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First a message from our editor, James Andrew:
This summer, we watched on with a mixture of horror and joy as two of the biggest stars on Planet Football dominated the transfer agenda. Messi and Ronaldo may still be on top of the world into their mid-30s – but the next generation are ready to steal their limelight.
As we prepare to usher in another giant World Cup year, FFT assesses 22 starlets under the age of 22 who look set to shine around the globe. Leading the way is Borussia Dortmund’s freakish frontman Erling Haaland, who looks set to be the most in-demand player in world football next summer when every top club battles to trigger his €75m release clause. It’s a fierce war that’s already begun.
There are plenty of young Brits to get excited about too, though – not least Haaland’s thriving BVB colleague Jude Bellingham, plus the likes of Phil Foden, a returning Harvey Elliott at Liverpool, Billy Gilmour and Bukayo Saka.
Elsewhere, we sat down for a chat with Saka’s Arsenal ancestor of a decade ago, Jack Wilshere, to reminisce and discover what’s next for the former midfielder.
If you’re struggling for Christmas present ideas, meanwhile (this editor is guilty), FFT has your back with our guide to the finest football gear on the market. Failing that, just buy it all for yourself...
Erling Haaland: football's most wanted
Messi and Ronaldo dominated the transfer agenda in 2021, but now it’s time for the big boys to scrap over the next generation. None will be more in demand than Haaland, the first in our list of 22 stars under the age of 22, who could rule during the year ahead...
Phil Foden: five years later
Mason Greenwood: Carrington killer
Manchester United’s early-season star was rated even higher than Marcus Rashford by in-the-know Old Trafford insiders – and he’s only getting better. FFT hears the lowdown on another Red Devil academy triumph who’s been special from the very start
Olivier Giroud answers YOUR questions
The former Arsenal and Chelsea striker opens up on 'beef' with Karim Benzema, Puskas-winning scorpion kicks, World Cup triumph – and how his faith once stopped him joining Everton.
Jack Wilshere exclusive
Wilshere was once English football’s thrilling crown prince; a Barça-beating force of nature facing inevitable stardom. Ten years on, circumstances have sadly made for a harsher reality – but as he tells FFT, he’s nowhere near being written off yet...
Bobby Robson's Barcelona
Twenty-five years ago, Bobby Robson and his plucky translator pitched up at Barcelona to replace the great Johan Cruyff. But in a season which brought the popular Englishman together with Jose Mourinho, Ronaldo and Pep Guardiola, not even success was enough to avoid a bitter ending in Catalonia
On the ground: Venezia
Getting to Venezia’s ground by water is among the strangest experiences in football, but it still pales in comparison to the club’s journey back to Italy’s top tier – three bankruptcies and all. FFT grabs a gondola to visit the unique team floating on more than just a picturesque lagoon
Saadi Gaddafi in Serie A
What’s a football-mad son of a dictator to do but wield his family’s influence to play in Serie A? Saadi Gaddafi got his wish with Perugia back in 2003, but the beautiful game would eventually contribute to his ugly downfall
Mara Gomez: my story
Mara made history in December 2020 when she became the first transgender footballer to play in Argentina’s professional women’s league, before sealing a high-profile move to Estudiantes and qualifying as a nurse. In her own words, the striker tells FFT of her lifelong battle for recognition… and why it’s far from over
In the Players Lounge...
Glenn Hoddle explains his Diego Maradona regret, Hermann Hreidarsson opens up on his unwanted Premier League record, Fabio Aurelio remembers Bellamy vs Riise, while Tim Flowers explains how a cracking Chinese meant he missed the infamous 'dentist's chair' night
In our front section, we bring you the usual batch of goodness from Planet Football – this month, featuring our sparkling Christmas gift guide to make sure you're not caught short when the fat man comes.
There's an update on Qatar 2022, an introduction to the last country on Earth to get a football association, Tony Bellew answering all on Everton, Dermot Gallagher on the time Paul Durkin rode a pink tricycle, the games that changed Claudio Reyna's life, Owen Coyle on his adventures in India and our usual quiz.
Going Around The Grounds
Middlesbrough stopper Sol Bamba opens up on Sven, peculiar times at Palermo and his successful battle with cancer. Meanwhile, former USA defender Kelly Lindsey explains how she ended up in Lewes via Afghanistan, we explain how Henry VIII made footballing history, why Motherwell became champions of Spain and much, much more. Don't miss it!
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