After a highly entertaining opening few matches within the 2019-20 Champions League campaign, many players have already taken the competition by storm. Although there is still a long way to go until the conclusion of the tournament, several of Europe’s emerging stars have enhanced their ever-growing reputations within the world of football following a bright start in the group stages.
As a result, we’re going to look at some of the players to watch out for in this year’s Champions League.
One of England’s biggest talents that will be looking to make his mark in Europe this season is Chelsea’s Tammy Abraham. Since Frank Lampard returned to Stamford Bridge in the summer of 2019 after enjoying an encouraging spell as the manager of Derby, the 22-year-old forward has taken his game to new heights. Despite already having Premier League experience after playing for Swansea on loan back in the 2017-18 season, few expected Abraham to make an immediate impact after returning from his most recent loan move at Aston Villa. However, in all competitions thus far, the Englishman has scored nine goals, and, rather impressively, leads the likes of Harry Kane, Mohamed Salah and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the race for the Premier League golden boot.
Lille vs Chelsea (1-2) | UEFA Champions League Highlights
After the extent of Chelsea’s transfer ban came to light, it was widely regarded that any future improvement at the club would be slow. Even though there are vulnerabilities in Frank Lampard’s youthful side, their current ban has been somewhat of a blessing in disguise when you consider the emergence of Abraham. Although the 22-year-old striker was unable to continue his domestic form in Chelsea’s first group game at home to Valencia, the Englishman scored the opening goal in their second fixture against Lille, which they went on to win 2-1. According to sports.betway.com as of the 15th of October, Abraham is 66/1 in the football betting to be this season’s top scorer in the Champions League. While many are favored ahead of the youngster, he has already defied the odds in the Premier League, making him one to watch in Europe.
Red Bull Salzburg’s Takumi Minamino is another up-and-coming star who is taking the Champions League by storm. While the 24-year-old midfielder isn’t one of the biggest names in Europe at present, his early displays in the European competition has caught the attention of football fans. Throughout his time at the reigning Austrian champions, in which the Japanese international has played 188 games, Minamino, who has predominantly been used from the left-hand side of the field, has scored 61 goals, while assisting another 41. Additionally, already this campaign, the winger has a 14-goal involvement in just 11 games.
Liverpool vs Salzburg (4-3) | UEFA Champions League Highlights
Moreover, although Minamino has missed a total of 18 games since 2013, it’s clear that the 24-year-old Japanese midfielder has fully recovered from previous problems, reducing the risk of repeated future injuries. Despite having knee issues earlier in his career, the Salzburg star’s most recent Champions League performance at Anfield showed no signs of any long-term damage. After Liverpool stormed into a three-goal lead after 36 minutes, many expected the reigning European champions to see out the game in the second half. However, a goal and an assist from Minamino saw the Austrian side level the score, before Salah eventually found a winner. With a total of one goal and three assists after just two Champions League matches, the Japanese international has unquestionably emerged into one of the most exciting prospects in this season’s competition.
Along with being the home to King’s Landing in Game of Thrones, Croatia also possesses one of Europe’s most sought-after youngsters in the form of Spanish-born Dani Olmo. Although the 21-year-old came through the Barcelona youth academy, the attacking midfielder opted to leave the reigning Spanish champions for Dinamo Zagreb in 2015. The decision to leave Barcelona was deemed as the best move for Olmo’s career progression, and, at present, the move appears to have been vindicated. Zagreb, which is well-known for producing players such as Luka Modric and Mateo Kovacic, has been instrumental in the 21-year-old developing into one of Europe’s hottest prospects.
DANI OLMO • Fantastic Dribbles • Dinamo Zagreb • Goals & Skills
Although Olmo has yet to score or create a goal in the opening two matches of the group stage, his performance in Zagreb’s 4-0 win over Atalanta on matchday one showed exactly why top-level clubs, such as Manchester City and United, have shown interest in him. With that being said, however, during the qualifying process, in which Zagreb overcame Saburtalo, Ferencvaros and Rosenborg BK, the attacking midfielder had a six-goal involvement in five of the matches that he featured him. With the best still to come from the former Barcelona academy graduate, he is undoubtedly one to watch throughout the remainder of Zagreb’s Champions League campaign.
Plenty to Keep an Eye On
The Champions League has long been a competition for the world’s best to establish themselves further and demonstrate their unbelievable talent. Although that is still the case, players such as Abraham, Minamino and Olmo highlight that there are also many up-and-coming talents to keep an eye on this year.