We are edging closer to the release of Football Manager 2020 on November 19, meaning new elements and features of the game are seeing the light of day.

That also means talk of those precious 'wonderkids' is starting, as managers look to get a head start on which young talents to snap up early instead of forking out massive sums for the same kids a few years down the line.

A player's potential is never a guarantee of future success. Injuries, a lack of faith from the manager or poor mentality can cause havoc with so-called 'hot prospects'.

Vinicius Junior, Rodrygo Goes, Jadon Sancho and Kai Havertz are all 'wonderkid' certainties, but only a select few clubs will ever be able to afford them.

But, with the right guidance, the following lesser-known players could prove to be similarly smart acquisitions and cost significantly less...

Dillon Hoogewerf - Manchester United

A 16-year-old forward, Hoogewerf was one of the hottest prospects in Ajax's academy before Manchester United snapped him up ahead of this season. A silky dribbler and all-round attacking threat, he promises to be a talent would-be United bosses will want to focus on the development of. On the flipside, youngsters don't always reach their potential at the biggest clubs, meaning he might prove an interesting option to smaller sides… if you're patient.

Pedrinho - Corinthians

The latest - after Vinicius and Rodrygo - in a long line of Brazilian talents to be dubbed the 'next Neymar', Pedrinho looks destined for the top. An outrageously skilful attacker who usually plays out wide for Corinthians, the 21-year-old likes to come in off the right flank and on to his left foot, as he relishes a shot after beating his man. Comparisons with Arjen Robben are understandable, but the quicker you make a move, the less you'll have to stump up.

Sandro Tonali - Brescia

Given Tonali now has a full season of professional football under his belt, he's likely to be one of the hardest to attain from this list. Nevertheless, he is still at Brescia despite links with the big Italian clubs, therefore making him a tantalising proposition if you've got a bit of a budget to play with. Dubbed the 'next Andrea Pirlo', Tonali is a deep-lying midfielder who possesses a brilliant range of passing. He will also be among the very best teenagers right at the start of the game.

Antonio Marin - Dinamo Zagreb

A favourite of many on FM19 due to his immense potential and relatively low cost, left-winger Marin should still be a hot prospect and fairly attainable. He made seven league appearances for Dinamo last season, most of them coming in the final few months of the campaign, so his fee is unlikely to have rocketed just yet. Securing the 18-year-old in a deal that sees him remain in Croatia on loan for a season could be wise for his development, particularly if Dani Olmo is sold in the first few months of the game.

Devyne Rensch - Ajax

As you might expect from an Ajax academy product, Rensch is calm and composed in possession and a fine reader of the game from centre-back. He has already signed professional terms despite being only 16, so you won't be able to poach him like United have done with Hoogewerf, but he certainly shouldn't be considered unattainable. Similarly, Perr Schuurs is another interesting option at centre-back, though at 19 and now exposed to first-team football with the Dutch champions, he could be trickier to acquire.

Julian Aude - Lanus

Although Argentinian football can truly be a treasure trove of promising talent, work permits are often an issue for many players, particularly if they're young. But with Aude you shouldn't have such problems, as the 16-year-old also has Italian citizenship. The Lanus academy product has impressed with Argentina's youth sides due to his remarkable technical wizardry for a full-back, while he's also a tenacious competitor. Obviously, his age makes Aude a gamble, but he'll be affordable for many and there's little doubt about his potential, it's just a case of nurturing him.

Bryan Gil - Sevilla

The production line that nurtured Jesus Navas, Antonio Puerta, Sergio Ramos and Jose Antonio Reyes has gone a little stagnant in recent years, but Bryan arrived on the scene last term and made 11 substitute appearances in LaLiga, making an impact on the left flank in most - if not all - of them. Unless you want him on loan, he'll be difficult to sign initially for smaller clubs, but if he does become a realistic target at any point, he will provide a strong option as an out-and-out, old-fashioned left winger.

Odin Thiago Holm - Valerenga

A technically gifted central midfielder, Holm, 16, is yet to make a splash in the Valerenga first team. However, he is very highly rated in Norway, with his ability on the ball and eye for a pass drawing comparisons – perhaps predictable, given his name – with Bayern Munich star Thiago Alcantara. Considering his relative unknown status and the fact he is not playing in one of the more fashionable leagues, Holm would likely be a cheap, low-risk purchase that could really pay dividends down the line for managers aiming for a long stay.

Fernando Ovelar - Cerro Porteno

It's still to be confirmed if Ovelar will be on the game, as he is only 15. However, he has already made nine appearances for Cerro Porteno in Paraguay and scored his first goal in November 2018 when he was just 14, making him the Paraguayan Primera Division's youngest scorer and appearance maker. Although it's still early days in his career, he's a skilful and gifted forward, and if you fancy yourself as a manager adept at bringing youth talents through to the first team, he could be a shrewd investment.

Ronaldo Camara - Benfica

Already a regular for Benfica's Under-19s despite being 16, Camara is a potential diamond. A well-rounded attacking midfielder, the Guinea-Bissau native is not your average playmaker. He has a fine range of passing and can certainly dribble, but he is also a tireless worker and loves to tackle. Benfica are famous for selling cheaply acquired talents for huge sums and Camara looks to be of the same ilk… unless you can get him early.

Mauricio Pochettino's Tottenham may have been humiliated 7-2 by Bayern Munich in the Champions League, but he is a target for the German giants.

With Niko Kovac overseeing an inconsistent start to the season in Munich, Bayern are reportedly willing to move on from the former Eintracht Frankfurt boss.

That could open the door for Pochettino, whose Tottenham have struggled to reach the heights of last season following their memorable run to the Champions League final.

 

TOP STORY – BAYERN CONSIDER POCH

Bayern Munich are considering Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino as a replacement for Niko Kovac, according to Sport1.

Kovac has found himself under increasing criticism following Bayern's inconsistent start to the season.

Ajax head coach Erik ten Hag – who previously worked with Bayern's reserve team – has also been linked, but sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic has reportedly identified Pochettino as the man to replace Kovac should he depart.

 

ROUND-UP

- According to Mundo Deportivo, Atletico Madrid are eyeing Napoli's Faouzi Ghoulam. The left-back is out of favour and set to leave the Serie A outfit in January.

- Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain are keen to sign Borussia Dortmund's Lukasz Piszczek and Juventus midfielder Emre Can, claims Soccerlink. Piszczek's contract expires at the end of the season, while Can is reportedly eager to leave after being left out of Juve's Champions League squad.

- Sport Bild says Liverpool have joined the race to sign Valencia sensation Ferran Torres. The 19-year-old winger has attracted interest from Dortmund and Barcelona.

Arkadiusz Milik has agreed a contract extension with Napoli, reports Calciomercato. The Poland international's current deal runs out in 2021.

- Former AC Milan boss Gennaro Gattuso is favourite to take charge of Udinese. It comes as Sky Sport Italia, Tuttomercatoweb and La Gazzetta dello Sport claim Igor Tudor's position is being considered after consecutive 7-1 and 4-0 routs in Serie A.

Dortmund have set their sights on Hertha Berlin's Javairo Dilrosun, according to Bild. As the German side reportedly prepare for life without Jadon Sancho amid ongoing links to Manchester United, former Manchester City youth-team player Dilrosun is on their radar.

Cristiano Ronaldo was delighted with the way Juventus kept persisting in a nervy 2-1 win against Serie A strugglers Genoa on Wednesday.

Both sides ended with 10 men and it looked like they would share a point after Christian Kouame's bizarre goal cancelled out Leonardo Bonucci's opener in Turin.

Genoa's Kouame shot the ball with his right foot into his trailing left leg, producing a wicked deflection that wrong-footed Juve goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon and appeared as if it may earn Thiago Motta's side a draw.

Ronaldo had a 92nd-minute goal disallowed after VAR ruled he was offside, but he still had time to be the hero, winning and then scoring a controversial late penalty.

"I am very happy," Ronaldo told Sky Sport Italia.

"[It was] a very difficult match against an organised team but we are Juventus, the motto is to [fight to] the end.

"We are very happy with the three points. We created a lot and we deserved it.

"Inter ahead in the standings was an extra stimulus."

Ronaldo's late spot-kick saw Juventus replace Inter at the top of Serie A – Maurizio Sarri's men one point clear.

Genoa had to play more than 40 minutes with 10 men after Francesco Cassata was given his marching orders in the 51st minute for another foul on Paulo Dybala.

Both of Cassata's yellow cards came for challenges on Dybala.

Referee Antonio Giua levelled things up at the Allianz Stadium in the 87th minute, when Juventus substitute Adrien Rabiot was given a second yellow card.

Many sides would have sat back and taken a point from there, but Juve kept persisting as Ronaldo produced a typical dose of late drama.

Cristiano Ronaldo scored a 96th-minute penalty as champions Juventus scraped to a 2-1 Serie A win over strugglers Genoa on Wednesday, in a game that both sides ended with 10 men.

Genoa looked set to earn a hard-fought point in Thiago Motta's second game in charge after Christian Kouame's freak goal had cancelled out Leonardo Bonucci's 36th-minute header.

Both sides had a men sent off in the second half, Genoa's Francesco Cassata and Juve's Adrien Rabiot given their marching orders, before Ronaldo took centre stage.

The Portuguese first had a 92nd-minute tap in ruled out by VAR for offside. But that was far from the end of the drama, and there was still time for Ronaldo to fire a sluggish Juve to victory, as the striker himself won the decisive penalty following a coming-together with substitute Antonio Sanabria - VAR this time going in his favour after the spot-kick was checked by the officials.

 

FT | | WHAT A LAST-MINUTE FINISH AT THE ALLIANZ!!!!!!! #JuveGenoa #FinoAllaFine #ForzaJuve pic.twitter.com/ksl2Gnp5D0

— JuventusFC (@juventusfcen) October 30, 2019

Juve coach Maurizio Sarri had said in the build-up that his side were suffering a "mental issue" in front of goal and they barely threatened in a tame first 30 minutes against a team with the worst defensive record in the league.

A stunning save from Ionut Radu eventually denied Paulo Dybala the opener and that chance finally woke Juventus up from their slumber, as Bonucci soon broke the deadlock.

The defender was aided by Radu's decision to come off his line in an attempt to collect Rodrigo Bentancur's corner, the goalkeeper beaten to the ball by Bonucci, who simply nodded into an empty net.

Parity was restored within five minutes, though, thanks to Kouame's slice of accidental glory.

Aiming at goal with his right foot, the Ivorian managed to kick the ball into his trailing leg, the deflection subsequently wrong-footing Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon in his 513rd league appearance for the Italian giants, which saw him equal Alessandro del Piero's club record.

Juve ramped up the pressure after Cassata's 52nd-minute dismissal - for a second yellow card - and Federico Bernardeschi then forced an excellent save from Radu with an effort from distance, before Ronaldo tested the shot-stopper from a corner.

Home substitute Douglas Costa fizzed a long-range effort agonisingly wide before Rabiot was given his marching orders - a foul on Sinan Gumus earning him a second yellow - but the hosts still found a way in the dying stages to claim the points, thanks to a spell of VAR-heavy drama.

Initially, Ronaldo scored and celebrated before his goal was disallowed for offside, but then a debatable penalty followed and the Portuguese star stepped up to thump home and send Juventus back to the top of the Serie A table.

 

What it means

Juventus remain the only unbeaten side in Serie A and victory takes them back to the top of the table, one point ahead of Inter. Genoa are just one point above the bottom three in 17th.

 

Dybala's star turn

Juventus were far from their fluent best, meaning Dybala really stood out in an excellent performance.

The Argentina star struck fear into Genoa every time he got the ball, his creativity and ability on the ball particularly eye-catching.

 

Cassata pays the price

Genoa's game plan when Dybala got the ball was obvious: foul him.

Cassata brought Dybala down twice in the first three minutes and was booked for the second, leaving him walking a tightrope for the remainder of the contest.

And the 22-year-old could not help himself, given a second yellow card in the 51st minute for pulling back ... Dybala.

 

What's next?

Juventus visit Torino for a much-anticipated derby on Saturday, while Genoa go in search of successive Serie A home wins for the first time since September last year.

Kylian Mbappe is the star attraction of the latest Team of the Week on FIFA Ultimate Team after he scored twice for Paris Saint-Germain in the 4-0 Classique win over Marseille on Sunday.

Although the Frenchman has had an injury-hit start to the season, he has still managed to net eight goals in nine appearances across all competitions, with PSG looking sharp.

He is not joined in the team by Jamie Vardy, however. The striker scored a hat-trick as Leicester City equalled the record for the biggest Premier League win when they demolished Southampton 9-0 on Friday.

Instead of the English forward, his Leicester team-mate Ayoze Perez – who also netted a treble – gets the nod, though he only takes a place among the substitutes, with Ben Chilwell the only Foxes star in the starting XI.

Below, we have the full squad of in-form cards that are now up for grabs online.

FUT Team of the Week

GK: Matz Sels (Strasbourg) – 82

CB: Domagoj Vida (Besiktas) – 83

CB: Nicolas Nkoulou (Torino) – 84

LB: Ben Chilwell (Leicester City) – 82

RM: Karim Bellarabi (Bayer Leverkusen) – 84

CM: Saul Niguez (Atletico Madrid) – 86

CDM: Fabinho (Liverpool) – 86

LW: Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain) – 90

CAM: Yusuf Yazici (Lille) – 82

ST: Carlos Vela (Los Angeles FC) – 85

ST: Josip Ilicic (Atalanta) – 86

SUBSTITUTES

GK: Gabriel (Lecce) – 81

CB: Bernardo Espinosa (Espanyol) – 81

LM: Christian Pulisic (Chelsea) – 82

CAM: Calvin Stengs (AZ) – 81

RW: Ayoze Perez (Leicester City) – 82

ST: Karl Toko-Ekambi (Villarreal) – 82

ST: Aleksandar Mitrovic (Fulham) – 82

RESERVES

CAM: Zelimkhan Bakaev (Spartak Moscow) – 78

RM: Maicol Balanta (Independiente Santa Fe) – 75

LM: Amahl Pellegrino (Kristiansund) – 72

ST: Kodjo Fo-Doh Laba (Al Ain) – 79

ST: Eoin Doyle (Swindon Town) – 73

Napoli defender Kevin Malcuit has undergone surgery on the anterior cruciate ligament he damaged in Sunday's Serie A game against SPAL.

Malcuit left the pitch in tears after seriously injuring his right knee in the second half of the 1-1 draw at Stadio Paolo Mazza.

Scans confirmed the worst for the 28-year-old, who could now miss the rest of the season.

Napoli described the surgery as "perfectly successful" but Carlo Ancelotti will be forced to turn to a third right-back as first-choice Elseid Hysaj continues his recovery from a fractured sternum.

The left-sided Faouzi Ghoulam looked to be a stop-gap solution until he suffered a muscle problem in training earlier this week.

Napoli are back in action at home to Atalanta on Wednesday, ahead of a weekend trip to Roma.

AC Milan have to be realistic about their league position and accept they have not been good enough this season, boss Stefano Pioli has admitted.

The Rossoneri have won three of their opening nine Serie A matches and are just three points above the relegation zone ahead of Thursday's home clash with SPAL.

Pioli was brought in to replace Marco Giampaolo earlier this month but has collected only one point from a possible six.

Milan followed up a 2-2 draw with Lecce in Pioli's first match with a 2-1 loss to Roma on Sunday and the head coach has acknowledged his players have to start giving more on the pitch.

"We have to be realistic and admit this is not a positive moment for us, but we are better than what we showed on Sunday," he said at Wednesday's pre-match news conference.

"There's time to improve our standings and I want people who are fired up, motivated and want to prove themselves. If we are in this position, it means we've made mistakes. I need to see players who won't hold back.

"It's important to take it one game at a time, with the right battling spirit. We want to be the best when it comes to spirit and determination.

"If anyone has fears, it's time to put them to one side. There is much to be done, but if we believe in ourselves, then anything is possible."

Suso has been ever-present for Milan this term and has recently been criticised for a string of below-par displays, but Pioli has again defended the under-fire winger.

"I have no doubts on Suso’s quality. It's wrong to blame all of Milan's difficulties on just one player. Everyone must give more," he said.

"We want to build out from the back, but the problem against Roma was the lack of movement, which meant we had few passing options open for team-mates. We need to be more concentrated and make the right choice at the right time.

"The fans are not stupid - they can tell when a team is playing with the right spirit and effort. It's up to us to get the fans on our side. Playing good football represents an advantage, but if there's a characteristic we need in these next few games, it's spirit."

Rafael Leao has started both matches under Pioli but Krzysztof Piatek, a second-half substitute against Lecce and Roma, could return to the fold.

Hinting at a change from the 4-3-3 system he has used so far, Pioli said: "I chose Rafael against Roma and frankly expected more from him in that game. They could play together. I have to make the right choices at this moment for the team.

"I've never been wedded to a single tactical system in my career, so anything is possible. It's all about understanding the main characteristics of the squad and putting the strongest players in their best positions."

Cristiano Ronaldo has returned to Juventus' squad for their Serie A clash with Genoa, but Gonzalo Higuain and Miralem Pjanic miss out through injury.

Portugal superstar Ronaldo was rested for Juve's trip to Lecce on Saturday, a decision that backfired as the Italian champions were held to a 1-1 draw.

Head coach Maurizio Sarri defended his decision to overlook Ronaldo for selection but has recalled the 34-year-old for Wednesday's home match against Genoa.

However, there is no place in the 22-man squad for Higuain, who came off worse in an aerial collision with Lecce goalkeeper Gabriel late in the match.

Pjanic has featured in every competitive game for Juve this campaign, meanwhile, but will miss out against Genoa after pulling up last time out, though the club have confirmed he did not suffer any muscular damage.

Aaron Ramsey is back after missing Juve's last three squads with a muscle injury, while Douglas Costa is also in contention following a seven-week absence.

Sarri's side trail Serie A leaders Inter by two points ahead of Wednesday's game in hand at Allianz Stadium.

Juventus are not resting on their laurels.

Despite their domestic dominance, Juve are craving European glory as they eye a first Champions League crown since 1995.

So much so that they have three Premier League stars on their mind.

 

TOP STORY – JUVE WATCH SALAH, SON & ERIKSEN

Juventus scouts watched Mohamed Salah, Son Heung-min and Christian Eriksen during Liverpool's Premier League clash with Tottenham, according to Tuttosport.

Seeking a ninth successive Scudetto, Serie A champions Juve are prepared to spend heavily in pursuit of Champions League glory.

With money no obstacle as they reap the benefits of Cristiano Ronaldo's presence, Liverpool star Salah and Tottenham duo Son and Eriksen are reportedly on Juve's list.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Sun claims Jose Mourinho wants to become the first manager to win major trophies with three English clubs as the former Manchester United boss is linked to Arsenal. Gunners head coach Unai Emery is under pressure at the Emirates Stadium amid growing fan frustration.

Manchester United are hopeful of completing a deal for Lyon striker Moussa Dembele in January, reports Soccerlink. With Dembele's future uncertain, Lyon are lining up Chelsea's Olivier Giroud.

- Staying at Old Trafford and United's name has again been thrown into the mix for Brescia sensation Sandro Tonali. The 19-year-old Italy international is fast becoming one of the most sought-after players in Europe, attracting interest from Juventus, Manchester City and Inter. Now, The Suns says United are weigning up a £40million move for Tonali after sending scouts to watch him once more.

- Calciomercato claims Napoli are considering a January move for Benfica full-back Alejandro Grimaldo. The 24-year-old Spaniard has been linked to Arsenal, Tottenham and Barcelona.

Newcastle United are close to agreeing a deal to sign Strasbourg's Ibrahima Sissoko. The 21-year-old French midfielder is poised to make the switch when the transfer window opens in January.

Antonio Conte fears Inter's hectic schedule could eventually catch up with his team despite the Nerazzurri moving top of Serie A on Tuesday.

Inter leapfrogged Juventus by two points atop the summit, albeit having played a game more, after beating Brescia 2-1 thanks to goals from Lautaro Martinez and Romelu Lukaku at Stadio Rigamonti. 

However, head coach Conte – who is without the likes of Alexis Sanchez and Stefano Sensi due to injury – admitted his concerns about Inter running out of steam amid a busy domestic and European schedule. 

"It becomes difficult to talk about the game, because the same players are out there constantly. They struggled to an extraordinary degree," Conte told Sky Sport Italia.

"It was our fourth game in nine days, with the same players. Any situation or result is acceptable at that point. All we can do is thank them for the spirit they showed to hang in until the end.

"Now we're only halfway there, as we have another game with Bologna, then Borussia Dortmund and we'll have seven games in 20 days before we get to rest. It's an anomaly and I haven't seen any other side with a fixture list like that, so it seemed very strange to me.

"Some games you need to win just by suffering. They must understand that for many reasons, as for example the hosts are pushing to turn the result around, you have to soak up the pressure, hang in there and I challenge anyone to play four games in nine days while getting a victory at Brescia."

Conte added: "We're top of the table, but pushing the engine to the max and it can't go much longer."

Martinez made it seven club goals for the campaign but conceded it was a tough night for Inter, who were made to sweat following Milan Skriniar's late own goal.

"It was difficult, a very intense game against a team that moves very well," Martinez told Sky Sport Italia.

"We knew that it was going to be tough to take the three points here, but we tried to impose our football, knowing full well Brescia would clam up and defend.

"Some fatigue is natural, as we play with a great deal of intensity every three days, so that needs a lot of physical effort. We are nonetheless happy with the work we're doing for our coach.

"As always, we take it one game at a time, know we are doing very well and it's important to once again return from an away fixture with three points."

Lautaro Martinez and Romelu Lukaku were on target as Inter moved top of Serie A with a 2-1 victory at Brescia.

Martinez opened the scoring with a deflected first-half effort before Lukaku got in on the act with a stunning 63rd-minute solo goal in Tuesday's clash at Stadio Mario Rigamonti.

Milan Skriniar's own goal 14 minutes from time gave Brescia hope, yet they were left to rue missed chances by Mario Balotelli on what proved a frustrating outing for the striker against the side where he made his name.

The win sent Antonio Conte's side two points above reigning champions Juventus at the summit, although the Bianconeri can reclaim top spot when they face Genoa on Wednesday.

Inter were deservedly ahead by the 23rd minute, although there was more than a slice of luck about their goal. Martinez's long-range effort took a wicked deflection off Andrea Cistana and looped over Brescia goalkeeper Enrico Alfonso.

Brescia were much improved in the second half, with Balotelli threatening with a low strike before failing to get a decisive touch from close range following a goalmouth scramble.

The home side were made to pay in the 63rd minute when Lukaku cut in superbly from the right and fired a fine left-footed shot from 20 yards inside the far post.

Balotelli had a header kept out by Samir Handanovic and blasted the rebound over, but Brescia pulled one back when the goalkeeper blocked Dimitri Bisoli's cross but saw it rebound in off Skriniar.

However, an equaliser in the closing stages proved beyond them and Inter held on to return to winning ways after a 2-2 draw against Parma on Saturday.

Juventus are dealing with a "mental issue" when it comes to scoring, according to coach Maurizio Sarri, who has been left disappointed by the lack of goals so far this season.

Sarri's unbeaten side sit top of Serie A, though they hold a slender lead over second-place Inter, whose only defeat came against the Bianconeri.

Juve drew 1-1 with Lecce on Saturday as the decision to rest Cristiano Ronaldo backfired, Gonzalo Higuain, Leonardo Bonucci and Federico Bernardeschi particularly wasteful.

Though they have conceded just eight goals in league action, the reigning champions are the lowest scorers in the the top four as they prepare to host Genoa on Wednesday.

"We are adapting to a new style of football, so it's only natural that it will take a little while to perfect. We can improve a great deal and are on the right track," Sarri told a pre-match news conference.

"The feeling is that we still have some more room for improvement and important potential to express ourselves.

"We have a very low average of shots finding not just the net, but the frame of the goal. In my view, it's more of a mental issue than anything else.

"I expressed my fear with the players about that and we'll try to prepare some training exercises to help, but we also need to be more determined in front of goal.

"We are still the best defence in Serie A. This league has changed, the average goals of all the teams has gone up and in general it is a more prolific competition.

"Besides, lately we conceded pretty much exclusively from penalties, so we need to keep an eye on those situations."

Juve could take on Genoa without Miralem Pjanic and Higuain after they suffered injuries against Lecce, though Douglas Costa may possibly make a return to action in the midweek fixture.

"Pjanic does not have a muscular lesion, but we'll see how he does. Yesterday, he was not in a condition to play," Sarri added. 

"Higuain had a violent knock to the head and was not in good shape yesterday, he had stitches and was shaken up, but again we'll see the situation today. If Higuain can't make it, then it's very unlikely we can make a 4-3-3 work.

"Costa is returning after 45 days out and only had one training session with the squad, but we'll see if he's able to play a few minutes."

Cristiano Ronaldo says he would have been "an imbecile" if he failed to learn from the likes of Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs during his early days at Manchester United.

The Portugal international made his name at Old Trafford after joining the Premier League club from Sporting CP in 2003 at the age of 18.

He scored 118 goals in six seasons with United and has since starred for Real Madrid and current side Juventus, recently netting his 700th career goal for club and country.

When asked how he developed into such a prolific forward, Ronaldo told France Football: "By using my brain. If you've got a little intelligence, you look and take example from those who are doing things better than you. 

"That's what I did when I was in Manchester with Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Ruud van Nistelrooy, Rio Ferdinand… if you don't learn from guys like that, you're an imbecile. 

"The goal isn't to imitate but to take aspects from those who are the best and adapt it to your own personality. That's what I did. I had some talent and I watched them.

"Sir Alex Ferguson also taught me a lot, and I realised I had the potential to score, not only dribble and pass. I started to think of being a complete player without any weakness.

"I could score with my right foot, my left foot and my head. I'm strong and I'm quick. If you have this and a real ethic and a good lifestyle, you can still do it at 34-and-a-half."

Ronaldo has won five Ballons d'Or and has been shortlisted for this year's award after an impressive debut campaign in Serie A with Juve.

Now into his 18th campaign at senior level, the Portuguese remains as driven as ever to remain at the top of his game.

Reflecting on Juve's 2-1 comeback win at home to Lokomotiv Moscow in the Champions League last week, Ronaldo said: "They refused to play and parked the bus in front of their goal.

"It was hard to score. I didn't do it and I was frustrated at the end. That's normal. The most important thing is that the team wins.

"But when I went back to the dressing room, I chilled out. After the match, I went to dinner with friends. I got home at four in the morning. I had a glass of iced water before bed. I slept until 10 then I had my breakfast.

"At 11, I went to work in the gym. If you don't have that discipline every day, you can't stay at the top for 15 years."

The Gareth Bale transfer saga continues to roll on as he remains frozen out at Spanish giants Real Madrid with seemingly no way back.

The 30-year-old was linked with a move to China in the summer but the move did not materialise and Bale has since continued to find himself out of favour with Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane.

All is not lost for Bale though with three Premier League clubs battling for the Welshman's signature in January, as he builds towards a possible Euro 2020 campaign with Wales next June.

 

TOP STORY – PREMIER LEAGUE TRIO KEEN TO SIGN BALE IN JANUARY

Manchester United, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur have all been linked with a January swoop for Real Madrid forward Gareth Bale, according to AS.

The three Premier League giants are seeking solutions to solve inconsistent starts to their respective seasons and believe the Welshman could provide a timely boost leading into 2020.

Bale is seen as the perfect fit for a return to Premier League football, having maintained his good reputation from time spent with Southampton and Spurs, but it remains to be seen whether Madrid's asking price or the player's wage demands will be met. 

Marca believe Bale could revisit a potential move to China, however, with the player's agent believed to be in talks with Chinese Super League side Shanghai Shenhua.

 

ROUND-UP

- Inter Milan are hopeful of signing Spurs defender Jan Vertonghen on a free transfer this summer, according to The Guardian.

- Sky Italia say Inter are also considering a move for out-of-favour Manchester United midfielder Nemanja Matic, which would see the Serbian reunite with Antonio Conte.

- Staying in Serie A and Corriere dello Sport claim Roma have rejected the opportunity to sign former Sunderland flop Jack Rodwell on a free transfer.

- Corriere dello Sport also believe Napoli have pulled the plug on a potential move for Salzburg star Erling Braut Haaland as they expect the 19-year-old to join Manchester United in January.

- Manchester City will replace Leroy Sane with Real Sociedad playmaker Mikel Oyarzabal should the Germany winger get his move to Bayern Munich, according to Sky Sports.

- Turkish news outlet Takvim claim Besiktas are keen to cancel their two-year loan agreement with Liverpool for goalkeeper Loris Karius.

Juventus have confirmed Miralem Pjanic did not suffer a muscle injury in Saturday's 1-1 draw with Lecce.

Playmaker Pjanic – who has featured in every competitive game for Juve this season – pulled up sharply and left the field gingerly 67 minutes into the clash at Stadio Via del Mare.

Examinations on Monday did not show any muscular damage for the Bosnia-Herzegovina international, with the club confirming the 29-year-old took part in a personalised session in the gym.

Gonzalo Higuain also undertook a gym session after requiring a stretcher at full-time of Saturday's game.

Higuain came off worse in an aerial collision with goalkeeper Gabriel but played on, with Sarri confirming the striker was conscious and lucid despite having to be carried from the pitch after the final whistle.

Douglas Costa – who has not played since the 0-0 draw with Fiorentina on September 14 – took part in full training, while Aaron Ramsey participated in in a section of the session after missing out on the past three matchday squads.

Juventus are back in Serie A action on Wednesday when Genoa travel to the Allianz Stadium.

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