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Ones to watch - UEFA Champions League

With the group stage of the Champions League reaching the halfway point, there have been many young talents that have shone on the biggest stage. The talent around Europe is staggering and the Champions League provides an array of brilliant young stars who are excelling in the competition.

The huge clubs will be swarming like sharks to pick up a bargain and none other than Benjamin Sesko could be the man. The 19-year-old plays for Red Bull Salzburg and has starred in recent performances in the competition.

The Slovenian forward foreshadowed his form in pre-season when his strike against Liverpool won them the game. What a strike it was as he placed the ball past none other than Alisson Becker of Liverpool.

The forward has brought that form into Europe’s biggest competition. The Slovenian is yet to register a goal in the Champions League; however, he is a constant danger and his recent goal for his international side was a beauty. A left-footed volley from outside the area conveys his elite ball-striking technique.

Despite his lack of goals in the competition thus far, he is providing a fantastic output in the Austrian Bundesliga with 4 goals and 2 assists in 10 appearances. For such a young age, the man has a staggering physique standing at 6,4 feet tall and managing 2.09 shots on target per 90. The Slovenian is in his 3rd season now and is looking to be a huge talent and has a transfer value of just £18 million.

With Manchester United needing a striker due to Cristiano Ronaldo’s lack of game time, the Salzburg star could be the perfect replacement for them and will be there for years to come.

The next star comes from Germany, Jamal Musiala. Perhaps the one that got away for England and Gareth Southgate. The German international had the opportunity to play for England with two appearances playing for the England U21s.

However, living in Germany from a young age provided him with a German passport and he lined up against England last Monday for the German national team and excelled when he won a penalty for his nation.

The German maestro has been excellent in the Champions League this season for the German champions: Bayern Munich. Jamal Musiala has 4.27 shot-creating actions per 90 and is providing for the likes of Sadio Mane and Leroy Sane.

In the European campaign, the 19-year-old has 2 assists in the opening three games and is looking to be a fantastic catalyst for the German champions. He was particularly brilliant in the game against Barcelona which saw Bayern coming out with a 2-0 win over the Spanish giants.

Musiala’s dribbling ability is a fantastic strength of his, with a staggering 7.10 progressive carries per 90. Showcasing his excellent ability to carry the ball and create chances for his teammates. The 19-year-old also provides a fantastic work rate for Julian Nagglesman’s side. He has 19.43 pressures per 90, showcasing his desire to work hard for his club and win the ball back in attacking positions.

With him currently being at the cream of the crop in terms of Europe’s sides, it is difficult to see him going anywhere any time soon. However, the temptation of the Premier League is difficult to ignore. All of the top six will be circling for the talent of Musiala and we could see him make a big-money move to the likes of Manchester City or Liverpool in the near future.

The next top talent coming out of Germany is much more well-known, in the form of Jude Bellingham. The Englishman has been around for what seems an age and was on the radar of many clubs when he was playing at Birmingham. The 19-year-old joins a long list of talents coming out of Borussia Dortmund and English talents that have gone to Germany to progress their game.

Despite his youth, The Englishman now has 18 appearances in the Champions League, the most of any English teenager. He also excelled for England against the nation he plays his football in last Monday. With 17 appearances now for England, the young man looks set in stone to start for England at the World Cup this winter.

Jude Bellingham made yet another statement with his header against Manchester City, proving he is more than ready to make that step up into the Premier League. He has two goals thus far in the competition and has already captained his club at the age of 19. The Englishman has been dubbed the new “Steven Gerrard” and his desire to be compared to the man has been well documented.

He is far and away the biggest midfield talent Europe has to offer and it’s no mean feat either with the likes of Pedri and Gavi from Barcelona being brilliant. Bellingham’s stats are world-class, with 3.11 shot-creating actions per 90 and 4.86 progressive carries.

The Englishman does not lack in the defensive side of his game, with 19.78 pressures per 90 and 6.26 of them being successful. Borussia Dortmund is aware of the interest of many clubs surrounding the 19-year-old and will have to give in eventually. However, he will not leave for cheap with the latest reports suggesting that he could be valued at up to £130 million and Liverpool are leading the race to sign him, the perfect Gerrard replacement some might say.

Last and not least is the man that is nicknamed “Kvaradona”. Khvicha Kvaratskhelia is the top talent coming out of Italy, with his club Napoli performing at a very high standard in the league and Champions League. The Georgian international has been fantastic this season and was a bargain, coming from Dinamo Batumi for just £ 9 million.

The 21-year-old has 2 goals and 1 assist in 3 games in the Champions League. He was particularly brilliant against Liverpool and caused Liverpool’s backline huge problems in their 4-1 win. The winger has huge talent and an excellent dribbling ability which sees him take on his fullback with great aplomb.

Khvicha has 2.56 dribbles completed per 90 and 5.13 shot creating actions per 90. The Georgian international has been a sensation for Napoli and he has been a huge part of their form, with another impressive win over Ajax last night. He scored and assisted in their outstanding 6-1 win against Ajax. Napoli now sits top in Serie A and top in group A of the Champions League.

The 21-year-old is the name on everyone’s lips and is enjoying a breakthrough season with Napoli. His transfer value has tripled with his transfer value now being £31.5 million. However, Napoli won’t let him go for that cheap and will be looking for a record-breaking sale for the brilliant young winger.

His talent is catching the eye of many top European clubs and with Chelsea’s new ownership and manager, the West London club will be looking to finally replace Eden Hazard and Khvicha may be the man to replicate the Belgian’s antics.

On the other hand, it looks as if the Georgian is very happy in Naples and will look to further his game in the Serie A before he makes a big move elsewhere. His transfer fee is hard to value, but you cannot help but feel if he carries on in this vein of form, he will be at least £100 million in the current market.

The Champions League is the biggest stage for any young player, and these are just a few of the talents that are scattered across Europe. There will be many more breakthrough stars and it is exciting times for many of the European clubs.

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