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.

Manchester United have been granted a golden chance to advance to the EFL Cup's semi-finals after being drawn against fourth-tier Colchester United in the last eight.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side won 2-1 against Chelsea on Wednesday and will now host the lowest-ranked team left in the competition.

Manchester City, comfortable 3-1 winners against Southampton in the last round, have a similarly promising path into the final four as Pep Guardiola's men seek to secure the trophy for the third successive season.

The holders are set to visit Oxford United, who sit fifth in League One, at Kassam Stadium.

The other two ties are both all-Premier League clashes.

Liverpool were drawn away to Aston Villa following a see-sawing shoot-out triumph over Arsenal, while Everton and the under-pressure Marco Silva will welcome high-flying Leicester City to Goodison Park.

Each of the four quarter-final ties are scheduled to take place in the week beginning December 16.

European champions Liverpool are simultaneously due to be in Qatar for the Club World Cup, further complicating an already congested fixture list.

Reds boss Jurgen Klopp threatened to boycott the next stage of the EFL Cup if an appropriate solution to the logjam cannot be found.

"If they don't find an appropriate place for us, not 03:00am on Christmas Day, then we don't play it," Klopp said after the Arsenal encounter, which ended level at 5-5 after 90 minutes.

"They have to make that decision. You have to think about these things."

EFL Cup quarter-final draw in full: 

Oxford United v Manchester City
Manchester United v Colchester United
Aston Villa v Liverpool
Everton v Leicester City

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.

Chelsea head coach Frank Lampard said N'Golo Kante will resume training "in the next two or three days" as he steps up his recovery from a groin strain.

Kante missed Chelsea's 2-1 loss to Manchester United in the EFL Cup fourth round at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday.

The France international has not featured since injuring his groin during the warm-up ahead of his country's Euro 2020 qualifier against Iceland on October 14.

Lampard provided an update on Kante post-match and revealed the Chelsea star is set to return to training before Saturday's clash with Premier League strugglers Watford.

"Training in the next two or three days," Lampard told reporters. "Hopefully [before the international break]. It's important, he's a top player.

"I'd have liked to have given Jorginho and [Mateo] Kovacic a rest tonight because of the work they've put in, but I couldn't today because of N'Golo, Ross [Barkley] and Ruben [Loftus-Cheek] long-term. I couldn't make the changes I wanted to today. It is what it is."

Chelsea succumbed to Marcus Rashford's stunning 73rd-minute free-kick in London, where United moved through to the quarter-finals.

Michy Batshuayi had cancelled out Rashford's 25th-minute penalty after the hour before the United star stepped up and scored a jaw-dropping, Cristiano Ronaldo-esque set piece.

Lampard added: "We've had seven wins on the trot. We've had taxing games in the Champions League. We want to get into the next stage of that. Our form in the league has been really good.

"They're the priorities. But we want to win matches and give everything. Today, I had to look at my squad and who deserves minutes. The young players. The competition has an element of that for us.

"I saw a lot of things that were good for us for the future. A lot of positive things about us. I hate losing. We all do here. But there's a big picture here and a lot of big games to come, and a busy fixture list. Now we focus on what happens next."

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer compared two-goal hero Marcus Rashford to Cristiano Ronaldo following his stunning free kick against Chelsea in the EFL Cup.

Rashford's spectacular 73rd-minute free kick sealed a 2-1 victory away to Chelsea and United's place in the quarter-finals on Wednesday.

Michy Batshuayi had cancelled out Rashford's 25th-minute penalty after the hour before the United star stepped up and scored a jaw-dropping, Ronaldo-esque set piece.

United great Ronaldo spent six years at Old Trafford, where he netted a number of free kicks as he won three Premier League titles and the Champions League before leaving in 2009.

"It's very Cristiano-like, isn't it?" Solskjaer told MUTV. "The boy has got nerves of steel, takes a penalty, no problem. Steps up and hits the ball like he does and wins us the game, fantastic. I think he works too much on [free-kicks]. I've always tried to get Marcus scoring the simple tap-ins and be inside the box, he always scores great goals Marcus, he practises and today he got his reward.

"Marcus has that strike in him. I've seen him in training so many times and it's got to be hitting the target soon, you think, because he's had a few efforts and finally it goes in. My first ever game when I came back at Cardiff he hit a ball from 30 yards, scored after three minutes, so he's encouraged to do more of that."

United defender Victor Lindelof also compared Rashford to five-time Ballon d'Or winner Ronaldo post match.

In a Tweet midweek, Lindelof posted almost identical pictures of Ronaldo and Rashford's free-kick routines, with the caption: "Sure I've seen that somewhere before…"

Wednesday maintained United's good form, which extended to three successive wins following a Premier League victory at Norwich City, having won their Europa League clash away to Partizan Belgrade.

"We're hitting form," Solskjaer told Sky Sports. "Of course, three wins in a row away from home now is good for the boys. We've travelled a lot the last week, but when you get the results, the team spirit, camaraderie, we stay together, so it shows the character of the team.

"We get the games where we want them, or we've been leading 1-0 many, many games this season but we haven't kicked on from there. I thought today we were excellent, counter-attacking football, fast-flowing forward passing, that's Man United and we're trying to get back to that."

Marcus Rashford believes Manchester United are "definitely going places" after their 2-1 EFL Cup victory over Chelsea on Wednesday.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side made it three away wins in a row in all competitions thanks to Rashford's double at Stamford Bridge, which secured their place in the quarter-finals.

Rashford, who missed a penalty before scoring in the weekend's 3-1 Premier League win at Norwich City, broke the deadlock from the spot in the first half and secured the win with a spectacular free-kick after Michy Batshuayi had drawn Chelsea level.

The Red Devils appeared to be facing a crisis when they lost 1-0 to struggling Newcastle United on October 6, but they claimed a creditable 1-1 draw with Liverpool before their three-game winning run on the road.

Their upturn in form has left Rashford feeling confident that better times are on the horizon.

"We have been in a tough place," he told Sky Sports. "We are still getting through that phase and the only way to do it is to fight your way through it.

"The main focus for us is just improvement and development because we are definitely going places.

"We have done a lot of good work. The start of the season wasn't exactly what we expected but we have got to get through it and get back to winning games."

Rashford's decisive strike, his fifth career goal against Chelsea, was a stunning free-kick from 30 yards out that dipped and swerved past the helpless Willy Caballero.

The England international says training with the EFL Cup ball gave him the belief to try his luck from distance.

"To be honest, it was the balls," he said. "When we were training with them and we were shooting, there was this up-and-down motion and they can go anywhere. Thankfully, today it went in the top corner. It is a positive day."

Rashford was also relieved to keep his cool from the penalty spot, having been denied by Tim Krul against Norwich.

"You always step forward to take it and when the moment comes it is just about trying to be relaxed. Thankfully, today I was," he added.

"It made the game a little bit easier for us but the second goal was the one that killed the game."

Manchester United moved into the EFL Cup quarter-finals with a 2-1 win over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday.

A penalty and a spectacular free-kick from Marcus Rashford sealed a third away win in a row in all competitions for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side.

Michy Batshuayi had drawn Chelsea level but Rashford struck in sublime fashion just as the home side looked to be building momentum, inflicting a first defeat on Frank Lampard's side since the 2-1 loss to Liverpool on September 22.

Scott McTominay, booked for an early lunge on Mateo Kovacic, whistled a shot just wide from Daniel James' corner 13 minutes in.

United were growing in confidence and Rashford broke the deadlock with a firmly struck spot-kick in the 25th minute after Marcos Alonso had rather clumsily bundled into the back of Daniel James.

Callum Hudson-Odoi had a quiet first half but should have levelled the scores five minutes into the second, the winger failing to connect properly with Alonso's low cross with the goal at his mercy.

Hudson-Odoi fired over before Batshuayi showed him how it should be done, racing away from Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof and blasting a low shot past Sergio Romero from outside the box.

Solskjaer responded by bringing on Anthony Martial and Andreas Pereira in a tactical shift, but it was Rashford who settled the contest 73 minutes in with a sensational 30-yard free-kick that swerved beyond the helpless Willy Caballero.

 

What does it mean? Momentum building again under Solskjaer

This has been the most encouraging 10 days for Solskjaer since his stunning run of results midway through last season that landed him the post on a full-time basis. A draw with Liverpool and now three consecutive away wins have gone a long way towards restoring some confidence at Old Trafford.

It means United head into Thursday's quarter-final draw, while Chelsea will look to get back on track promptly in the Premier League, having seen a seven-game winning run in all competitions come to an end.

Rashford spot on

Rashford scored twice in the 4-0 Premier League defeat of Chelsea in August and showed a clinical touch again at Stamford Bridge.

His first was a penalty taken with much more conviction than the one he saw saved against Norwich City, while his second was a quite stunning free-kick that will have evoked memories of Cristiano Ronaldo in a red shirt.

Pulisic back off the boil

Christian Pulisic fully deserved to start after his hat-trick against Burnley, but his 70 minutes on the pitch yielded little to trouble United's back line.

What's next?

Chelsea travel to Watford in the Premier League on Saturday, with United heading to Bournemouth earlier on the same day.

Manchester United scored more than once in a Premier League game for just the second time this season in Sunday's 3-1 win at Norwich City.

A first away league victory in nine attempts since February for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men coincided with the return of Anthony Martial, who missed two months of action with a thigh injury prior to returning as a late substitute against Liverpool last week.

Martial started the season in impressive form with two goals and an assist in his first three outings, including a strike in the 4-0 win against Chelsea - the only other occasion United have scored more than once in a game in any competition since April.

Solskjaer this week talked up Martial's importance and is hopeful his relationship with strike partner Marcus Rashford - also on the scoresheet at Carrow Road - will "improve and grow" over time.

With the help of Opta stats, we look at the impact Martial has had since arriving at Old Trafford in 2015 and explore his link-up with Rashford in more detail.


MARTIAL HITS THE GROUND RUNNING

Martial came on as a late substitute against Liverpool last week and made his first start since August in the 1-0 Europa League win against Partizan, scoring the only goal of the game from the penalty spot to mark his return in style.

The France international retained his place in the line-up for the trip to Norwich three days later - the first time he had started alongside Rashford since the opening weeks of the campaign.

And the duo did not take long to show just how dangerous they can be when used in tandem high up the pitch, most notably in the build-up for Martial's 73rd-minute strike to put United 3-0 ahead.

Martial knocked the ball into the path of Rashford, who returned it with an impressive flicked pass for the 23-year-old to beat Tim Krul - who had earlier kept out penalties from both players - with a dinked finish.

It was Martial's 37th Premier League goal since arriving from Monaco in September 2015 - more than any other United player in that period, with Rashford next best on 32.

RASHFORD CAN PROFIT FROM MARTIAL RETURN

Speaking after that first away league win of the campaign at Norwich, Rashford admitted the Red Devils' attacking players need to step up and craft more opportunities for each other in front of goal.

Rashford has now created three chances for Martial in the top flight during the latter's limited time on the field this term, making it one of the most effective link-ups in the side.

In the prolonged absence of Martial, meanwhile, Rashford has had to rely on Paul Pogba (seven) and Daniel James (five) to create chances for him.

With the ex-Monaco ace now back to full fitness and hitting the ground running, it is little wonder why Solskjaer is excited to see how the partnership blossoms.


MARTIAL MATTERS TO UNITED

While Martial was recuperating from his latest injury lay-off, Rashford has been quietly going about his business.

The versatile attacker has been involved in the fifth most goals of any Premier League player in 2019-20, scoring five times and setting up three more.

That puts him level with Raheem Sterling (eight) and Mohamed Salah (eight), while only Kevin De Bruyne (11), Jamie Vardy (10), Sergio Aguero (10) and Tammy Abraham (nine) have been more heavily involved in front of goal.

And on the basis of the 90 minutes in East Anglia last weekend, Rashford's stats - both in terms of goals and assists - will surely only improve following the return of Martial alongside him.

Only a string of fine saves from Krul prevented United from running riot in that most recent league outing, with Rashford and Martial managing eight shots on target between them.

"It's like Teddy Sheringham and Solskjaer!" United's Norwegian boss joked after the match. With Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez no longer around, it is very much down to Martial and Rashford to bring the good times back to Old Trafford.

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.

Chelsea coach Frank Lampard believes Premier League referees must start utilising touchline monitors if they are to implement VAR correctly.

The use of VAR has come under increasing scrutiny as the season has progressed, with the latest round of Premier League fixtures throwing up more questions.

Everton's Michael Keane was on Saturday penalised for what appeared to be an accidental collision with Brighton and Hove Albion's Aaron Connolly, as the referee's initial decision not to award a spot-kick was overturned.

There were similar VAR interventions in Manchester United's 3-1 win over Norwich City and Arsenal's draw with Crystal Palace on Sunday.

On-field officials are said to have been instructed to use pitchside screens sparingly, which is a stance Lampard thinks must change.

"Yes, I think it is part of VAR. I assumed when it came into the Premier League that would be the case," he told a news conference ahead of Chelsea's EFL Cup clash with Manchester United.

"I think we are at the point now where from my point of view I think they have to. It is difficult. I am not one to bang the drum.

"It is not easy and even with VAR there is a human element involved because they are the ones that are checking it and it is slightly opinionated.

"I think at the weekend we saw it flip slightly from the other way from what it had been already with some decisions being changed. Hopefully we find the right middle ground as soon as possible.

"I think seeing the monitor on the side of the pitch is the way forward."

VAR also came into play in Chelsea's 4-2 thrashing of Burnley on Sunday, after Michael Oliver's decision to award Callum Hudson-Odoi a penalty was overturned and the winger was instead booked for simulation.

Burnley manager Sean Dyche was highly critical of Hudson-Odoi's actions, but Lampard insisted it was not the youngster's intention to cheat.

"I said nothing to him. I didn't feel the need to. I asked him on the day of the game, after my press conference about what happened," Lampard said.

"He said he had a touch. Clearly when you see it back from behind he gets a touch on his back. I know it is light. I am not saying it is a definite penalty, but it is not a dive.

"I am not sure if Sean had watched it back from all the angles ahead of when he spoke, but it wasn't a dive as such. If that becomes a dive, then you will start analysing every bit of contact."

Frank Lampard is pleased with Chelsea's progress since a heavy opening defeat to Manchester United as the two teams prepare to meet again on Wednesday.

Lampard's first competitive game in charge of Chelsea ended in a painful 4-0 loss at Old Trafford on the opening weekend of the Premier League season in August.

The Blues endured a slow start to the campaign but have since found their feet, winning their last seven matches in all competitions ahead of the EFL Cup clash with United at Stamford Bridge.

"It feels a million miles," Lampard said at Tuesday's news conference when reflecting on the last time the clubs faced each other.

"I'm not disregarding it - they hurt us four times in a game we played particularly well in.

"We're improving, that's the main thing. It's what we've been striving for and it's pleasing to see good signs.

"I try not to listen to too much talk about the future. If we do that there would be problems. It's nice we're working in a good direction."

Chelsea's current winning run started with a 7-1 thrashing of Grimsby Town in the last round and Lampard is aiming for EFL Cup silverware with his young group of players.

"We'll target all the trophies," he said. "We want to win every game but we're up against a top opponent tomorrow. Every game you have to give everything to try and win.

"A day at Wembley should never be taken likely. But not just for the young boys. We'll give it our all."

While Chelsea have improved following a sluggish opening to Lampard's reign, United have struggled for consistency and are seven points behind their next opponents in the Premier League.

Lampard will rotate his squad following the 4-2 win at Burnley last time out, though he confirmed N'Golo Kante and Antonio Rudiger remain absent for the midweek fixture.

"I don't want to talk about United too much, but since the first game our points total has been nice," he said. "It's not worth focusing on United other than to say they are full of top players. People shouldn't be too critical of other clubs.

"In terms of changes, I've got to be aware that we haven't changed that much. This game may see opportunities for players who haven't been getting minutes.

"I wanted to play every game as a player but on this side, you see things slightly differently. Demands on players are more. I won't take this game lightly even if I make changes.

"If players do step out of the line-up with a view to the coming weeks it's about the big picture. I understand how players are, but those who start will give everything and those who don't will support them hugely. 

"It helps they are playing well. That's the nice feeling around at the minute. They are playing and I have to take that into account about rest."

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."

Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has praised Frank Lampard ahead of Wednesday's EFL Cup last-16 tie for building an "exciting" squad at Chelsea.

Solskjaer and Lampard have placed their faith in youth during their first full campaigns at their respective clubs, fielding two of the youngest average line-ups in the Premier League.

Academy products Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount, Reece James, Fikayo Tomori, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Billy Gilmour have all been used by Chelsea, who have won seven matches on the spin in all competitions.

The Blues' form over the past month is a far cry from their inconsistent start to the campaign when winning only one of their opening five matches, including a heavy 4-0 loss at Old Trafford in their Premier League opener.

But ahead of United's trip to Stamford Bridge, Solskjaer admitted the scoreline in August's match flattered his side and is expecting a different type of contest in west London.

"Frank has done a good job. Their performance against us was good, the result was bad. We hold our hands up and say that the result was flattering," he told reporters.

"They pressed us but we scored two goals in a minute to decide the game. We didn't think we were four goals better. It is going to be an interesting game.

"They've got a very exciting team. Frank has players who have been on loan one or two seasons in the Championship. 

"The difference with my youngsters is they're stepping straight onto the scene. Axel [Tuanzebe] has been out on loan and is feeling the benefits. Chelsea are a mature young team."

Not helped by injuries to the likes of Paul Pogba, Anthony Martial and Luke Shaw, Solskjaer has turned to James Garner, Tahith Chong, Mason Greenwood and Brandon Williams this term.

And on the back of successive away wins over Partizan in the Europa League and Norwich City in the Premier League, the Norwegian lauded his youngsters for stepping up in his time of need.

"The characters will be revealed in tough times," he said. "I couldn't give them any more responsibility and I couldn't be happier with them. 

"We know it's been tough and we know we've asked a lot of them because of injuries to Paul, Luke, Anthony and the others. 

"For us the youngsters have stepped up in a difficult period and in the end they'll be stronger for it."

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.

Marcus Rashford thinks Manchester United's forwards need to be better at creating clear-cut chances despite an impressive win at Norwich City on Sunday.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side won an away Premier League game for the first time since February and scored more than once in a match for only the second time this season as they claimed a 3-1 victory at Carrow Road.

Scott McTominay fired in the opener - United's 2,000th goal of the Premier League era - after 21 minutes and Rashford, who had seen a penalty saved by Tim Krul, doubled the lead following a fine pass from Daniel James.

Krul also denied Anthony Martial from the spot just before half-time but the France international responded by finishing a good move involving Rashford to put the game beyond Norwich, who got a consolation goal through Onel Hernandez.

Rashford, who has reached 50 goals for United in all competitions, now wants to see the club's forwards creating more clear chances for one another.

"I think the one thing we can improve on is making more clear-cut opportunities for each other," he said to MUTV. "For me, that's the next step.

"We’re creating and making each other half-chances, but, as forwards, the easier the goals you can get, the better. We want to be able to just square it past the goalkeeper and tap it in.

"We've been working hard and I think, if we keep that up, it'll become easier for us."

Sunday saw another positive performance from James, who has been United's most consistent attacking player in his first season in the Premier League since a reported £15m move from Swansea City.

"He's had a brilliant impact - he's scored important goals and he's assisting as well," Rashford said.

"The main thing is that he's working hard for the team and the other stuff just comes with the game. He's the prime example of that. 

"We're all hungry to keep pushing, to keep scoring more goals and keep assisting each other. I think, if us three can keep doing that on a regular basis, then we'll definitely get some more points."

Rashford admitted it was "a nice feeling" to reach a half-century for United after scoring in back-to-back league games for the first time since January.

"I think this goal wasn't so bad," said the 21-year-old. "The keeper's not really rushing out at you so you can relax and pick your spot. 

"It's a brilliant ball from Dan, even to recognise the space and, when we play like that, it's devastating. Like I said, we can keep doing that and keep making chances for each other."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.