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Nations League: Five players to look out for

With the return of the Nations League this week, we take a look at some in-form players to watch in what marks the last international meet-up before the Qatar World Cup kicks off in November.

Mykhaylo Mudryk

A repeat of the World Cup play-off semi-final in June, Scotland will once again play host to Ukraine in League B of the Nations League in search of a better result this time around at Hampden Park. Succumbing to a comprehensive 3-1 defeat by an impressive Ukrainian side three months ago, the Scots require a positive result in order to keep their ambitions of topping the League B group alive.

A 72nd-minute substitute in this aforementioned World Cup play-off showdown in June, Shakhtar Donetsk winger Mykhaylo Mudryk has emerged as one of the hottest properties in Europe at the start of this season. Scoring on two successive matchdays in the Champions League group stages – against RB Leipzig and Scottish champions Celtic – the 21-year-old will be aiming to transfer his dazzling club form onto the international stage.

Dubbed the ‘Ukrainian Neymar’, Mudryk has already attracted interest from the likes of Liverpool, Arsenal and Everton, with strong showings for his country likely to only elevate his stock. Having failed to score in his first five appearances for Ukraine, Mudryk will be keen to put this right in his country’s upcoming triple-header against Scotland and Armenia.

With blistering pace and a calmness in front of goal, the Scots defenders could have their work cut out to contain Mudryk, just as the Celtic representatives of the national team found out last week in the Champions League when the winger latched onto a through-ball to fire home in devastating fashion in the first half.

You can bet on Mudryk to score anytime against Scotland at Hampden at 7/2, and Ukraine to top their Nations League group at 4/7.

William Saliba

One of the stars of the Premier League season so far for Arsenal after returning from a very successful loan spell at Marseille, the upcoming Nations League matches present a perfect opportunity for 21-year-old centre-back William Saliba to cement a place in France’s defence ahead of the Qatar World Cup.

Scoring two goals for the Gunners in the Premier League so far and catching the eye with his ultra-composed performances at the back, Saliba will head into the international camp full of confidence.

With the World Cup holders having endured a dismal start to their Nations League campaign, with two draws and two defeats from their opening four fixtures, Saliba will be hoping to help France return to form against Austria and Denmark this week.

Having started three of France’s last five matches, strong showings from Saliba in the Nations League could be enough to ensure his place on the plane to the World Cup in Qatar.

bet365 are offering odds of 40/1 for William Saliba to score anytime and France to beat Austria 2-0.

Khvicha Kvaratskhelia

Bursting onto the scene in Serie A this season after a summer switch to Napoli from Georgian side Dinamo Batumi, Kvicha Kvaratskhelia captured attention across Europe following a masterful display against Liverpool in the group stages of the Champions League.

A skilled attacking player nicknamed ‘Kvaradona’ by Napoli fans in homage to Argentine club legend Diego, 21-year-old Kvaratskhelia has quickly emerged as the golden boy of Georgian football with eight goals in his first 17 caps for the national team.

Playing a starring role as Georgia have stormed to the top of their Nations League group with three wins and a draw from their opening four matches, ‘Kvara’ will be aiming to inspire his country to further success in the upcoming matches against North Macedonia and Gibraltar.

bet365 have priced Georgia at 21/20 to beat North Macedonia in the Nations League.

Jude Bellingham

Regarded as one of the most talented young players in Europe, there are growing calls for 19-year-old Jude Bellingham to assume a regular starting place alongside Declan Rice in midfield for England ahead of the World Cup in Qatar.

Enjoying a productive start to the season at Borussia Dortmund - with two goals in the first two matchdays of the Champions League group stages against Sevilla and Manchester City - the Nations League offers Bellingham a window of opportunity to make himself undroppable in Gareth Southgate’s side.

A complete midfielder who has demonstrated his ability to chip in with goals from midfield for Dortmund with regularity, Bellingham is yet to open his account for his country.

bet365 are offering odds of 13/2 for Jude Bellingham to score anytime and register his first England goal against Italy.

Leroy Sane

A Premier League sensation at Manchester City where he collected two league titles, Leroy Sane took a while to rediscover his best form back home in Germany after a transfer to Bayern Munich two years ago.

However, after a positive campaign last year in which he netted 14 goals in all competitions and a strong start to this season, Sane looks set to be a big player for Die Mannschaft at the Qatar World Cup.

With two goals in Bayern Munich’s opening two Champions League fixtures, including a decisive second in a 2-0 win against Barcelona, Sane will join up with Hansi Flick’s squad for the Nations League fixtures against Hungary and England in top form.

The 26-year-old winger is 4/1 to score first against Hungary.

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