ready, the players have to recover physically, but not emotionally because they feel good. We will get ready these days to reach the end goal."

Palmeiras head coach Abel Ferreira complained that the penalty decision was "dubious", suggesting the tug by Luan on Carlos Gonzalez was not sufficient to justify a spot-kick.

He said: "It was not a clear grab although it existed, but this is not basketball, they won a penalty and from there they defended themselves.

"We had some chances but we couldn't get it right and I have to say without problems that they were slightly superior and the game is solved with a detail by the experience of a great player.

"We know we could do better individually. We came here on our own merit, we have a good mix of young and experienced people. But today we have to apologise to our people and assume that our rival was slightly superior in general and, I repeat, the game is resolved by a dubious penalty."

Andre-Pierre Gignac fired Tigres through to the Club World Cup final as his penalty secured a 1-0 win over South American champions Palmeiras.

The 35-year-old former Marseille striker was hugely impressive in a thrilling game, and his reward came from the spot in the 54th minute, with Mexican giants Tigres full value for their victory.

It means the CONCACAF Champions League winners will face face Al Ahly or Bayern Munich in the final on Thursday.

Tigres were overwhelmingly the dominant side in the first half at Education City Stadium in Al Rayyan, with Copa Libertadores winners Palmeiras kept in the game thanks to three terrific saves from goalkeeper Weverton.

The Brazil international denied Carlos Gonzalez inside the first five minutes by repelling the Paraguayan striker's meaty header.

Weverton then denied Gignac twice in four minutes, first pushing the ball wide for a corner in the 34th minute when the Frenchman looked to bend a shot inside the far right post from a tight angle. A better stop followed as the eye-catching Gignac had a fine header clawed away from the bottom right corner.

Gonzalez had his shirt tugged by Luan for the decisive penalty incident, with Gignac driving his kick into the bottom left corner.

Palmeiras pushed for an equaliser but had at least five men offside from a free-kick before putting the ball in the net, and then Tigres' Luis Rodriguez almost scored in the wrong goal from a low cross, the ball trickling six inches wide. Matias Vina had a shot deflect narrowly wide deep into stoppage time before Weverton, sent up for a corner, headed over from the last big chance.

Qatar Stars League champions Al Duhail earlier secured fifth place by beating K League 1 side Ulsan Hyundai 3-1 in their play-off.

At the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium, Edmilson Junior gave Al Duhail a 21st-minute lead when he drove through midfield and swept a 25-yard shot into the bottom right corner, only for Yoon Bit-garam to level in the 62nd minute.

Mohammed Muntari restored Al Duhail's lead four minutes later with a volley from Dudu's sublime assist, a scooped ball over the defence, and Almoez Ali cracked in the third eight minutes from the end.

Bayern Munich will face Al Ahly in the semi-finals of the Club World Cup after the African champions knocked out home favourites Al Duhail on Thursday. 

The clash at Education City Stadium in Al Rayyan was settled by a fine strike from Hussein El Shahat 30 minutes in, the winger finding the bottom-left corner from the edge of the box after Bassam Hisham had lost possession. 

Walter Bwalya, who forced the defensive error, tucked away a composed finish but saw the goal disallowed for offside following a VAR review. 

Qatari champions Al Duhail improved after the break, but Pitso Mosimane's men were relatively comfortable as they saw out the 1-0 victory. 

Al Ahly will meet Bayern on Monday as the European champions bid to win the tournament for the second time. 

The other semi-final will see Copa Libertadores holders Palmeiras face Tigres, who defeated Ulsan Hyundai 2-1 in the earlier game. 

The K League 1 side, who won their second AFC Champions League in 2020, went ahead through Kim Kee-hee's 24th-minute header. 

Andre-Pierre Gignac equalised from close range and Tigres' all-time leading goalscorer made it 2-1 from the penalty spot just before half-time. 

The CONCACAF champions will be back in action against Palmeiras on Monday.

Breno Lopes scored a 99th-minute winner as Palmeiras clinched the Copa Libertadores final in dramatic finale with a 1-0 victory over Santos at the Maracana on Saturday.

After a touchline fracas that saw Santos boss Cuca sent off, Breno – who replaced Gabriel Menino in the 85th minute – rose highest at the back post to nod a sensational right-wing delivery from Rony back across goal and into the far corner.

It was Rony's 13th goal involvement (five scored, eight assisted) in this season's Libertadores and it settled what had been a drab game of few chances in front of a small crowd.

Palmeiras were consequently crowned Libertadores champions for the second time in their history, with Abel Ferreira becoming just the third European coach to lead a team to glory in the competition.

Despite a fiery start there was minimal tempo in the play of both sides, with the temperature in Rio de Janeiro over 30 degrees Celsius at kick-off.

Raphael Veiga dragged the best opening wide before half-time and 14 minutes after the restart Lucas Verissimo nodded a free-kick from Marinho narrowly off target.

Veiga thundered a free-kick just over after the hour mark and Felipe Jonatan flashed a half-volley wide before Cuca was shown a red card in stoppage time for trying to stop Marcos Rocha taking a quick throw-in.

Santos were seemingly distracted by the incident and Palmeiras punished them, with Breno getting above Para – a champion with Santos in 2011 – to head home the decisive goal without the need for extra time.

There was huge adversity in the early stages of Yeferson Soteldo's career.

He grew up in the underprivileged neighbourhood of El Muertico in the city of Acarigua, where he claims an early grave was the likely alternative to a career in professional football, and although he gained a spot in the academy of Caracas – Venezuela's most successful club – he was thrown out aged 14 for "indiscipline".

Furthermore, there were huge question marks over his physical capability to make it as a pro – now 23, he only stands at five feet and two inches tall.

But Venezuela's most-decorated coach Noel Sanvicente gave him a second chance at Zamora and put him on the path to Saturday's Copa Libertadores final between Santos and Palmeiras at the iconic Maracana in Rio de Janeiro.  

In Messi's footsteps

Six-time Ballon d'Or winner Lionel Messi is an obvious inspiration for a number of players, but Soteldo felt a stronger connection than most to the Barcelona superstar as he worked his way through spells with Zamora, Huachipato and Universidad de Chile before ending up at Santos in 2019.

"Everyone was talking about my height, that I was not going to be able to play football because of my size, because I was very small. Now I'm here, I got over it," Soteldo told the official Libertadores website.

"That's for the young ones who are little too. They can see Soteldo and say, 'I can too.' I did that with Messi. I saw he was small, that he made it and I can too."

Since his arrival in the Campeonato Brasileiro, it is not just his short stature and bleached blond hair that have made him stand out on the pitch.

Soteldo has established himself as one of the league's most potent wingers, his low centre of gravity, incredible pace and quick feet making him a serious threat when in possession out wide.

It is no surprise he has attempted more dribbles (308) than anyone else since the start of the 2019 Brasileiro, but it is what he does in those moments that makes him dangerous.

Soteldo averages a carry with a shot every other game (0.6) in Brazil's top flight and creates a chance following a carry at least once per 90 minutes (1.1) – a league-leading amount among players to have featured for at least 1,800 minutes over the past two seasons.

That ability has seen him directly set up five goals and score three following a carry, accounting for over one third of his 22 goal involvements (13 scored, nine assisted) in the competition.

It is tough for defenders to stop him and he is unrelenting. Per 90 minutes, he averages 5.3 carries of at least 10 metres and 3.8 carries with a take on – the latter being the most among active players in the division.

Stepping up

He has managed to translate that form to the Libertadores this season, with only Carlos Tevez (30) and Nicolas de la Cruz (31) supplying more key passes than Soteldo (28) in the competition.

However, Soteldo has played one game fewer and averages three chances created per game, so would be expected to move level with De la Cruz after the final.

Carries have again formed a key part of the Venezuelan's output, with 11 of his key passes coming after a carry – three more than any other player – though only one has resulted in an assist.

This does not mean Soteldo is consistently involved, though. In this season's Libertadores he has 22 direct chance involvements, where his only contribution in those open play sequences was to create the chance. No player in the competition has more direct chance involvements and it shows the 23-year-old is always capable of popping up with a killer ball.

The next step

Life at the Vila Belmiro has not been a walk in the park for Soteldo.

Santos accepted a transfer bid from Saudi Arabia's Al Hilal last October but Soteldo opted against the move because of his desire to play in Europe.

The Brazilian side were only keen to sell to avoid a punishment from FIFA over fees owed to Huachipato following his arrival at the club, with a financial crisis making his future look increasingly uncertain.

In South America's biggest club game, at one of the continent's most famous stadiums, Soteldo can have a huge say in what happens next for him.

His journey to this point proves he will not let anything stand in his way.   

Kylian Mbappe's future continues to dominate headlines.

For so long, Real Madrid have been favourites to prise Mbappe to the Santiago Bernabeu.

But Premier League champions Liverpool are believed to be stepping up their pursuit.

 

TOP STORY – LIVERPOOL FRONTRUNNERS FOR MBAPPE

Liverpool are ahead of Real Madrid in the race to sign Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe , according to Canal+ show Late Football Club.

Mbappe has been tipped to leave Ligue 1 champions PSG for LaLiga holders Madrid at the end of the season.

But Liverpool are reportedly the frontrunners to prise the France World Cup winner to Anfield amid doubts over Mohamed Salah 's future.

 

ROUND-UP

- Marca says Madrid are preparing for the departure of Sergio Ramos as their star captain nears an exit. The soon-to-be free agent has been linked with the likes of PSG , Juventus , Manchester United and Manchester City .

- Will Roma striker Edin Dzeko and Inter's Alexis Sanchez swap clubs? Sky Sport Italia reports an exchange deal could be set to collapse. City reportedly turned down a chance to re-sign Dzeko, who has a fractured relationship with Roma head coach Paulo Fonseca.

Milan are continuing to target Palmeiras and Uruguayan defender Matias Vina , says Calciomercato.

- Cadena Cope reports PSG want to sign Barcelona defender Emerson , who is on loan at Real Betis.

- Sport Bild journalist Christian Falk says United are interested in RB Leipzig defender Dayot Upamecano , but Bayern Munich lead the race to secure his services at season's end. Upamecano has also been linked to the likes of Chelsea and Liverpool .

- Falk also confirmed that Leipzig defender Ibrahima Konate has a release clause in excess of €40million (£35m) amid interest from United , Liverpool and Tottenham .

United are eyeing Barca's Ousmane Dembele if Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho does not arrive ahead of the 2021-22 campaign, according to Falk.

Weverton and Gabriel Menino will be key to Palmeiras' hopes of defeating Santos in the Copa Libertadores final on Saturday, according to Zinho.

The former Brazil international, a World Cup winner in 1994, was part of the first and only Palmeiras side to lift the Libertadores in 1999.

Marcos made a crucial save in a penalty shoot-out as the Sao Paulo giants overcame Deportivo Cali on that occasion and Zinho believes their goalkeeper may prove key this year too.

"Their strength, for me, is the whole. But if you ask me to choose one, I would choose the goalkeeper, who for me is the best goalkeeper playing in Brazil, which is Weverton," Zinho told Stats Perform News.

In the Libertadores and Campeonato Brasileiro this season, Weverton has conceded 24 times from an expected goals on target (xGOT) value of 33.9, meaning he has prevented 9.9 goals.

Only Luan Polli (6.8) of Sport Recife and Athletico Paranaense's Santos (7.2) outperform his 5.3 goals prevented in the Brasileirao, while Sergio Rochet of Nacional (5.2) is the solitary keeper with a better figure than Weverton's 4.6 in the Libertadores.

The young star

Palmeiras are also blessed with young talent and Menino is undoubtedly part of their most promising players.

Having been converted from a midfielder to a right-back, it has been suggested Menino could be the long-term successor to Dani Alves for the Brazil national team.

The 20-year-old has already been called up twice by Tite but was robbed of a potential debut in November after contracting coronavirus.

"Gabriel Menino [can be important] because of his versatility. He plays on both sides, he plays in the middle. During the match, he also can play as a striker. He is very versatile and he is very important for the team," said Zinho.

Regardless of where he plays, Menino makes his impact felt for Palmeiras.

In the league this season he leads the team in assists (five), and his 34 chances created are only surpassed by Lucas Lima (40).

It doesn't stop there; Menino has the most successful passes in the opposition half (440), has won the joint-most fouls (48), completed the second-most dribbles (30) and won the second-most duels (139).

 

A potent attack

Menino has also scored three goals and supplied one assist in the Libertadores this season, but the competition has very much been Rony's domain.

"I will say these two guys [Weverton and Menino] are key players and they must be in the game. But, of course, Rony is one of the top scorers, one of the leaders in assists in this competition," said Zinho.

"Luiz Adriano is a great, experienced, very good player. So in the offensive part, that looks for the goal, there are Rony and Luiz Adriano with more evidence. So I stay with those players."

Rony has more goal involvements than any other player in the Libertadores this season (12 – seven assists, five goals) and two of his assists have been for former Milan striker Luiz Adriano, who has found the back of the net five times in his six appearances in this edition of the Libertadores.

A place in the Club World Cup is on the line and a potential meeting with Hansi Flick's all-conquering Bayern Munich in Qatar awaits.

"If Bayern go with their maximum strength and face the game seriously, man… in football anything can happen," said Zinho.

"In football you cannot say 'it's guaranteed', but the difference between them is so big, it's huge. Bayern is infinitely better. If Bayern go focused and with desire, looking for the title, probably all the favouritism is for Bayern. But this is football, and it's why it's so lovely."

Bayern Munich will face either Al-Duhail or Al Ahly in their Club World Cup semi-final on February 8.

The competition's draw took place on Tuesday in Zurich and confirmed European champions Bayern will tackle hosts Al-Duhail or CAF Champions League holders Al Ahly.

Al-Duhail secured their qualification as hosts by winning the Qatar Stars League in 2019-20, with no Qatari side managing to win the AFC Champions League.

Egyptian giants Al Ahly won African club football's biggest prize in November and qualified for the Club World Cup for the sixth time, having last appeared in 2013, which was also Bayern's only previous appearance.

Al-Duhail received a walkover into the second round after Auckland City, who had been nominated as Oceania's representative, pulled out due to coronavirus quarantine measures implemented by authorities in their native New Zealand.

The other second-round clash drawn on Tuesday will see AFC Champions League winners Ulsan Hyundai face CONCACAF champions Tigres of Mexico, who are making their first appearance.

Tigres or Ulsan will go forward from that tie to play the Copa Libertadores champions – Santos and Palmeiras are due to face off in an all-Brazilian final of that competition on January 30.

Palmeiras reached their first Copa Libertadores final since 2000 after edging River Plate despite a thrilling second-leg loss on Tuesday.

First-half goals from Robert Rojas and Rafael Santos Borre had River on track to sensationally overturn a 3-0 deficit in the semi-finals in Sao Paulo.

Champions in 2018, River had a goal ruled out early in the second half and a penalty call overturned after Rojas' red card, Palmeiras holding on for a 3-2 aggregate victory.

River found their way back into the tie before half-time.

Rojas produced a brilliant header from a Nicolas De La Cruz corner before Borre nodded in a Matias Suarez cross in the 44th minute.

River thought they had levelled the tie in the 52nd minute, but Gonzalo Montiel's volley was ruled out for offside following a VAR check.

There was more drama to follow.

Rojas was sent off in the 73rd minute after being shown a second yellow card.

But River were awarded a penalty just two minutes later for a challenge by Alan Empereur on Suarez, only for the decision to be overturned following a VAR check.

There was another check for a penalty for River in the 100th minute, but Palmeiras held on to move into the final against either Santos or Boca Juniors.

Palmeiras closed in on their first Copa Libertadores final appearance since 2000 after a stunning 3-0 win over River Plate on Tuesday.

The Brazilian outfit produced an emphatic display in the first leg of the semi-final in Argentina.

Rony opened the scoring and Luiz Adriano doubled the lead early in the second half, with Matias Vina sealing the win after Jorge Carrascal was sent off for River.

River, finalists in the previous two editions of the Libertadores, fell behind in the 27th minute after a huge error.

Franco Armani dealt poorly with a cross, his clearance with his feet falling to Rony, whose volley beat the River goalkeeper via a slight deflection.

Palmeiras – who had another effort ruled out for offside in the first half – doubled their lead shortly after the break.

Luiz Adriano easily turned Robert Rojas after a pass from Danilo before producing a fine composed finish past Armani.

Making matters worse for River, Carrascal was sent off for a rash challenge on Gabriel Menino on the hour-mark.

And the hosts were punished almost immediately, Vina heading in a Gustavo Scarpa set-piece to make it 3-0.

Palmeiras went close to adding a fourth late on, but River have a huge mountain to climb in the second leg in Sao Paulo on January 12.

Finally, 2020 is history - there won't be many people who aren't happy to see the back of a difficult year.

While the coronavirus pandemic shows no sign of making a swift exit, the turn of the year at least gives us the chance to look forward, and the same is true in the world of sport.

2020 saw many promising young players make the step up, some undoubtedly down to the absences caused by coronavirus or the packed schedule that the pandemic has led to.

We've picked out 21 under-21 players to keep an eye on in 2021 - and while you may already be familiar with some of them, there's good reason to give them your attention this year...

 

Illan Meslier, 20 - Leeds United

Few goalkeepers can come away from a 6-2 defeat having impressed, but Meslier did so against Manchester United recently. His eight saves prevented Leeds' crushing loss from getting even more embarrassing, while only three goalkeepers have produced more in a single Premier League match this term. His total of 63 is also the second most in the division – the France Under-21 talent, who joined on a permanent deal from Lorient last year, appears to have a big future ahead of him.

Kristoffer Klaesson, 20 - Valerenga

Goalkeepers tend to break through a little later than outfield players, but Norway youth international Klaesson has already been first-choice at Valerenga for the best part of 16 months – he only turned 20 in November. Coincidentally, he could have become a team-mate of Meslier's in 2020 as Leeds were reportedly interested, but he remains in Norway for the time being.

William Saliba, 19 - Arsenal

Saliba is certainly one of the most recognisable names on this list – after all, he has been owned by Arsenal for getting on for two years. Unfortunately, he has not been afforded much of a chance by Mikel Arteta this term, which makes him an interesting prospect to watch in 2021. Either he'll eventually get an opportunity at the Gunners, or a loan move will provide him with a crack at first-team football. After a tricky 2020, he'll want to get his career back on track.

Perr Schuurs, 21 - Ajax

Given his appearance, playing style and the fact he has come through Ajax's academy, comparisons between Schuurs and Matthijs de Ligt were to be expected. He may not reach the Juventus star's level, but he has certainly shown real promise that is reportedly interesting Liverpool. Schuurs is one of the five youngest players to have featured for at least 500 minutes in this season's Champions League, while his 47 ball recoveries was the sixth highest of any player in the group stage.

Ethan Laird, 19 - Manchester United

Aaron Wan-Bissaka was supposed to fix Man United's issues at right-back, but this season his defensive positioning has been concerning and he appears to have become even less effective in attack – his chances created and open-play crosses per 90 minutes have decreased significantly. Laird has long been considered a fine prospect at United and boasts the technical abilities to be a threat in attack. If he can stay fit, chances could be in the offing.

Tariq Lamptey, 20 - Brighton and Hove Albion

Having joined Brighton last January from Chelsea, Lamptey has quickly made a name for himself as an exciting wing-back. Last year saw the diminutive talent enjoy something of a breakthrough, but in 2021 he'll be looking to truly establish himself and potentially break into the England squad. There are few more exhilarating full-backs in the Premier League – his 3.8 dribbles per game is the third most among defenders to have featured more than twice.

Nuno Mendes, 18 - Sporting CP

Sporting have a wealth of talent coming through at the moment and left-back Mendes is arguably chief among them. Blessed with fine technical abilities, the 18-year-old is apparently a target for Man United, Liverpool and Real Madrid. Already a regular having started 10 of the Primeira Liga leaders' 11 games this term, Mendes' 10 completed dribbles is the fourth-highest among defenders in the division, while his 28 interceptions is second only to team-mate Luis Neto.

Gabriel Menino, 20 - Palmeiras

An intriguing player with a well-rounded skillset, Menino has already transitioned from centre-back to defensive midfield to right-back despite his young age. It is in the latter position where he impressed enough to earn a first Brazil call-up last year and only two players have provided more than his five assists in the 2020 Brazilian Serie A.

Moises Caicedo, 19 - Independiente del Valle

The past month or so has seen Caicedo brought to the attention of a wider audience – or, more specifically, Manchester United fans. The all-action midfielder was the teenager with the most goals (four), shots attempted (24), chances created (19), successful passes (748) and dribbles completed (23) in Ecuador's top flight in 2020, while his passing accuracy of 90.1 per cent was the highest among players to attempt 500 or more.

Billy Gilmour, 19 - Chelsea

Scottish talent Gilmour had shown real promise during his 11 Chelsea appearances last season before a knee injury in July laid him low. He returned to action last month with a few cameos off the bench, and there will be plenty hoping he can return to his previous level quickly. A loan move might be on the cards, but Frank Lampard has high hopes for the crafty midfielder.

Yunus Musah, 18 - Valencia

Valencia are going through another difficult spell, with off-field matters often overshadowing on-pitch performances. Nevertheless, in United States international Musah, they appear to have a reason for optimism. Another tricky winger, Musah's 38 dribbles is the second most among Los Che players this term and he became their youngest LaLiga goalscorer (17 years, 338 days) this century when netting back in November. He's one that got away from Arsenal.

Ander Barrenetxea, 18 - Real Sociedad

A nimble right-footed left-winger, Barrenetxea broke into La Real's senior side last season with 17 appearances in LaLiga. His eight starts this term is already an increase of five on the entirety of 2019-20 and he has been using that extra time on the pitch to excite. He has attempted 41 dribbles in LaLiga, and his 56 per cent completion rate is bettered by only seven players – all of whom are much older – among those to have tried at least 40.

Bryan Gil, 19 - Eibar (on loan from Sevilla)

If Barrenetxea embodies the modern 'inverted winger' style, then Bryan is very much a wide midfielder of the classic variety. A direct touchline-hugger, the left-winger's aim is almost always to beat his man and get a cross into the box, and he is catching the eye on loan at Eibar this term. Only five wingers in LaLiga can better Bryan's 49 open-play deliveries, though his 22.5 per cent accuracy is better than all but one of those with more cross attempts. He's also tried 44 dribbles, his 52.3 per cent completion putting him close to Barrenetxea.

Jaminton Campaz, 20 - Deportes Tolima

Campaz may not be a household name yet, but a move to Europe or one of South America's leading leagues is surely not far away. The attacker, who can play wide or through the middle, is an explosive player but also productive. No younger player had more goal involvements (five goals and four assists) and chances created (32) in Colombia's top division than Campaz.

Amad Diallo, 18 - Manchester United

Although United splashed a reported £19million on Diallo, the young Ivorian remains something of an unknown quantity. A left-footed right-winger, he has only been given a handful of opportunities in Atalanta's senior side – though he has often caught the eye with his ability on the ball. Given United's lack of options on the right flank, he might just establish himself sooner than some expect – either way, he will be one to monitor.

Pedri, 18 - Barcelona

As each week passes, more and more Pedri looks to be settling into the role as Lionel Messi's heir at Barcelona, but whether he's ready to take up such a mantle as early as this year is another matter. Messi's contract ends in June and so he could well depart – taking on his creative burden would be an unenviable task for a teenager, though Pedri is proving effective. He is creating a chance every 45 minutes on average in the league this term, the third most frequent in the squad among those to have played at least five times.

Talles Magno, 18 - Vasco da Gama

Are you really a Brazilian 'wonderkid' if you've not been linked with every major European club? Talles Magno fits the bill there and it's easy to see why there's interest. His end product still needs work, but his ability to excite is considerable – the 18-year-old has completed more than twice as many dribbles (106) as any other teenager in Brazil's Serie A between 2019 and 2020.

Karim Adeyemi, 18 - Salzburg

There has been a buzz around Adeyemi for a few years now as has previously impressed scouts with Germany's youth sides and during a fruitful loan spell at Liefering. Now back at Salzburg, he looks destined to be another serious talent off the club's impressive conveyor belt. Adeyemi is the only player to have been involved in four goals in a single Austrian Bundesliga this term, scoring and getting a hat-trick of assists in the 8-2 victory over St. Polten, while he set up a goal on his league debut for the club in June. A thrilling talent with great vision and dribbling abilities, Adeyemi may get even greater responsibility in 2021 following the departure of Dominik Szoboszlai.

Marcos Leonardo, 17 - Santos

It's still early days for Marcos Leonardo, though Santos clearly rate him highly – the striker's release clause is €100m. He's already the underage player with the most minutes played (296) and goals (one) in Brazil's top division this season, while he became the sixth youngest player to net in the Copa Libertadores (17y, 173d) when scoring a winner against Defensa y Justicia.

Youssoufa Moukoko, 16 - Borussia Dortmund

There's not much that hasn't already been said about Moukoko. He became the Bundesliga's youngest ever player in November when making his debut a day after his 16th birthday, before then also setting a new record for the league's youngest goalscorer in December. New coach Edin Terzic has already given him two starts – his next target will be to break records on the international stage with Germany. He couldn't get into their Euros squad, could he?

Matias Arezo, 18 - River Plate (URU)

Stocky, technically gifted and already proving decisive in front of goal with seven goal involvements (five goals, two assists) in 15 league matches, Arezo has a lot going in his favour. Whether he has the mentality or focus to not let the 'new Luis Suarez' labels distract him remains to be seen, but he's already the youngest Uruguayan (17y, 349d) to ever score a brace in the Copa Sudamericana having done so against Atletico Nacional in November.

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