World Cup Qualifying recommences this weekend, and the flurry of fixtures on the horizon will give Premier League managers time to assess their targets on the international stage – and for fans to see their club’s potential newboys in action.
So, here are five of the most wanted men, and where to watch them this weekend.
Kylian Mbappe (Sweden v France)
With multiple Premier League clubs reportedly ready to break the world transfer record for the 18-year-old, all eyes will be on the Monaco prodigy. Mbappe wowed Ligue 1 with 15 goals and 11 assists last term, but has only taken tentative steps in Les Bleus’ senior ranks so far.
March’s substitute appearance against Luxembourg was his first senior outing for Didier Deschamps’ men – and this represents his first major test on the big international stage. The likes of Jose Mourinho and Arsene Wenger will be waiting with bated breath.
Alvaro Morata (FYR Macedonia v Spain)
Having seen a £52m bid rejected for the player, Man United now have to make a decision over whether to bolster their bid or walk away. And the powers that be at Old Trafford could base that call on Monday night’s fixture in Skopje.
Generally used as an impact sub by national team boss Julen Lopetegui, he netted twice from the bench in the first qualifier against Liechtenstein, but hasn’t scored since. Can he get back amongst the goals on Sunday night?
And more importantly, whose shirt will Morata be wearing when he returns to Macedonia as Real Madrid face Manchester United in August’s European Super Cup clash?
Gelson Martins (Latvia v Portugal)
With Liverpool supposedly concerned by the high fee required to bring in Roma ace Mohamed Salah, the club’s attention has turned to promising Sporting Lisbon youngster Gelson Martins. And Jurgen Klopp will have a close eye on the winger this weekend.
Portugal travel to Skonto Stadium looking to close the gap on Switzerland at the top of Group B, and the 22-year-old is likely to play at least some part. Having come off the bench in three of their past four WCQ games, it could be time for the winger to make his first competitive start for the Euro 2016 winners.
Victor Lindelof (Sweden v France)
There’s also interest for the Manchester United boss on the other side of this fixture, with one of football’s longest will they, won’t they sagas possibly set to reach its conclusion. So, will we finally see the towering centre-back at Old Trafford this summer?
With the Benfica ace reportedly very keen on a move to the North-West, he’ll be hoping to impress his potential new employers – and how better to do that than a shut-out against the Euro 2016 finalists?
Victory could also take Sweden to the top of their qualifying group – quite an achievement with the likes of Les Bleus and 2010 World Cup Finalists Netherlands also in contention.
Leonardo Bonucci (Italy v Liechtenstein)
Another huge proposed deal which fell through last summer, Bonucci’s move to Chelsea may turn out to have just been postponed after all. That’s because Antonio Conte is after the Juventus man again, with the Blues boss reportedly willing to offer £48m and Nemanja Matic, to secure his services.
While this is unlikely to be the Juve ace’s toughest assignment, we expect the Chelsea manager and his backroom staff will be tuning in, as the 47-year-old looks to reunite with the defensive rock who helped bring him three years of success in Turin.
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