Brazil will be the number one side in the world when the Qatar 2022 World Cup starts next month, after strengthening their lead in the FIFA rankings.

The Selecao head into this year's tournament looking to break a two-decade hold by European nations on the sport's top prize, having been the last country from outside the continent to triumph at the South Korea and Japan 2002 finals.

Tite's side have slightly stretched their points advantage above second-placed Belgium, whom they displaced atop the list in March.

Brazil and Belgium head up an unchanged top five, with Argentina remaining at number three, World Cup holders France at four and England – who have endured a dismal 2022 – in fifth place.

The Three Lions will top the strongest group at Qatar 2022, Group B, when taken on points, with fellow nations the United States, Wales and Iran all ranked inside the top 20.

Italy, who are the highest-ranked nation not qualified for the World Cup, have forced the only move inside the FIFA top 10 as they head to sixth from seventh in a straight swap with Spain.

The Netherlands, Portugal and Denmark round out the top 10, with Germany just beyond them at number 11, ahead of 2018 World Cup finalists Croatia.

The lowest-ranked side at this year's tournament will be Ghana, who sit at 61st on the FIFA list, while hosts Qatar are in 50th place.

Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois faces a spell on the sidelines after suffering an injury with Belgium during the international break.

The 30-year-old completed 90 minutes as Belgium lost 1-0 to the Netherlands in last Sunday's Nations League clash, but appeared to be in some discomfort during the game.

Madrid host Osasuna in LaLiga on Sunday as they return to action after the last international break before November's World Cup, but will be without their star goalkeeper.

The Spanish and European champions released a statement ahead of the clash with Osasuna stating Courtois had suffered a hernia issue.

However, Carlo Ancelotti's side did not confirm how long the back injury will keep Courtois on the sidelines as Madrid await results from scans on the former Chelsea man.

Courtois remains the only player to have played every minute of the season so far for Madrid, who are undefeated this campaign, but that run will end with Andriy Lunin expected to replace him.

Louis van Gaal praised the Netherlands' discipline in their 1-0 Nations League victory over Belgium on Sunday despite describing his team as having played "very badly". 

Victory over Poland on Thursday meant the Oranje only needed to avoid a heavy defeat to their neighbours at the Johan Cruijff ArenA in Amsterdam to seal top spot in Group A4 and progress to the Nations League Finals next year.

A result of that nature never looked like materialising, with Virgil van Dijk securing three points for the hosts in the 73rd minute – the centre-back's sixth goal for his country, four of those being headers from a corner.

The result extended Oranje's unbeaten run to 15 games (11 wins, four draws) since Van Gaal was reappointed for the third time in August last year, while it also saw Van Gaal move level with Dick Advocaat as the manager with the most wins in charge of the Netherlands (37). 

"We lost the ball so much and in simple situations," he told NOS. "Just like against Poland, only now even more. 

"That also had to do with Belgium, who put more pressure on the ball, especially in the second half. We certainly didn't play our best game.

"Belgium are very strong in terms of quality. They have a lot of individual quality. [Kevin] De Bruyne and [Eden] Hazard; those are top players. The Belgians did very well from the back. They were the better team today.

"I told the players that we played very badly, but we didn't give away many chances. 

"We also had the greatest opportunities, especially at the end. I think [Steven] Bergwijn and [Davy] Klaassen should have scored.

"This is a disciplined victory and that's nice. Although we were second best for 90 minutes, we still continued playing our game and were disciplined."

Marten de Roon replaced the injured Frenkie de Jong in midfield and Van Gaal was pleased with how the Atalanta man contained De Bruyne.

"I thought [De Roon] was one of the better players," he added. "He gave few balls to the opposition and defensively picked up De Bruyne, who walked a little further away from our pit bulls. He did that very well."

One of those "pit bulls", substitute Tyrell Malacia, also received praise from Van Gaal, who said the Manchester United man also did well in shackling De Bruyne.

"I put him on the left of the central defence because De Bruyne played a lot on that side," Van Gaal explained. "It's better to have a pit bull like that instead of someone like [Daley] Blind who tries to solve it tactically. 

"I had already discussed this with him the day before yesterday. The defensive work he did very well."

The Netherlands booked their place in the Nations League Finals as Virgil van Dijk's second-half header sealed a 1-0 win over Belgium on Sunday.

Victory over Poland on Thursday meant the Oranje only needed to avoid a heavy defeat to their neighbours at the Johan Cruijff Arena in Amsterdam to seal top spot in Group A4.

Belgium never looked like they had the firepower to pull off such a result, with Liverpool defender Van Dijk securing three points for the hosts by scoring in the 73rd minute.

The result meant the Netherlands topped their group with 16 points, with Roberto Martinez's Red Devils six points behind in second.

Belgium looked bright in the early stages, with Eden Hazard blazing over from a promising position and Michy Batshuayi firing at Remko Pasveer after being played in by Kevin De Bruyne.

At the other end, Denzel Dumfries cracked wide from 12 yards after fine work down the left from Vincent Janssen, which was the closest the hosts came in a first half that saw them fail to have an attempt on target.

Dumfries again went close at the start of the second period, while Belgium's Amadou Onana was denied by a smart stop from Pasveer shortly after the hour mark. 

Steven Bergwijn powered a shot straight at Thibaut Courtois as the Netherlands cranked up the pressure, before Van Dijk handed the hosts victory with a close-range header from Cody Gakpo's corner.

Courtois did well to deny Davy Klaassen and Bergwijn in the closing stages, while Belgium substitute Dodi Lukebakio struck the post with a sensational overhead kick with almost the last kick of the game.

Eden Hazard has vowed he will return to his best form once his "delicate situation" at Real Madrid has been resolved.

The Belgium international showed flashes of quality during his 65 minutes on the field in his country's 2-1 Nations League win over Wales on Thursday.

That was the longest Hazard has played in a single match this season, having been restricted to just one start across Madrid's nine matches, each of those ending in victory.

Hazard's place in Belgium's line-up has been called into question ahead of the World Cup, and the ex-Chelsea forward acknowledged he needs to be playing more regularly.

"I was happy to start another match," he told RTL. "You saw that, I think. I'm happy when I play and it was nice to play for the supporters here [in Brussels] again.

"I know what I can do. Now I want to get in shape for the World Cup. We'll see what the coach [Roberto Martinez] decides, but I'm happiest when I play.

"When I play, I give it my all. It's a delicate situation at Real Madrid. I feel like playing more, but I can't do more.

"I've always said the old Eden Hazard will come back when he plays. I just need to get back into the rhythm."

Michy Batshuayi and Kevin De Bruyne both linked up with a goal and an assist each to give Belgium a 2-0 lead against Wales, who pulled one back through Kieffer Moore.

Martinez's side remain within three points of Group A4 leaders Netherlands ahead of travelling to Amsterdam on Sunday for their final game.

"We are going to try to play a good game there and prepare ourselves for the World Cup," Hazard said.

"I'm glad we played so well after the [Wales] goal. We can learn a lot from this for the next games."

Netherlands boss Louis van Gaal is doubtful that Memphis Depay and Steven Berghuis will be fit enough for Sunday's Nations League Group A4 decider against Belgium.

The Oranje cemented their position as group leaders on Thursday with a 2-0 win over Poland thanks to goals in each half from Cody Gakpo and Steven Bergwijn.

That result means they only need to avoid defeat to Roberto Martinez's side to progress to the Finals next June.

Berghuis replaced the injured Teun Koopmeiners inside the opening five minutes at the PGE Narodowy in Warsaw, but the forward was later withdrawn for Kenneth Taylor, while Depay limped off in the 52nd minute to be replaced by Vincent Janssen.

Van Gaal had good news on Koopmeiners' condition, but the Netherlands boss was not optimistic about Depay and Begrhuis' chances of featuring against the Red Devils.

"I understand that Teun was already feeling a bit better, and I replaced Frenkie [de Jong] as a precaution. He had some tension on the muscles, but he expects to play, and he knows his own body," Van Gaal told NOS. 

"I don't think Memphis will play on Sunday and neither will Berghuis. It's a back injury and that usually lasts longer than a few days."

Gakpo, who was linked with a move to the Premier League during the transfer window, has started the season in fine form for PSV, scoring eight goals in seven Eredivisie games.

The 23-year-old continued his momentum on the international stage as well, stroking home his third goal for his country early on.

He played in a more central role than he is accustomed to at club level, and Van Gaal believes that is where his future might lay.

"I thought that Gakpo performed his duties well both in possession and out of possession," the head coach added.

"It was a good lesson for him and a good development. He wanted to play from the left, but for me, he has everything to become a good 10.

"He scored again, that's also important. It was a world-class goal. I jumped off the bench too. I don't normally do that. It was a top goal."

Roberto Martinez revealed Eden Hazard informed him he must "pay for a dinner party" following his red card in Belgium's Nations League win over Wales.

The Red Devils kept their hopes of reaching the Nations League Finals alive with a 2-1 victory in Brussels; Kevin De Bruyne and Michy Batshuayi on target at King Baudouin Stadium.

Martinez was given his marching orders by referee Ali Palabiyik after preventing Wales from taking a quick throw-in deep into stoppage time as his side remained three points behind Group A4 leaders Netherlands, with Kieffer Moore's goal proving to be in vain.

The Spaniard did not feel he should have been ordered from the touchline and says his dismissal will be costly.

"It may have been yellow, but never red," he told VTM. "I was just trying to slow down the game a bit. The captain told me that in Belgium, you have to pay for a dinner party with a red card. I will do that.

"You did see different halves. Before half-time, we found the spaces well, with many chances and two goals. After that, we tried to look for the one-on-one less, and we let the ball move less quickly.

"I'm glad we played it so well after the [Wales] goal. We can learn a lot from this for the next games."

Meanwhile, De Bruyne also took a swipe at officials following a penalty incident late on. Belgium were initially awarded a spot-kick after the Manchester City maestro was challenged by Rhys Norrington-Davies.

The decision was rightly overturned following consultation with the VAR, as the Wales defender clearly played the ball, but the referee subsequently pointed for a goal-kick rather than a corner.

Asked about Belgium's penalty shout, De Bruyne told S4C: "I was already running to the corner. The rules are so stupid though; it should then be a corner.

"I think we fully deserved to win, we dominated the first half and created a lot of chances. Wales were playing man to man, so there were more options in the first half.

"Then we started the second half poorly. We have to keep the ball - as Wales were playing so deep - and wait for the right moments."

Kevin De Bruyne was on target as Belgium kept their faint hopes of progressing to the Nations League Finals alive with a 2-1 victory over Wales.

De Bruyne opened the scoring and set up the second goal for Michy Batshuayi at the King Baudouin Stadium, as the Red Devils remained three points behind leaders Netherlands in Group A4.

Kieffer Moore pulled one back for Wales, but the Dragons must now beat Poland on Sunday to have any chance of avoiding relegation from League A.

The Red Devils, whose head coach Roberto Martinez was sent from the touchline for time-wasting, need an emphatic win over the Dutch when they meet on Sunday to reach the Finals.

Belgium took just 10 minutes to break through as De Bruyne applied a wonderful first-time finish to Batshuayi's lay-off to the edge of the penalty area.

Youri Tielemans steered Yannick Carrasco's cross off target and Batshuayi fired over from a tight angle as the Red Devils continued to dominate, while the woodwork denied De Bruyne a second goal as he rattled the post from 20 yards out.

Eden Hazard then curled narrowly wide before the hosts doubled their lead in the 37th minute. This time, De Bruyne was the provider; sweeping in a pinpoint cross for Batshuayi to touch home.

Ethan Ampadu called Thibaut Courtois into action with Wales' first attempt on goal, while Wayne Hennessey denied De Bruyne at the other end.

The visitors halved the deficit within five minutes of the restart as Moore rose to head home Brennan Johnson's inviting cross.

Rob Page introduced Gareth Bale in the 64th minute and the Los Angeles FC forward went close soon after; Toby Alderweireld deflecting his header over from Dan James' centre.

VAR overturned a Belgian penalty later on, but the hosts held on for maximum points after Martinez was ordered from the touchline in stoppage time.

Roberto Martinez expects Romelu Lukaku to return to Inter training in the next week, but has left him out of Belgium's squad for their upcoming Nations League games as a precaution. 

Lukaku sustained a thigh injury in training at the end of last month, causing him to miss a derby defeat to Milan and Champions League fixtures against Bayern Munich and Viktoria Plzen.

The striker, who is Belgium's record goalscorer with 68 goals in 102 senior caps, also appears doubtful for the Nerazzurri's Serie A tussle with Udinese on Sunday, prompting Martinez to act with caution when selecting his squad for games against Wales and the Netherlands.

"Romelu is making good progress, his recovery is going in the right direction," Martinez said.

"He will probably return to Inter within a week, not calling him was a prudent choice. 

"With Romelu it was important not to risk, because a relapse with an injury of this type would be very risky in view of the World Cup."

Milan's Divock Origi is also absent from Belgium's latest squad after failing to make a Serie A start since completing his move from Liverpool, though fellow Rossoneri newcomer Charles De Ketelaere is in.

Anderlecht defender Zeno Debast is the only uncapped player selected by Martinez, who has picked an experienced 30-man party in a bid to make up a three-point gap to the Netherlands at the top of Group A4.

Belgium squad: Thibaut Courtois (Real Madrid), Simon Mignolet (Club Brugge), Koen Casteels (Wolfsburg), Matz Sels (Strasbourg); Jan Vertonghen (Anderlecht), Toby Alderweireld (Antwerp), Thomas Meunier (Borussia Dortmund), Jason Denayer (free agent), Dedryck Boyata (Club Brugge), Timothy Castagne (Leicester City), Arthur Theate (Rennes), Brandon Mechele (Club Brugge), Wout Faes (Leicester City), Zeno Debast (Anderlect); Axel Witsel (Atletico Madrid), Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City), Youri Tielemans (Leicester City), Eden Hazard (Real Madrid), Yannick Carrasco (Atletico Madrid), Thorgan Hazard (Borussia Dortmund), Leandro Trossard (Brighton and Hove Albion), Amadou Onana (Everton), Leander Dendoncker (Aston Villa), Hans Vanaken (Club Brugge), Alexis Saelemaekeers (Milan); Dries Mertens (Galatasaray), Michy Batshuayi (Fenerbahce), Charles De Ketelaere (Milan), Dodi Lukebakio (Hertha Berlin), Lois Openda (Lens).

Belgium international Jan Vertonghen has returned to his home country by joining Anderlecht on a permanent deal from Benfica.

The former Tottenham defender, who has won a remarkable 139 caps for his country, has penned a two-year contract with Belgium's most successful club.

Vertonghen made 57 league appearances during his time in Portugal, having previously enjoyed an eight-year stint in the Premier League. 

Speaking to Anderlecht's website, Vertonghen revealed: "There have been talks with Anderlecht in the past already, but suddenly everything fell into place. 

"I've been following the club's project for a while now and I'm convinced that with my experience I can contribute something to this group."

Vertonghen is not the only former Spurs player to leave Benfica, with Adel Taarabt departing by mutual agreement after seven years with the club.

Roger Schmidt's team have already moved to replace the outgoing duo, sealing a loan deal for Paris Saint-Germain winger Julian Draxler and a permanent move for United States defender John Brooks on transfer deadline day.

Dries Mertens says his time at Napoli "could have ended differently" after he departed the club at the end of last season following a breakdown in contract negotiations.

The Belgium international ended a nine-year spell in Naples ahead of the new campaign after failing to agree fresh terms with the Serie A side, subsequently moving to Super Lig outfit Galatasaray on a free transfer.

The 35-year-old was an integral presence for the club over the best part of a decade, helping them to two Coppa Italia triumphs and a further Supercoppa Italia crown during his tenure.

Reflecting on his exit, Mertens revealed he has kept his family home in the region, while acknowledging that had discussions started earlier, he may well have stayed on Napoli's books.

"It's been a wonderful nine years," Mertens told DAZN. "Of course, it could've ended differently. I think the club could've talked about [the contract] earlier. I hope I can learn from this experience to become even greater. 

"Today I'm very happy because my family and I have embarked on a new adventure. I'm in a great city and a great club. 

"[But] of course leaving Napoli was hard. My wife cried at the thought of leaving home, so we decided to keep it and try to spend as much time there as possible."

Mertens, a Belgium centurion, will have his eyes likely set on securing a place in the national team squad for the World Cup in Qatar later this year.

World 100m Champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce will clash with British 2019 World 100m silver medallist Dina Asher-Smith in the blue-ribbon event at the Brussels Diamond League meeting on September 2.

Jamaica’s Fraser-Pryce, who won her fifth world title in Eugene last month, has run world leading times at the last two Diamond League stops in Silesia and Monaco.

Unbeaten in the 100m this season, the Jamaican has produced six sub 10.7 times so far and will look to add a seventh and book a spot in the Diamond League final in Zurich on September 7-8.

Asher-Smith, who won gold in the 200m at the 2019 World Championships in Doha to go along with her 100m silver, has a season’s best of 10.83 which she ran to finish fourth at the World Championships in Eugene.

Marie-Josee Ta Lou, who sped to a personal best and African record 10.72 to finish third behind Fraser-Pryce and Shericka Jackson in Monaco, will also be in the race as well as the USA’s Sha’Carri Richardson.

Fans' wait for the World Cup has, of course, been a little longer than normal this time around – ordinarily the tournament would've already been completed.

Nevertheless, the big kick-off is closing in with Qatar 2022 now just 100 days away – we're into the final straight!

As with any major tournament, predicting a winner in the build-up is just a natural part of being a football fan, even if it can often be a fool's errand.

But considering how integral statistics are to football these days, using data might just give you the edge, and that's where Stats Perform come in.

Our Artificial Intelligence team have used Opta's extensive data reserves to quantify each team's chances of winning the entire tournament.

Every match has been run through the Stats Perform World Cup prediction model to calculate the estimated probability of the outcome (win, draw or loss). This uses odds from betting markets and Stats Perform team rankings, which are based on historical and recent performances.

It takes into consideration the strength of each team's opponents as well as the difficulty of their respective paths to the final, plus the make-up of the groups and any relevant seedings heading into the knockouts.

Then, the rest of the tournament is simulated 40,000 times and analysed, providing the AI team with a percentage for each nation, showing the probability of them ultimately lifting the trophy at the Lusail Stadium on December 18.

Let's check out the results…

FAVOURITES: France (17.9 per cent)

Suspend your disbelief! Yes, reigning champions France have the greatest probability of winning the World Cup this year, with our model giving them an almost 18-per cent chance of clinching a third title.

But let's not overlook how remarkable an achievement that would be. No team has retained the World Cup since Brazil in 1962, and the only other occasion of that happening was in the 1930s when Italy won it back-to-back.

France were the favourites heading into Euro 2020 but were ultimately disappointing – they'll need to do significantly better here otherwise their fate could be sealed by the dreaded winners' curse.

Each of the past four European winners of the World Cup have been eliminated in the group stages, a trend that began with Les Bleus in 2002.

 

2. Brazil (15.7 per cent)

Another unsurprising entry. That's right, record winners Brazil come in at second in terms of likelihood of winning the World Cup.

Tite's side qualified with ease and clearly have an extremely talented group of players available to them – the problem is getting them all on the pitch at one time while retaining a cohesive and balanced shape.

If Tite can find the magic formula at the World Cup this time, at the very least you'd expect them to get beyond the quarter-finals, the stage they crashed out to Belgium four years ago in Kazan.

Failure, however, will mean Brazil's World Cup drought will stretch to 24 years by the time the 2026 edition comes around, and that would make it their joint-longest barren run in the competition since claiming their first title in 1958.

3. Spain (11.5 per cent)

La Roja aren't the force they were as recently as 10 years ago, when they won a third successive major international tournament with victory at Euro 2012.

However, Luis Enrique has turned them into a side that is easy on the eye and capable of carving open the best teams – their main issue in recent years has been finding a reliable striker, and that'll likely be what determines how far they get in Qatar.

Either way, we can surely expect a better showing than they managed in Russia, where they were hindered by the sacking of coach Julen Lopetegui on the eve of the World Cup as a result of accepting a post-tournament role at Real Madrid.

4. England (8.0 per cent)

The Three Lions almost won their first major international trophy since 1966 last year at Euro 2020, only to fall at the final hurdle against Italy.

Either way, few can deny it was a sign of progress: they reached the Russia 2018 semi-finals, the final at Euro 2020, so surely Qatar 2022 is theirs already?

Gareth Southgate has made England an effective tournament side, even if doubts remain over his ability to impose a style of play that sees the Three Lions take the initiative against the biggest teams.

Similarly, their performances in the first round of Nations League fixtures in June left a lot to be desired, but that won't stop expectations from soaring in Qatar.

5. Belgium (7.9 per cent)

Squeezing into the top five ahead of the Netherlands (7.7 per cent) are Belgium, who reached the semi-finals four years ago before being eliminated by eventual winners France.

It's fair to say this is likely to be the last opportunity for the Red Devils' so-called 'golden generation' to truly leave its mark on a major tournament – in fact, many original members of that Belgium generation have already retired.

While success for Roberto Martinez's side looks unlikely, they are a match for any team on their day, and our probability score recognises they are by no means out of contention.

THE REST OF THE FIELD

Netherlands and Germany (7.2) are hard on Belgium's heels in our predictor table, though in both cases fans might feel their squads have more to offer than their neighbours.

Both teams have solid blends of experience and youthful exuberance, while the two coaches have vast experience – Louis van Gaal needs no introduction, while Hansi Flick has been involved in the Germany setup for much of his coaching career.

But the teams many will be looking out for because of certain individuals are Argentina (6.5 per cent) and Portugal (5.1 per cent).

 

They are the only other two to be given more than a 2.3 per cent chance of World Cup success, and given the presence of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, they cannot be discounted.

Argentina have rebuilt since a somewhat shambolic campaign in Russia, with Lionel Scaloni inspiring La Albiceleste to their first Copa America in 28 years in 2021.

Messi was central to their triumph in that tournament, and now he's got the proverbial monkey off his back, there's hope Argentina could produce a respectable showing.

With Ronaldo 37 and Messi 35, it's unlikely either will play another World Cup. Given the tournament is synonymous with those generally regarded as the best ever – Pele and Diego Maradona – they will be desperate to crown their respective careers.

This is it.

 

10. Croatia (2.3 per cent)
11. Denmark (2.0 per cent)
12. Uruguay (1.5 per cent)
13. Mexico (1.4 per cent)
14. Switzerland (1.0 per cent)
15. Poland (0.8 per cent)
16. Iran (0.6 per cent)
17. Japan (0.5 per cent)
18. United States (0.5 per cent)
19. Wales (0.4 per cent)
20. Qatar (0.4 per cent)
21. South Korea (0.4 per cent)
22. Serbia (0.2 per cent)
23. Senegal (0.2 per cent)
24. Ecuador (0.2 per cent)
25. Australia (0.1 per cent)
26. Ghana (

Galatasaray have confirmed the double signing of Dries Mertens and Lucas Torreira.

The Turkish Super Lig side announced they were in negotiations for both players on Saturday, with images circulating on social media of the pair travelling to Istanbul from Milan.

Mertens, a free agent following the end of his nine-year stint with Napoli, has penned a one-year deal with the club.

The Belgium international won the Coppa Italia twice during his time in Naples and was a member of the Red Devils squad that came third in the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

At 35-years-old, Mertens is yet to announce his international retirement and could yet feature at this year's World Cup in Qatar, where Belgium will be in Group F alongside Canada, Croatia and Morocco.

Torreira, meanwhile, had fallen down the pecking order at Arsenal, spending the past two seasons on loan with Atletico Madrid and Fiorentina. He has signed a four-year contract.

Capped 39 times by Uruguay, the midfielder will be aiming to represent the South Americans in Qatar – who sit in Group H with Ghana, Portugal and South Korea.

Frank Lampard revealed Everton are "very close" to finalising the signing of Lille midfielder Amadou Onana, as he predicted the Belgium international will have a "big impact" at the club.

Everton suffered a frustrating 1-0 defeat to Chelsea in their Premier League opener on Saturday, with Ben Godfrey and Yerry Mina sustaining injuries just three days after Dominic Calvert-Lewin was ruled out for up to six weeks. 

But Toffees supporters are set to receive some positive news after Onana travelled to Merseyside to finalise a transfer reportedly worth up to £33.7million (€40m), having made 43 appearances for Lille in all competitions last season.

And Lampard, who has already added James Tarkowski, Dwight McNeil and Ruben Vinagre to his squad since warding off the threat of relegation last season, expects big things from the towering midfielder. 

"I can talk about Onana because he's here today," Lampard told Sky Sports.

Asked what the 20-year-old will bring to the Toffees, Lampard added: "A lot, I'm a big fan, that's why he's coming. 

"When you come in as a manager you want to influence the team's style, the way that we play. [He's] a midfield player, a young player that has – for me – everything in terms of physicality, quality on the ball, energy, and defensive mindset; an all-rounder.

"For me, he has a big future and he's going to have a big impact on the club. He's a good lad, he's got a good confidence about him, so that's the way we want to go.

"I think he comes in at a really good age for us, I don't want to hang too much on him, it sounds like I'm building him up, but I'm very pleased that we're very close to doing that one."

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