Brazil preserved their perfect record in CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying after Richarlison and Neymar's second-half strikes broke Ecuador's stubborn resistance in a 2-0 victory.

Richarlison and Neymar combined for the decisive 65th-minute goal as Brazil made it five wins from five matches on the road to Qatar 2022 in Porto Alegre on Friday.

With all eyes on the upcoming Copa America, due to start in Brazil on June 13 amid reports some of the Selecao players do not want to compete, Richarlison broke the deadlock with a powerful strike behind closed doors.

Neymar sealed the win with a re-taken penalty in the 94th minute to send Tite's men four points clear atop the qualifying standings.

It was a clash between the two top-scoring teams in World Cup qualifying, Ecuador having scored 13 goals through four rounds, while Brazil had found the back of the net on 12 occasions.

But chances were few and far between, especially in the first half, with Ecuador looking comfortable away from home amid Brazil's subdued play.

Gabriel 'Gabigol' Barbosa – who had forced goalkeeper Alexander Dominguez into a routine save earlier in the half – did put the ball in the back of the net for Brazil three minutes before half-time but it was ruled out for offside.

While Brazil – playing for the first time since November's 2-0 win in Uruguay – were largely toothless in the opening 45 minutes, they did not face a shot on target for the third occasion in their five qualifying games.

Neymar, the subject of a scary incident prior to kick-off as two overexcited fans charged at the Paris Saint-Germain star and attempted to steal his shoes, continued to be in the thick of the action with a couple of strikes.

He was the architect for the opening goal just past the hour mark, playing in Richarlison, whose shot proved too hot to handle for Dominguez at the front post.

That goal brought Brazil to life as Gabigol had two good chances to double the lead for the Selecao.

With 18 minutes remaining, Gabigol got on the end of Gabriel Jesus' reverse pass but Dominguez was quick off his line to thwart the Flamengo star.

Gabigol was unable to divert his header on target three minutes later after Richarlison did superbly well to keep the ball in play.

Brazil were awarded a penalty following a VAR review at the death and while Neymar's initial penalty was saved by Dominguez in the first minute of stoppage time, an encroachment spared the star's blushes as he made no mistake a second time around.

Brazil head coach Tite cannot guarantee the participation of the Copa America champions this month as some players oppose the showpiece tournament on home soil.

The 2021 Copa America is scheduled to take place in Brazil, starting June 13, following CONMEBOL's decision to relocate the event.

Postponed from 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Copa America had been due to be shared between Colombia and Argentina, though both countries were removed as co-hosts following respective political and COVID-19 issues.

Brazil have been awarded hosting rights in pursuit of back-to-back titles, despite being one of the country's worst hit by the COVID-19 health crisis.

However, it remains to be seen whether Tite's Brazil will compete due to their displeasure over the relocation of the Copa America.

Amid ongoing talks as Brazil prepare for Friday's World Cup qualifier against Ecuador, Tite told reporters: "We have a very clear opinion [about the Copa America], after seeing the entire chronological sequence of events, Juninho and I spoke with the president and told him our opinion.

"We asked the players to work focused solely on preparing for the game against Ecuador, they accepted this request and asked us for a conversation with the president to tell him what their opinion is, because all the players are very clear about what they want.

"They spoke directly with the president and the coaching staff, from there their position is very clear. We want to tell the fans what they think, but not now so that we can prioritize playing well and winning the game against Ecuador.

"This is our goal and at the end of these FIFA matches, we will tell everyone to clarify our thoughts. You have my commitment that at the end of these games we will tell publicly what the position is."

Brazil are in Group B for the Copa America, alongside Colombia, Peru, Ecuador and Venezuela.

The Selecao are due to open their campaign against Venezuela on June 13.

Tite, whose Brazil are unbeaten and atop the World Cup qualifying standinds, added: "All this has a negative effect in the face of the game with Ecuador, but we have to have the greatness to overcome this moment and be able to play well and win the game.

"Adversities happen and this hurt us, but it is up to all of us as a team to be able to filter all that and play a great game and achieve the result that people deserve."

Argentina head coach Lionel Scaloni disapproved of CONMEBOL's decision to move the Copa America to Brazil, describing the situation as "alarming" amid the coronavirus pandemic.

This year's Copa America – postponed from 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic – had been due to be shared between Colombia and Argentina, though both countries were removed as co-hosts following respective political and coronavirus issues.

CONMEBOL confirmed the 2021 tournament will go ahead as planned, with Brazil taking over hosting duties in pursuit of back-to-back titles, despite being one of the country's worst hit by the COVID-19 health crisis.

As Argentina prepare to open the showpiece event in the scheduled curtain-raiser against Chile on June 13, Scaloni questioned the governing body's decision to strip Argentina of hosting rights.

"Some time ago people had been talking about the problems we have as a country to host the Copa America and the effort that the Government and the AFA were making to try to play it in Argentina," Scaloni told reporters ahead of Thursday's World Cup qualifier against Chile.

"Colombia had already gone down and in the end it was decided that it should not be done here for a health issue, but now it turns out that we will have to travel to Brazil and with that everything is said.

"Surely Brazil is the same or worse than us and from that place it was a difficult decision to assimilate, but this does not mean that we will have to go play and try to do our best.

"There are still many unknowns, accommodation, where we will train, our perspective changed a lot because before we were going to be on our camp, with all precautions, and now we are faced with this situation that is still alarming and worrying because it is not the ideal place."

Scaloni – who announced his starting XI for the qualifier against Chile, which is headlined by superstar captain Lionel Messi, Lautaro Martinez and Angel Di Maria – added: "The issue of the virus and the pandemic is not something new, we are already immersed in this and it really is very difficult to carry it forward with training and day to day, but all the national teams are in the same conditions.

"You have to live with this in the most responsible way. It has never happened that two qualifying games are played and then the Copa America, before we had preparation games, but now it is all atypical and we have to face it in the best way and in due time."

Barcelona have exercised their option to bring Emerson back to the club following two seasons at Real Betis.

Emerson was party to a three-way deal in January 2019, which saw Betis and Barca each pay half of the €12million fee that was sent to Brazilian club Atletico Mineiro.

At the time it was reported that right-back Emerson would stay with Betis for two-and-a-half years with the view to aiding his adaptation to Spanish football.

It was also claimed upon the completion of the complicated deal that Barca would have to reimburse Betis their initial outlay of €6m plus an additional amount in relation to his value at the time, while the Verdiblancos will be owed a percentage of any future sale.

Barca are said to be paying Betis €9m for the right to finally bring Emerson to Camp Nou, though the deal seemingly represents something of a coup given his performances in LaLiga.

Emerson – who is in the Brazil squad for this month's World Cup qualifiers ahead of the Copa America – has proved to be both a dependable defender and a capable attacking outlet.

His 10 assists over the past two seasons is bettered by only one LaLiga defender (Jesus Navas, 13), while his 62 key passes is the fifth-highest among full-backs.

He has played 170 open-play crosses in that time, a haul bettered by only 10 other right-backs and left-backs, highlighting how he can be expected to offer significant support in attack on the flank.

His forward-thinking nature has not impacted negatively only his defensive output.

Emerson's 853 duels over the past two years is nearly 200 more than any other defender, while his 492 duel wins is also a LaLiga high for players in the backline.

It is a similar story for tackle attempts (165) and tackles won (98), while he also has an impressive tally of 92 interceptions.

This paints a picture of an all-action defender who will work tirelessly up and down the right flank, potentially making him effective competition for Sergino Dest.

Emerson is Barca's third new signing following the acquisitions of Sergio Aguero and Eric Garcia from Manchester City.

Georginio Wijnaldum is expected to join the influx, with his Liverpool contract set to expire.

CONMEBOL has confirmed the 2021 Copa America will go ahead as planned, with Brazil taking over hosting duties.

This year's edition of the tournament – postponed from 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic – had been due to be shared between Colombia and Argentina.

However, Colombia lost co-hosting status amid mounting political unrest in the country, while the event then needed to find a new location after a surge in coronavirus cases ruled out playing games in Argentina.

CONMEBOL met on Monday to determine the future of the competition, electing to move the tournament to Brazil, who were crowned champions on home soil in 2019.

A post from the governing body's official Twitter account read: "The CONMEBOL Copa America 2021 will be played in Brazil!

"Tournament start and end dates are confirmed. The venues and the fixture will be informed by CONMEBOL in the next few hours. The oldest national team tournament in the world will make the whole continent vibrate!"

The tournament will run from June 13 to July 10, though further details over locations and the exact schedule are to be released in the near future.

However, the decision to move the Copa to Brazil does not come without controversy.

The nation has been one of the worst hit by the COVID-19 health crisis with nearly 460,000 deaths, according to figures from the World Health Organisation.

CONMEBOL's decision also comes in the aftermath of protesters in cities across the country calling for Jair Bolsonaro's impeachment, with Brazil's president having previously played down the severity of the virus and also questioned the importance of vaccinations.

"The best soccer in the world will bring joy and passion to millions of South Americans," CONMEBOL added in a further tweet.

"CONMEBOL thanks the president Jair Bolsonaro and his team, as well as the Brazilian Football Confederation for opening the doors of that country to what is today the safest sporting event in the world.

"South America will shine in Brazil with all its stars!"

CONMEBOL has confirmed the 2021 Copa America will go ahead as planned, with Brazil taking over hosting duties.

This year's edition of the tournament – postponed from 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic – had been due to be shared between Colombia and Argentina.

However, Colombia lost co-hosting status amid mounting political unrest in the country, while the event then needed to find a new location after a surge in coronavirus cases ruled out playing games in Argentina.

CONMEBOL met on Monday to determine the future of the competition, electing to move the tournament to Brazil, who were crowned champions on home soil in 2019.

A post from the governing body's official Twitter account read: "The CONMEBOL Copa America 2021 will be played in Brazil!

"Tournament start and end dates are confirmed. The venues and the fixture will be informed by CONMEBOL in the next few hours. The oldest national team tournament in the world will make the whole continent vibrate!"

The tournament will run from June 13 to July 10, though further details over locations and the exact schedule are to be released in the near future.

However, the decision to move the Copa to Brazil does not come without controversy.

The nation has been one of the worst hit by the COVID-19 health crisis with nearly 460,000 deaths, according to figures from the World Health Organisation.

CONMEBOL's decision also comes in the aftermath of protesters in cities across the country calling for Jair Bolsonaro's impeachment, with Brazil's president having previously played down the severity of the virus and also questioned the importance of vaccinations.

"The best soccer in the world will bring joy and passion to millions of South Americans," CONMEBOL added in a further tweet.

"CONMEBOL thanks the president Jair Bolsonaro and his team, as well as the Brazilian Football Confederation for opening the doors of that country to what is today the safest sporting event in the world.

"South America will shine in Brazil with all its stars!"

CONMEBOL has confirmed the 2021 Copa America will go ahead as planned, with Brazil taking over hosting duties.

This year's edition of the tournament – postponed from 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic – had been due to be shared between Colombia and Argentina.

However, Colombia lost co-hosting status amid mounting political unrest in the country, while the event then needed to find a new location after a surge in coronavirus cases ruled out playing games in Argentina.

CONMEBOL met on Monday to determine the future of the competition, electing to move the tournament to Brazil, who were crowned champions on home soil in 2019.

A post from the governing body's official Twitter account read: "The CONMEBOL Copa America 2021 will be played in Brazil!

"Tournament start and end dates are confirmed. The venues and the fixture will be informed by CONMEBOL in the next few hours. The oldest national team tournament in the world will make the whole continent vibrate!"

The tournament will run from June 13 to July 10.

Manchester United midfielder Fred has been called up to the Brazil squad for the first time since 2018 for their upcoming World Cup qualifiers with Ecuador and Paraguay.

The most recent of Fred's 11 senior international caps came in a 2-0 friendly win over Saudi Arabia two and a half years ago.

He has featured regularly for club side United once again this season, however, and has been included in Brazil's 24-man squad for their next set of Qatar 2022 qualifying fixtures.

Fred wrote on Twitter: "A great joy to represent my country again. Always proud to be called up. Let's go again!"

The 28-year-old was criticised by a number of pundits for his performance in Thursday's 4-2 Premier League defeat to Liverpool, but United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has regularly stood by the midfielder.

Fred has attempted 3.08 tackles per 90 minutes in the Premier League this term, the sixth highest average among all players to have played at least 20 times.

His 59.04 successful passes per 90 minutes, meanwhile, is behind only Nemanja Matic (76.56) in terms of United players to have played eight or more league games in 2020-21.

The ex-Shakhtar Donetsk player's passing has also improved during his time at Old Trafford, with Paul Pogba (9.47) the only United regular averaging more passes into the final third than Fred's 9.41 per game.

Asked at a news conference on Friday about his decision to recall Fred, Brazil head coach Tite said: "He has been included because of his high-level performances at United, the team that is second in the Premier League."

Fred is joined in the squad by veteran full-back Dani Alves, who last featured for Brazil in October 2019, while Lucas Paqueta, Gabriel Barbosa and Everton Ribeiro are also included.

The Selecao were last in action six months ago when seeing off Uruguay 2-0 to make it four wins from four in their CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying group.

The fifth and sixth rounds of fixtures were scheduled to take place in March, but all the games were called off due to coronavirus travel restrictions.

Brazil are gearing up for a busy period as the Copa America - originally due to be held last year - takes place between June 13 and July 10.

Tite will name his squad for the tournament on June 9 and is hoping to continue building momentum over the next couple of games.

"We have a very high expectation," Tite said. "It is a difficult moment for everyone. These games give us a chance to be in contact with the players.

"We will look at continuing with our performances and results. Right now it is only possible to think about these two games and nothing else."


Brazil squad: Alisson (Liverpool), Ederson (Manchester City), Weverton (Palmeiras); Alex Sandro (Juventus), Dani Alves (Sao Paulo), Danilo (Juventus), Eder Militao (Real Madrid), Renan Lodi (Atletico Madrid), Lucas Verissimo (Benfica), Marquinhos (Paris Saint-Germain), Thiago Silva (Chelsea); Casemiro (Real Madrid), Douglas Luiz (Aston Villa), Everton Ribeiro (Flamengo), Fabinho (Liverpool), Fred (Manchester United), Lucas Paqueta (Lyon); Everton (Benfica), Roberto Firmino (Liverpool), Gabriel Barbosa (Flamengo), Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City), Neymar (Paris Saint-Germain), Richarlison (Everton), Vinicius Junior (Real Madrid).

Reigning champions Brazil and 2016 finalists Germany have been drawn together in the group stages for the men's football tournament at the Tokyo Olympic Games.

Brazil secured the gold medal on home soil in Rio five years ago when defeating Germany via a penalty shoot-out, Neymar with the clinching spot-kick for following a 1-1 draw after extra time.

The two nations are together again in Group D, along with Ivory Coast and Saudi Arabia, and are in the same half of the draw as Argentina and Spain, who are both in Group C.

Hosts Japan are joined in Group A by France, Mexico – who claimed the gold medal at the 2012 Olympic Games in London – and South Africa.

Les Bleus will be involved in the opening match when they take on Mexico on July 22 at Tokyo Stadium, followed by Japan taking on South Africa at the same venue later that day.

In the women's event, the United States – winners of the 2019 World Cup - are paired with Sweden, who lost the 2016 final to Germany. Trans-Tasman rivals Australia and New Zealand complete the line-up for Group G.

Japan will take on Canada, Great Britain and Chile in Group E, while the other pool contains China, Brazil, the Netherlands and Zambia.


Men's draw in full:

Group A: Japan, South Africa, Mexico, France.

Group B: New Zealand, South Korea, Honduras, Romania.

Group C: Egypt, Spain, Argentina, Australia.

Group D: Brazil, Germany, Ivory Coast, Saudi Arabia

Women's draw in full:

Group E: Japan, Canada, Great Britain, Chile.

Group F: China, Brazil, Zambia, the Netherlands.

Group G: Sweden, United States, Australia, New Zealand.

Paris Saint-Germain and Brazil forward Neymar has denied he is planning to throw a party to celebrate his birthday next month.

Brazilian newspaper Extra claimed Neymar is preparing to host an event in Paris for his 29th birthday on February 5 with guests flying in from Brazil.

Mass gatherings are banned in France under coronavirus restrictions and any such party would likely be in breach of them.

Neymar described the story as "wrong gossip" in a message posted on Twitter on Saturday and added: "There will be no party!"

It is not the first time Neymar's famed party reputation has come under scrutiny during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The former Barcelona man denied he was hosting a New Year's Eve bash for 150 guests at his private condominium in Mangaratiba, down the coast from Rio de Janeiro.

Pele has denied changing his Instagram bio after Cristiano Ronaldo overtook his haul of 757 goals in official competitions.

Five-time Ballon d'Or winner Ronaldo moved on to 758 career goals with a double in Juventus' 4-1 victory over Udinese on Saturday.

It came just two weeks after Brazil great Pele, a three-time World Cup winner, saw his record for the most goals with a single club - 643 at Santos - surpassed by Barcelona captain Lionel Messi.

Following Ronaldo's goals against Udinese, Pele was accused of updating his Instagram bio to include "Leading Goal Scorer of All Time (1,283)", a total that remains the subject of much debate.

However, the 80-year-old has refuted the allegation, insisting he is not trying to detract from the achievements of Ronaldo and Messi.

"I was accused by the press of having changed my Instagram bio to overshadow these big stars that are breaking my records," Pele posted on Twitter.

"The bio text has always been the same since I joined the platform. None of this should distract us from their incredible achievements."

Only Czech striker Josef Bican, who is credited with scoring 805 goals, lies ahead of Ronaldo in the all-time goalscoring list.

After Messi scored his 644th goal for Barcelona, Santos published an article on their official website – attributed to club historian Fernando Ribeiro – with the headline, 'King Pele – 1,091 goals for Santos FC'.

Ribeiro claimed that Pele's official haul for Santos was 1,091 when friendlies against some of the world's best teams, including Barca and Inter, were included.

Finally, 2020 is history - there won't be many people who aren't happy to see the back of a difficult year.

While the coronavirus pandemic shows no sign of making a swift exit, the turn of the year at least gives us the chance to look forward, and the same is true in the world of sport.

2020 saw many promising young players make the step up, some undoubtedly down to the absences caused by coronavirus or the packed schedule that the pandemic has led to.

We've picked out 21 under-21 players to keep an eye on in 2021 - and while you may already be familiar with some of them, there's good reason to give them your attention this year...

 

Illan Meslier, 20 - Leeds United

Few goalkeepers can come away from a 6-2 defeat having impressed, but Meslier did so against Manchester United recently. His eight saves prevented Leeds' crushing loss from getting even more embarrassing, while only three goalkeepers have produced more in a single Premier League match this term. His total of 63 is also the second most in the division – the France Under-21 talent, who joined on a permanent deal from Lorient last year, appears to have a big future ahead of him.

Kristoffer Klaesson, 20 - Valerenga

Goalkeepers tend to break through a little later than outfield players, but Norway youth international Klaesson has already been first-choice at Valerenga for the best part of 16 months – he only turned 20 in November. Coincidentally, he could have become a team-mate of Meslier's in 2020 as Leeds were reportedly interested, but he remains in Norway for the time being.

William Saliba, 19 - Arsenal

Saliba is certainly one of the most recognisable names on this list – after all, he has been owned by Arsenal for getting on for two years. Unfortunately, he has not been afforded much of a chance by Mikel Arteta this term, which makes him an interesting prospect to watch in 2021. Either he'll eventually get an opportunity at the Gunners, or a loan move will provide him with a crack at first-team football. After a tricky 2020, he'll want to get his career back on track.

Perr Schuurs, 21 - Ajax

Given his appearance, playing style and the fact he has come through Ajax's academy, comparisons between Schuurs and Matthijs de Ligt were to be expected. He may not reach the Juventus star's level, but he has certainly shown real promise that is reportedly interesting Liverpool. Schuurs is one of the five youngest players to have featured for at least 500 minutes in this season's Champions League, while his 47 ball recoveries was the sixth highest of any player in the group stage.

Ethan Laird, 19 - Manchester United

Aaron Wan-Bissaka was supposed to fix Man United's issues at right-back, but this season his defensive positioning has been concerning and he appears to have become even less effective in attack – his chances created and open-play crosses per 90 minutes have decreased significantly. Laird has long been considered a fine prospect at United and boasts the technical abilities to be a threat in attack. If he can stay fit, chances could be in the offing.

Tariq Lamptey, 20 - Brighton and Hove Albion

Having joined Brighton last January from Chelsea, Lamptey has quickly made a name for himself as an exciting wing-back. Last year saw the diminutive talent enjoy something of a breakthrough, but in 2021 he'll be looking to truly establish himself and potentially break into the England squad. There are few more exhilarating full-backs in the Premier League – his 3.8 dribbles per game is the third most among defenders to have featured more than twice.

Nuno Mendes, 18 - Sporting CP

Sporting have a wealth of talent coming through at the moment and left-back Mendes is arguably chief among them. Blessed with fine technical abilities, the 18-year-old is apparently a target for Man United, Liverpool and Real Madrid. Already a regular having started 10 of the Primeira Liga leaders' 11 games this term, Mendes' 10 completed dribbles is the fourth-highest among defenders in the division, while his 28 interceptions is second only to team-mate Luis Neto.

Gabriel Menino, 20 - Palmeiras

An intriguing player with a well-rounded skillset, Menino has already transitioned from centre-back to defensive midfield to right-back despite his young age. It is in the latter position where he impressed enough to earn a first Brazil call-up last year and only two players have provided more than his five assists in the 2020 Brazilian Serie A.

Moises Caicedo, 19 - Independiente del Valle

The past month or so has seen Caicedo brought to the attention of a wider audience – or, more specifically, Manchester United fans. The all-action midfielder was the teenager with the most goals (four), shots attempted (24), chances created (19), successful passes (748) and dribbles completed (23) in Ecuador's top flight in 2020, while his passing accuracy of 90.1 per cent was the highest among players to attempt 500 or more.

Billy Gilmour, 19 - Chelsea

Scottish talent Gilmour had shown real promise during his 11 Chelsea appearances last season before a knee injury in July laid him low. He returned to action last month with a few cameos off the bench, and there will be plenty hoping he can return to his previous level quickly. A loan move might be on the cards, but Frank Lampard has high hopes for the crafty midfielder.

Yunus Musah, 18 - Valencia

Valencia are going through another difficult spell, with off-field matters often overshadowing on-pitch performances. Nevertheless, in United States international Musah, they appear to have a reason for optimism. Another tricky winger, Musah's 38 dribbles is the second most among Los Che players this term and he became their youngest LaLiga goalscorer (17 years, 338 days) this century when netting back in November. He's one that got away from Arsenal.

Ander Barrenetxea, 18 - Real Sociedad

A nimble right-footed left-winger, Barrenetxea broke into La Real's senior side last season with 17 appearances in LaLiga. His eight starts this term is already an increase of five on the entirety of 2019-20 and he has been using that extra time on the pitch to excite. He has attempted 41 dribbles in LaLiga, and his 56 per cent completion rate is bettered by only seven players – all of whom are much older – among those to have tried at least 40.

Bryan Gil, 19 - Eibar (on loan from Sevilla)

If Barrenetxea embodies the modern 'inverted winger' style, then Bryan is very much a wide midfielder of the classic variety. A direct touchline-hugger, the left-winger's aim is almost always to beat his man and get a cross into the box, and he is catching the eye on loan at Eibar this term. Only five wingers in LaLiga can better Bryan's 49 open-play deliveries, though his 22.5 per cent accuracy is better than all but one of those with more cross attempts. He's also tried 44 dribbles, his 52.3 per cent completion putting him close to Barrenetxea.

Jaminton Campaz, 20 - Deportes Tolima

Campaz may not be a household name yet, but a move to Europe or one of South America's leading leagues is surely not far away. The attacker, who can play wide or through the middle, is an explosive player but also productive. No younger player had more goal involvements (five goals and four assists) and chances created (32) in Colombia's top division than Campaz.

Amad Diallo, 18 - Manchester United

Although United splashed a reported £19million on Diallo, the young Ivorian remains something of an unknown quantity. A left-footed right-winger, he has only been given a handful of opportunities in Atalanta's senior side – though he has often caught the eye with his ability on the ball. Given United's lack of options on the right flank, he might just establish himself sooner than some expect – either way, he will be one to monitor.

Pedri, 18 - Barcelona

As each week passes, more and more Pedri looks to be settling into the role as Lionel Messi's heir at Barcelona, but whether he's ready to take up such a mantle as early as this year is another matter. Messi's contract ends in June and so he could well depart – taking on his creative burden would be an unenviable task for a teenager, though Pedri is proving effective. He is creating a chance every 45 minutes on average in the league this term, the third most frequent in the squad among those to have played at least five times.

Talles Magno, 18 - Vasco da Gama

Are you really a Brazilian 'wonderkid' if you've not been linked with every major European club? Talles Magno fits the bill there and it's easy to see why there's interest. His end product still needs work, but his ability to excite is considerable – the 18-year-old has completed more than twice as many dribbles (106) as any other teenager in Brazil's Serie A between 2019 and 2020.

 

Karim Adeyemi, 18 - Salzburg

There has been a buzz around Adeyemi for a few years now as has previously impressed scouts with Germany's youth sides and during a fruitful loan spell at Liefering. Now back at Salzburg, he looks destined to be another serious talent off the club's impressive conveyor belt. Adeyemi is the only player to have been involved in four goals in a single Austrian Bundesliga this term, scoring and getting a hat-trick of assists in the 8-2 victory over St. Polten, while he set up a goal on his league debut for the club in June. A thrilling talent with great vision and dribbling abilities, Adeyemi may get even greater responsibility in 2021 following the departure of Dominik Szoboszlai.

Marcos Leonardo, 17 - Santos

It's still early days for Marcos Leonardo, though Santos clearly rate him highly – the striker's release clause is €100m. He's already the underage player with the most minutes played (296) and goals (one) in Brazil's top division this season, while he became the sixth youngest player to net in the Copa Libertadores (17y, 173d) when scoring a winner against Defensa y Justicia.

Youssoufa Moukoko, 16 - Borussia Dortmund

There's not much that hasn't already been said about Moukoko. He became the Bundesliga's youngest ever player in November when making his debut a day after his 16th birthday, before then also setting a new record for the league's youngest goalscorer in December. New coach Edin Terzic has already given him two starts – his next target will be to break records on the international stage with Germany. He couldn't get into their Euros squad, could he?

Matias Arezo, 18 - River Plate (URU)

Stocky, technically gifted and already proving decisive in front of goal with seven goal involvements (five goals, two assists) in 15 league matches, Arezo has a lot going in his favour. Whether he has the mentality or focus to not let the 'new Luis Suarez' labels distract him remains to be seen, but he's already the youngest Uruguayan (17y, 349d) to ever score a brace in the Copa Sudamericana having done so against Atletico Nacional in November.

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