Inter star Lautaro Martinez's future could be closer to being sorted, while Frank Lampard is under enormous pressure.

After impressing at Inter, Martinez, 23, has been strongly linked with a move to Barcelona.

The Argentina international is contracted at Inter until 2023, but that could be set to change.

 

TOP STORY – INTER OPTIMISTIC OVER MARTINEZ RENEWAL

Inter are optimistic about reaching an agreement for a new contract with Lautaro Martinez, according to Sky Sport.

The report says Martinez's agents met with Inter on Wednesday.

Martinez has scored nine goals in 18 Serie A games this season, having netted 14 in 35 in the league in 2019-20, leading to interest from Barcelona.

 

ROUND-UP

- As Chelsea's struggles continue, Lampard is under growing pressure as head coach. Sky Sports reports the former England international will lose his job unless results improve immediately. Chelsea have lost five of their past eight Premier League games to slip to eighth in the table. The Independent, meanwhile, reports Chelsea are not interested in an interim replacement. Former Paris Saint-Germain boss Thomas Tuchel, RB Leipzig coach Julian Nagelsmann, Southampton's Ralph Hasenhuttl and ex-Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri have been linked.

- Previously linked to Arsenal, Houssem Aouar may be looking elsewhere if he leaves Lyon. ESPN claims the midfielder is eager to join Barcelona or Real Madrid.

- Set to stay at Manchester City until the end of the season, Eric Garcia has been linked with a move to Barcelona when his deal expires in June. However, Mundo Deportivo says PSG are planning a move for the defender.

- Arsenal could make moves in January. Sky Sports reports they have approached Real Madrid about a move for Martin Odegaard, while Cuatro claims Sevilla are hoping to loan the midfielder.

Diego Simeone said LaLiga leaders Atletico Madrid are poised to confirm the signing of Lyon forward Moussa Dembele.

Atletico and Lyon have been in "very advanced" negotiations regarding a deal that will see Dembele move to the Wanda Metropolitano on loan with an option to buy.

Atleti will reportedly be able to secure Dembele for a €35million fee should the former France Under-21 international impress on loan before the end of the season.

Dembele has scored just once in 16 Ligue 1 games for Lyon this season, having hit 24 in 46 across all competitions in 2019-20.

Simeone was asked about Dembele following Tuesday's 2-0 LaLiga victory over Sevilla in the Spanish capital.

"It is very advanced," Atletico head coach Simeone said post-match. "We are going to confirm it."

Atletico extended their lead atop LaLiga to four points thanks to goals from Angel Correa and Saul Niguez against visiting Sevilla.

Correa broke the deadlock in the 17th minute before Atletico team-mate Saul put the result beyond doubt with 14 minutes remaining.

Of Correa's goals for Atletico, 19 out of 39 across all competitions have been the opening goal of a match, per Opta.

Atletico, meanwhile, are one of the two teams with the most clean sheets in the top five European leagues this season (11 in 16 fixtures) – level with Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain.

On Saul, who has only started seven of 13 LaLiga games this term, Simeone said: "Like everything in life, the first one who has to want to get out of the difficulty is oneself and Saul loves it.

"He knew he was not well and has always worked. Since he was 18 years old, he has had to live things very good and now he has to live another and Saul is helping himself and is already getting out of the situation he was in."

Simeone was named the best coach of the decade by the International Federation of Football History and Statistics (IFFHS) this week.

"I am not aware of that," said Simeone, who guided Atletico to LaLiga glory in 2014 and Champions League finals in 2014 and 2016.

"We focus on improving the team, we work daily, we have made an important change in the game. That is healthy and gives us great joy for the number of players who have joined us and that allows us to be.

"With the energy of the first day I got on the plane with the mentality of taking the team to the top of Europe."

Atletico Madrid extended their lead at LaLiga's summit to four points as they saw off Sevilla 2-0 at the Wanda Metropolitano on Tuesday.

Sevilla could have become the first team to draw three successive away games at the Wanda, but Atletico produced a vintage display of clinical finishing and resolute defending as they improved their position at the top of the table.

Atletico edged an even first half and went ahead through Angel Correa's clinical finish with just over quarter of an hour played, though Sevilla did trouble Jan Oblak through Ivan Rakitic and Youssef En-Nesyri.

The visitors dominated proceedings in the second period but struggled to find a way through Atletico's famously shrewd defence, who ultimately claimed an 11th clean sheet in LaLiga this term as Saul Niguez put the game beyond Sevilla in the latter stages.

Sevilla looked bright in the opening exchanges as Rakitic tested Oblak early on, but they found themselves trailing in the 17th minute – Correa picking out the bottom-right corner with a snapshot on the swivel that caught Yassine Bounou unsighted in goal.

Atletico were fortunate at the other end soon after.

Oblak initially rushed out to thwart En-Nesyri and the ball fell kindly to Marcos Acuna, but the left-back shot wide of the empty net with the hosts' goalkeeper stranded.

Luis Suarez then threatened before the half-hour mark, but his close-range volley was well blocked by Bounou.

En-Nesyri tried his luck from a tight angle early in the second half, but Oblak had little issue making the save.

But while Sevilla saw much of the ball, that En-Nesyri effort was hardly the start of an onslaught and Atletico picked them off 14 minutes from time.

Marcos Llorente found space behind Acuna and Oscar Rodriguez failed to intercept his cutback, which came to Saul and he swept in from 20 yards to seal the points.

Atletico Madrid are close to signing Moussa Dembele from Lyon, Diego Simeone has confirmed.

The striker is expected to move to the Wanda Metropolitano on a loan deal with an option to buy, having told Lyon he wanted a new challenge.

The agreement has not yet been finalised but Simeone seems confident the move will be completed sooner rather than later.

"It's still not confirmed, but it's very advanced," the Atletico coach told reporters ahead of Tuesday's match with Sevilla.

"I'm going to turn my head towards the game, which is what interests me, and when there's something [on Dembele], if there is something, I'll give an opinion."

Atleti will reportedly be able to secure Dembele for a €35million fee should he impress on loan before the end of the season.

The former France Under-21 international has scored just once in 16 Ligue 1 games this season, having hit 24 in 46 across all competitions in 2019-20.

Simeone's more pressing concern is Tuesday's match with Julen Lopetegui's side, which comes after Atleti's previous game with Athletic Bilbao was called off.

The match, which was due to take place in Madrid on Saturday, was postponed after Storm Filomena brought significant snowfall to the Spanish capital.

Training was severely disrupted over the weekend and Atleti will hold an extra session before facing Sevilla to make sure they are fully prepared.

"With the difficulties we've had, everyone has been at home," Simeone said. "We had no option of getting together or leaving the house. We worked at home on Saturday; on Sunday, a group was able to train together.

"There are no excuses. They're circumstances to which we have to adapt. The most important thing will be tomorrow and what happened before will not matter in terms of the criticism and opinions we receive.

"There'll be two training sessions because tomorrow we'll have another one at midday to finish fine-tuning what we have to do, making the most of the fact the game is in the evening.

"[The pitch] is very good. It looks really good, with a normal condition to be able to compete and I'm sure there won't be any difficulty with the surface."

Simeone also confirmed Kieran Trippier "is really good, he's really excited to play, focused as ever" after being cleared to play.

The full-back was hit with a 10-game ban by the Football Association due to breaches of betting regulations, but he is allowed to feature again in LaLiga after FIFA put his punishment on hold amid an appeal from Atletico.

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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