It doesn’t take a genius to work out why Derby County are considering Steve Cooper as their next manager (Sun, 22 November, page 61).
The Rams, after all, have some of the Championships most talented youngsters in their ranks. And the Swansea City boss is a manager who, even in his short career, has already earned a reputation for developing talent.
Three years ago, Cooper led an England side containing a fresh-faced Phil Foden, Jadon Sancho and Callum Hudson-Odoi to U17 World Cup glory.
Since replacing Graham Potter at Swansea City, he has taken the likes of Ben Cabango, Marc Guehi and Connor Roberts to an all-new level, turning an unfancied side into genuine promotion contenders.
All the while, a player he worked with closely during his time as England’s U17 coach is making waves in La Liga; standing out from a rather average crowd at cash-strapped Valencia, catching the eye of numerous Premier League scouts while finding himself at the centre of an international tug-of-war between England and the USA.
“This is a great kid; happy, outgoing, respectful, smiling all the time, infectious to be around, willing to learn… thoroughly likeable,” Cooper told ESPN of 17-year-old sensation Yunus Musah, who became the youngest Englishman to score in La Liga against Getafe recently and sparkled on his USMNT debut in November.
“What I especially like about him is that he’s got a really good aggression on the pitch. Yunus stands out for his [Paul] Pogba-like athleticism to power away from defenders.
“And if he receives possession in broken play in midfield, he drives away from opponents and leaves them behind. He has the technique of a real ‘football-playing’ midfielder but the athleticism and daring to make him a guy who’ll penetrate dangerous opposition areas because he’s also got great self-belief.”
All these attributes have been clear to see at Valencia, as Musah belies his tender years to establish himself as the beating heart of Javi Gracia’s midfield.
90Min reports that Wolverhampton Wanderers, Leeds United and Everton are already planning to lure the former England youth captain back to Great Britain, knowing that Valencia are in a financial mess of their own making and thereby open to offers.
Arsenal are reportedly keen too.
And no wonder, given that Musah honed his considerable talents at London Colney before departing for Spain in 2019. The Gunners want him back, desperate to ease any embarrassment felt about failing to keep hold of this uber-talented midfielder in the first place.
The last thing they need is another Serge Gnabry situation.
Interestingly enough, Pogba is not the only World Cup winning Frenchman Musah has been compared to. For some, his searing pace draws to mind another Les Bleus star – Kylian Mbappe.