David de Gea is not a new problem for Manchester United. Of course, his backers – and that appears to include many people at the club – will always point to his shot-stopping ability, which has clearly been a strength over the course of his career in England.

We can't forget that legendary performance against Arsenal in a 3-1 away win for United in the 2017-18 season, when De Gea equalled a Premier League record by making 14 saves.

But if that kind of goalkeeper becomes less reliable at arguably the one thing they're good at, questions have to be asked. De Gea was, of course, culpable in United's 4-0 humiliation by Brentford on Saturday.

He let Josh Dasilva's tame long-range effort sneak into the bottom-right corner, and that opened the floodgates on what was one of United's worst days in Premier League history.

But that wasn't all. His needless pass to Christian Eriksen when the Dane was under pressure brought the second goal and further highlighted something De Gea's detractors have started to mention frequently in the past few years: he's not good enough with the ball to be relied upon in a team that wants to build from the back.

That's the style of play Erik ten Hag wants to impose, yet De Gea appears to be far from the ideal candidate. Granted, the need to make saves will always be important for a goalkeeper, and the Spaniard's record of 2.8 goals prevented last season was second only to Jose Sa (8.5) in the Premier League.

But goalkeepers have become more and more important in the implementation of possession-based football over the past decade, and the longer you have the ball, the fewer opportunities the opponent has to score – for example, the three teams with the greatest shares of possession last term also faced the fewest shots.

 

So, if De Gea – who last season only completed 69 per cent of his passes – is not suitable, which goalkeepers are? Stats Perform takes a look at the Opta data of the more realistic potential targets...

KEYLOR NAVAS

If United were able to sign Navas, there's lots to suggest it would be a very shrewd acquisition.

Although the Costa Rican is 35, stylistically the Paris Saint-Germain goalkeeper does appear to be a good fit for a team that wants to build from the back.

Over the past three seasons, Navas' 89.9 per cent pass completion rate last term is the highest by any goalkeeper (minimum 1,000 minutes played) in a single campaign across the top five leagues. He posted that figure as he and Gianluigi Donnarumma tussled for the starting role.

The season before he found a team-mate with 85.7 per cent of his passes, while in both campaigns he showed he was dependable when facing shots, recording 80.4 and 76.9 save percentages respectively – the former was the best such record of any keeper (min. 1,000 minutes played) over the past three campaigns.

When you consider PSG are seemingly willing to sell, with a move to Napoli apparently in the works, this could be a wonderful opportunity for United.

 

MARC-ANDRE TER STEGEN

This might seem a slightly unrealistic option initially, but Ter Stegen certainly shouldn't be seen as unattainable.

While Ter Stegen has rarely been suggested as a likely option for Barcelona to raise funds, he does still retain reasonable value and his sale would ease salary limit concerns – let's not forget, the Frenkie de Jong saga may be murky, but the Blaugrana need money.

As for his suitability to Ten Hag's brand of football, Ter Stegen's essentially been playing that way throughout his time at Barcelona. In each of the past three seasons, he has recorded a pass completion percentage of over 85 per cent – no other goalkeeper across the big five leagues can match that.

 

The concern, however, is his shot-stopping capabilities. In the three seasons mentioned he has, Opta data says, conceded more goals than the average goalkeeper would have expected to based on the quality of chances faced, and his save percentage figures for the three campaigns (68.8, 69 and 70.4) aren't much better than the average for the keepers in question (67.4 per cent).

WOJCIECH SZCZESNY

Poland international Szczesny may not be remembered especially fondly in the Premier League as he failed to live up to early promise at Arsenal.

But in Serie A he's carved out a fine career for himself. First, he kept Alisson out of the Roma team, and then he went on to become Juventus' chosen one to replace Gianluigi Buffon.

He isn't perfect, but again he is a goalkeeper with decent passing stats. His accuracy (79.4 per cent) last season was, admittedly, his worst record out of the past three campaigns, but in 2020-21 he was at 89.1.

 

Szczesny's save percentages over the period in question range from 68 to 74.4, which are reasonable without being spectacular, though he prevented 5.1 goals in 2019-20 and 2.3 last term. Both are fine records.

ILLAN MESLIER

Obviously, a goalkeeper's statistics are very often a reflection of the team they play in and the players around them. Just because a keeper has an excellent passing accuracy in one side doesn't mean they will in another, or vice versa.

Meslier is a keeper United are said to have been long-term admirers of, and in the data search that identified Navas, Szczesny and Ter Stegen as suitable, the Frenchman is one of precious few under the age of 23 who could fit the bill long term.

The 22-year-old hasn't played behind an especially effective defence since coming into the Premier League with Leeds United, but in the 2020-21 season he recorded a 72.6 save percentage and a reasonable passing accuracy of 77.1 per cent.

 

Granted, both were significantly poorer in 2021-22 and he endured a disappointing season individually – letting in 15.8 goals more than expected, the fifth-worst in Europe's top league – that will have raised some doubts, but he has shown potential in a Leeds team that is known for being chaotic.

He'd be a gamble, but at this point it could be argued United need as much change as possible.

Juventus playmaker Angel Di Maria faces at least 10 days out of action after suffering an adductor injury in the 3-0 victory over Sassuolo.

The Argentina international made his debut for the Serie A giants and opened the scoring before providing an assist for Dusan Vlahovic's second goal of the night – after the forward made it 2-0 from the penalty spot.

Concern for Di Maria arose in the second period, however, as the former Paris Saint-Germain man was forced off through injury.

Juventus have now announced Di Maria's situation will be reviewed in 10 days' time, meaning he must miss next Monday's clash against Sampdoria.

A club statement read: "Angel Di Maria underwent radiological examinations this morning ... which revealed a low-grade lesion of the adductor longus muscle of the left thigh. The extent of the injury will be re-evaluated in 10 days."

Juventus head coach Massimiliano Allegri stated after the final whistle that he was not worried about the potential setback for his recruit.

Allegri told DAZN: "Unfortunately, these things happen in football. He had this adductor issue a week ago too. Perhaps I should've taken him off when we were 3-0 up, but he was enjoying himself out there."

Alvaro Morata's agent has not ruled out a move for the in-form Atletico Madrid star but declared "at the moment I say that he stays".

The Spain international scored twice as Atleti started the LaLiga season with a 3-0 win at Getafe on the back of a hat-trick in a 4-0 friendly rout of his former club Juventus.

Morata has been linked with Manchester United and a return to Juve, where he was on loan for the past two campaigns.

The 29-year-old's representative, Juanma Lopez, says the ex-Real Madrid forward will remain with Diego Simeone's side as it stands, but suggested he could depart before the transfer window closes on September 1. 

He told Chiringuito: "At the moment I say that he stays at Atletico Madrid, we are in August. Will he stay? Yes, he has a contract with Atletico."

Simeone was unable to give any assurances over Morata's future following the victory over Getafe.

"I am not the owner of the club, I am the coach," the Atleti boss said. "He is doing very well, working in an extraordinary way, and we hope that Morata will continue with us.

"I think that all footballers have to have confidence to do important things. He came with humility, desire to work, without demanding anything, striving to get to this shape and that is what we want to see."

Manchester United have come in for huge criticism following their poor start to the season.

United have failed to land major off-season transfer targets and are eager to add reinforcements.

The start of Erik ten Hag's tenure as manager has been hugely disappointing, with back-to-back Premier League defeats.

 

TOP STORY – MAN UTD TURN TO VARDY TO SOLVE STRIKER ISSUES

Manchester United are considering a bid for Leicester City forward Jamie Vardy to solve their striker conundrum, claims The Athletic.

The Red Devils have endured a frustrating transfer window and have only netted once in their opening two league games.

Vardy is among a number of targets United are keen on, having also been linked with Barcelona's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, according to The Sun.

 

ROUND-UP

– TalkSPORT claims Manchester United are getting close to a €50million (£42m) deal for Atletico Madrid's Brazilian forward Matheus Cunha. The 23-year-old joined Atletico from Hertha Berlin last year on a five-year deal.

Chelsea are closing in on a deal for Inter's Cesare Casadei, according to Calciomercato. Inter have set their asking price at €15m (£12.5m) plus €5m in bonuses, which the Blues are edging closer to meet. The deal may aid Romelu Lukaku sealing a permanent switch to the Nerazzurri.

– Talks are ongoing between Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus on agreeing a move for Leandro Paredes, reports Fabrizio Romano. Personal terms have been agreed between the Argentinian and the Bianconeri on a long-term deal.

Wolves will sign Portuguese midfielder Matheus Nunes for a club-record fee of €45m (£38m) plus €5m in add-ons from Sporting CP, according to Record. Liverpool, West Ham and Manchester City had been tracking Nunes.

– Diario Sport claims Barcelona may be willing to let Samuel Umtiti exit as a free agent amid interest from various unnamed clubs. Umtiti, who is contracted at Camp Nou until 2026, has struggled with injuries during his time at the Blaugrana.

Juventus head coach Massimiliano Allegri has insisted he is "not worried" about Angel Di Maria after the Argentine limped off against Sassuolo.

Di Maria opened the scoring on his debut and provided an assist for Dusan Vlahovic in the 3-0 triumph, where the striker also won and converted a penalty.

After a slow start, it was largely plain sailing for Juventus after Di Maria's debut goal, but concern was raised after the former Paris Saint-Germain ace limped off in the second half with a suspected adductor injury.

Juventus also saw Denis Zakaria pick up an injury during the match, but Allegri insisted that he was not concerned about the prospective setbacks.

"I am not worried. We'll see what the tests say tomorrow," he told DAZN.

"Unfortunately, these things happen in football. He had this adductor issue a week ago too, perhaps I should've taken him off when we were 3-0 up, but he was enjoying himself out there. 

"Zakaria just had a cramp, nothing more. The important thing is that we won a game that we really wanted to win, which was by no means simple."

Juventus' may make further additions before the close of the transfer window on September 1, with Di Maria's compatriot and former PSG teammate Leandro Paredes heavily touted to make a move to Turin.

The midfielder was shown on social media to be following the game but Allegri played down the significance.

"They are friends, both from Argentina, so that's natural. I don't know if they can play together, I have to work with the players at my disposal," he added.

"The club has done well, we lost important players and brought in good replacements."

Dusan Vlahovic expressed his delight at the opportunity to play with Angel Di Maria, as the two combined to inspire Juventus to a 3-0 win against Sassuolo.

The former Paris Saint-Germain star opened the deadlock with a bouncing volley and teed up Vlahovic in the second half, which came either side of the Serbian winning and converting a penalty.

Sterner tests will await for Juventus this season, particularly when their Champions League campaign begins next month, but the performance from the two attackers will provide encouragement after last season's frustrations.

Di Maria's creativity is likely to add further opportunities for Vlahovic to extend his excellent record for Juventus, and he took the opportunity after the win to praise his new teammate.

"It's an incredible sensation to play with Di Maria, it's so pleasing to work with such champions and I thank him for the assist. He had an extraordinary game," he told DAZN.

Di Maria was not the only debutant to feature, with Bremer also starting and Filip Kostic introduced off the bench in the second half, with Vlahovic clear there is more to come from the side.

Dusan Vlahovic struck a brace to help Juventus to a comfortable 3-0 victory over Sassuolo in the opening match of their Serie A campaign on Monday.

The Serbian forward struck five minutes either side of the interval to put the Bianconeri in control after Angel Di Maria marked his Juve debut with a maiden goal at the Allianz Stadium.

Massimiliano Allegri's side were not at their best in possession but made their chances count, with their attacking contingent laying down a marker to their rivals.

A shaky start from the hosts provided Sassuolo with encouragement and called Mattia Perin, in for the injured Wojciech Szczesny, into action to deny Gregoire Defrel on two occasions.

Juventus soon found some rhythm and made the breakthrough when Di Maria met Alex Sandro's cross by bouncing a volleyed effort over the head of Andrea Consigli.

Five minutes before the break, Vlahovic bullied Gian Marco Ferrari to win the hosts a penalty and stepped-up to confidently smash home from the spot to open his account for the season.

Sassuolo were the architects of their own downfall following the restart, Kaan Ayhan giving the ball away to Di Maria who fed in Vlahovic to double his tally and continue in the vein that saw him star last term.

Juventus took their foot off the gas in the remainder of the half to ease out a win, with Filip Kostic introduced for the final half hour in a comfortable debut environment.

Massimiliano Allegri says it is "useless" to discuss the transfer market as Juventus prepare to start the Serie A season against Sassuolo on Monday.

Paul Pogba, Angel Di Maria, Gleison Bremer and Filip Kostic have arrived at Juve during the transfer window, while Leandro Paredes and Memphis Depay have also been linked with moves to Turin.

Juve midfielder Adrien Rabiot is reportedly a target for Manchester United and on Sunday, Allegri suggested Arthur – who is sidelined with an ankle injury – could also move on.

But the Bianconeri coach is determined to avoid being distracted by transfer talk ahead of the clash with Sassuolo at the Allianz Stadium.

He said: "It is useless to talk about the transfer market, the club thinks about it. Players who left have been replaced, we must think about tomorrow's match.

"Sassuolo are coming from a bad defeat in the Coppa Italia [3-2 against Modena], but they have taken on important players like [Andrea] Pinamonti."

Meanwhile, Allegri believes suffering a 4-0 friendly thrashing against Atletico Madrid could be a blessing in disguise for Juve as they attempt to mount a title challenge.

He said: "We had three important friendlies, the last one ended badly and we had worked a lot during the week. The defeat did us good to make us raise our antennas, I have heard too many triumphalisms around.

"Juventus has the duty to try to win, the competitors have strengthened. There are four or five suitors [for the Scudetto] and we are among them. We have to work in silence, improve the team from all points of view.

"I think it is a job that we are doing every day, the club has been very good at replacing those who left. Let's think about the championship before the market closes, three at home and one away.

"We will have to suffer, like in all games. It has always been the strength of winning teams, respect the opponent. We need to do well when we have the ball and improve without the ball."

Allegri added he is yet to decide whether new winger Kostic will start on Monday following his move from Eintracht Frankfurt.

"Kostic is a player who crosses very well, he has arrived for two days and among other things he has been back and forth," Allegri said. "I still have to decide between him, [Weston] McKennie and [Juan] Cuadrado."

Rabiot and striker Moise Kean are not available for Juve's season-opener due to suspension, as the Bianconeri bid to improve on successive fourth-placed Serie A finishes.

Christophe Galtier revealed Leandro Paredes is in demand and gave a strong indication he could leave Paris Saint-Germain before the transfer window closes.

Paredes is reported to have agreed terms with Juventus and a move is expected to go through if Adrien Rabiot joins Manchester United.

The Argentina midfielder has been frustrated by a lack of playing time at PSG, who he joined from Zenit in 2019.

Paredes replaced Vitinha for the final 20 minutes of the champions' 5-2 Ligue 1 thrashing of Montpellier on Saturday, but Galtier is unsure whether he will still be at the club when the transfer window closes on September 1.

The PSG head coach said in a press conference: "The situation Paredes is very different from Mauro Icardi's.

"Leandro has many requests and I don't know what will happen between now and the end of the transfer market. I know he wants to play, but he has a calm mood."

Galtier has strengthened his midfield with the signings of Vitinha and Renato Sanches, keeping Paredes down the pecking order.

The 28-year-old only started 15 games for PSG last season.

Matthijs de Ligt insists he did not "attack" Juventus when pointing out the club had underperformed, although he feels he will be better suited to playing for Bayern Munich.

De Ligt left Juve for Bayern ahead of the 2022-23 season, having widely been seen as failing to fulfil his potential in three years in Turin.

The Netherlands centre-back was outstanding in Ajax's run to the 2018-19 Champions League semi-finals, earning a move to Juve, where he faced a battle for his place.

De Ligt started fewer than 30 Serie A matches in each of his three seasons with the Bianconeri.

There was some backlash then when De Ligt, discussing the possibility of a transfer in June, criticised Juve's back-to-back fourth-placed finishes.

Speaking to De Telegraaf on Saturday, De Ligt explained: "In an interview with NOS in June, I said that – as the club itself thinks – to be fourth tw‪ice in a row with Juventus is not good enough.

"That was not an attack on Juventus. Not at all, because I will always have the utmost respect for this club.

"For me, it was just a fact that no one could be satisfied, that the bar had to be raised, including for me. Maybe it came across incorrectly."

De Ligt added he would "never forget" the help he received from his Juve team-mates in his "development as a footballer and as a person".

However, he likened the style of play in Serie A to chess, saying it is "much more tactical".

Now, De Ligt believes both he and Louis van Gaal's Netherlands team can benefit from his move to Bayern, where the approach is more in line with that he learned at Ajax.

"I am very happy that I was able to experience that [at Juve], that I was able to play that way, because I have learned a lot," he said.

"The reason for going to Juventus was also to become a better defender, even though there were differences with the Dutch national team.

"At Juventus, I often had to stay in the position, while at certain times I was required to go [forward] with the Oranje.

"At Bayern, I want to get my Ajax game back again.

"[Bayern coach Julian] Nagelsmann's playing style is much closer to what Louis van Gaal asks of his defenders: defending high, putting high pressure, connecting well and playing forward a lot.

"I think it's a move that can be good for the Dutch national team and my chances, but I did discuss the transfer with [Van Gaal]. He said he had a great time here."

Manchester United's transfer market activity appears to be getting increasingly desperate.

The English giants have added only Tyrell Malacia, Christian Eriksen and Lisandro Martinez to their first team in this window.

United have been linked with a host of other players but missed out, including Benjamin Sesko, while no deal has transpired despite their attempts to sign Frenkie de Jong.

TOP STORY – MAN UTD BOSS TEN HAG KEEN ON ZIYECH

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag has identified Chelsea winger Hakim Ziyech as a target, according to the Manchester Evening News.

However, United's hierarchy are not convinced and have offered resistance to the Dutchman's plans to sign the Moroccan, whom he worked with previously at Ajax.

United have been priced out of their move for Ajax's Antony, and Ten Hag views Ziyech as a good alternative.

ROUND-UP

– SPORT1 claims Bayern Munich will attempt to bring Kai Havertz to the club from Chelsea. The Germany international, who moved to Chelsea from Bayer Leverkusen two years ago, is seen as someone who can offset Robert Lewandowski's departure.

– Juventus are still keen on Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Leandro Paredes, according to Fabrizio Romano. The Bianconeri are ready to swoop once Adrien Rabiot's move to Manchester United is sealed.

– The Athletic reports Newcastle United may target Chelsea's United States international Christian Pulisic.

– West Ham have entered the race for Barcelona's Memphis Depay, submitting a "big-money" offer to the Blaugrana, according to Football Insider.

Eintracht Frankfurt have signed Italy international left-back Luca Pellegrini from Juventus on a season-long loan.

The Rome-born 23-year-old, who has one Italy cap from 2020, debuted for Juventus last season, going on to make 21 appearances in all competitions.

Pellegrini's move coincides with left wing-back Filip Kostic's arrival at the Bianconeri from Eintracht this week.

The former Italy youth international, who was loaned out to Cagliari and Genoa in 2019 and 2020 respectively, would also have faced competition for the left-back role with Alex Sandro.

Europa League winners Eintracht have made a raft of personnel changes this off-season in preparation for their participation in the Champions League.

Jens Petter Hauge, Lucas Alario, Hrvoje Smolcic, Kristijan Jakic and Mario Gotze are among their new signings.

Filip Kostic has expressed his excitement at the prospect of linking up with fellow Serbia international Dusan Vlahovic after joining the striker at Juventus.

Having played a key role in Eintracht Frankfurt's Europa League triumph last season, Kostic finalised a €16million move to the Bianconeri on Friday, ending a four-year spell with the Bundesliga outfit.

Kostic is already familiar with Vlahovic, having teamed up with him on a regular basis on the international stage, and the 29-year-old's creative abilities will likely be received well by the Juve striker. 

Vlahovic scored 29 goals in all competitions last season – including nine for Juve following his January transfer from rivals Fiorentina. He averaged a strike every 182 minutes after joining the Turin giants, converting 58.33 per cent of his big chances.

And those numbers will likely improve with Kostic providing service from the left, after he created 112 chances for Eintracht last campaign – almost double the highest tally managed by any of his team-mates.

 

Speaking to Juve's media channels after completing his transfer, Kostic revealed he had already been in touch with his compatriot, explaining: "I've already talked to Dusan, I'm happy that he's part of the team. 

"He's one of the best strikers, it's nice to play with him."

As well as scoring seven goals for Eintracht last term, Kostic teed up 13 for team-mates, and represents an exciting signing for a side that struggled for attacking inspiration under Massimiliano Allegri throughout 2021-22.

Asked whether the Bianconeri's supporters could expect the assists to continue to flow, the dynamic wing-back said: "I like to play like that, then it depends on what the manager wants and what is best for the team. If it's good for the team, I'll do it best.

"It's a special day for me. I am very happy, it is not very difficult to say 'yes' to Juventus.

"I gave everything and I worked hard for it. I think I deserve Juventus. When a club like this arrives, it's always the right time."

Juventus have announced the arrival of wing-back Filip Kostic from Eintracht Frankfurt on a four-year deal, with the 29-year-old reportedly commanding a fee of €16million including add-ons.

Kostic, a key player in Eintracht's Europa League triumph last season, was absent from Oliver Glasner's squad as they lost 2-0 to Real Madrid in the Super Cup on Wednesday.

Glasner declared the Serbia international would leave the Bundesliga club "as a hero" ahead of that match, before Kostic posted a heartfelt message to Eintracht's fans on Instagram.

After Kostic underwent a medical with Juventus on Thursday, he has been revealed as their latest addition of a busy transfer window, following the acquisitions of Paul Pogba, Angel Di Maria and Gleison Bremer.

A statement on Juventus' website read: "A player possessed of talent, strength and speed, able to cover the entire flank. The naturally left-footed wide player has shown over the years that he can play in every area of the pitch, but prefers to throw himself in attack, dishing [out] assists when required.

"The above presentation is basically the football identity card of Filip Kostic, the 29-year-old Serb who is now a Juventus player, having signed a contract that ties him to the club until June 2026."

Kostic, who joined Eintracht in 2018, scored seven goals and added 13 assists from his role as a flying left wing-back last season (in all competitions), also creating 112 chances for the side – almost double the highest tally managed by any of his team-mates (Jesper Lindstom created 57).

The 29-year-old will hope to be involved when Juventus host Sassuolo in their opening match of the new Serie A campaign on Monday.

The European domestic season is now back up and running, meaning we are officially into a World Cup campaign.

For some players, the main focus over the next few months will be remaining fit with the hope of entering Qatar 2022 in peak condition for their respective nations.

For others, the first part of the 2022-23 season will provide an opportunity to play themselves into contention for a squad place ahead of the biggest tournament of them all.

That includes an array of talented stars who have yet to represent their countries at senior level, but who could be given the chance to showcase their talent on the global stage.

With the big kick-off now just 100 days away, Stats Perform has identified five uncapped players who still have an outside shot of glory in Qatar.


Gleison Bremer (Brazil) – 25, centre-back, Juventus

If Bremer was not on the radar of Brazil head coach Tite ahead of the 2021-22 season, the 25-year-old certainly will be now. He ranked first among Serie A defenders last term for duels contested (451) and also led the way for headed clearances (75), showing that he can be relied upon at the back.

Indeed, Bremer's form last time out led to Juventus splashing out a reported €50million to sign him from Torino during the close season. Brazil must be quick, though, as the Italian top-flight's best defender last season is also eligible to represent the Azzurri.

 

Luis Maximiano (Portugal) – 23, goalkeeper, Lazio

Goalkeeper Maximiano is another who moved to a club of bigger stature just a few months out from the World Cup beginning after swapping relegated Granada, where he impressed in his only campaign, for Serie A side Lazio. The 23-year-old certainly had a chance to showcase his shot-stopping abilities last season, with his 127 saves the most of any keeper in LaLiga, and the fifth-most of anyone in Europe's top five leagues.

Following the departure of long-serving Thomas Strakosha, Maximiano will be installed as first choice at Stadio Olimpico, where Portugal boss Fernando Santos may make a visit or two in the coming months.



Sven Botman (Netherlands) – 22, centre-back, Newcastle United

Despite catching the eye in Ligue 1 with Lille, particularly in 2020-21 when starting 37 of the 38 matches played in their stunning title-winning campaign, Botman has remained on the periphery of the Netherlands squad. He has been a regular for the Oranje at Under-21 level, but after joining Newcastle in a £31.8m (€37m) transfer last month, he is surely now in serious consideration for a place in the senior squad.

Having led the way among Lille players last time out per 90 minutes for successful passes (53.4), blocks (0.84) and headed clearances (2.2), the Dutchman will hope to hit the ground running in another new league.

 

Benjamin Bourigeaud (France) – 28, attacking midfielder, Rennes

Reigning world champions France are blessed with world-class talent right across the pitch, but could there be room for a wild card in the form of Bourigeaud? The versatile attacking midfielder can play in a number of positions, though was predominantly used out on the right in what was a career-best season last time out in Ligue 1.

While France are hardly crying out for another player to slot into the final third, Bourigeaud's 23 direct goal involvements for Rennes last season is a tally bettered by only four others, while his David Beckham-esque deliveries from wide can provide something a little different for Didier Deschamps' men.

 

Inaki Williams (Ghana) – 28, forward, Athletic Bilbao

Ghana's squad has been completely transformed since booking their place in Qatar, having persuaded six players to switch allegiance and represent them at the World Cup. Patric Pfeiffer, Stephen Ambrosius and Ransford-Yeboah Konigsdorffer are all available for selection, as are Inaki Williams, Tariq Lamptey and Mohammed Salisu.

Each of those players will enhance Otto Addo's squad, with Williams – capped once by Spain in a friendly – possibly a game-changing option in attack. He is someone who can be replied upon, too, having appeared in each of Athletic's past 233 LaLiga matches, a run spanning back to April 2016. 

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