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Opinion

The rookies who could dominate the UEFA Champions League

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Roar Guru
3 days ago
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The Champions League is the best club football tournament in the world where players can become legends on a global stage that their own domestic comps just can’t match.

The top stars are household names but every season a new crop of talent emerges to take the breath away. These are the up and coming youngsters who could have a genuine impact on this season’s competition.

Brian Brobbey, RB Leipzig
The 19-year-old striker has quite the pedigree having come from the famous Ajax Academy and AFC Ajax themselves, before joining RB Leipzig for this season. He scored 15 goals last season in 36 appearances, including three goals in six games in the UEFA Europa League.

He’s already achieved international success as well, winning the UEFA European Under-17 Championship with the Netherlands in 2018 and 2019.

Playing in the Bundesliga week in week out should see him develop even further and while Leipzig might be in one of the hardest groups in the Champions League this year, this will just mean that Brobbey has an even bigger stage on which to shine.

Youssoufa Moukoko, Borussia Dortmund
The 16-year-old (yup – you read that correctly) forward has been impressing with Dortmund since he made his first team debut in the Bundesliga in November 2020. His record at junior levels has been incredible – he scored 127 goals and provided 26 assists in just 84 appearances with Dortmund’s youth set up before being promoted to the senior team.

As he is so young, he has learned how to use his lower centre of gravity and control to get past defenders who are usually much bigger and stronger than he is and while no one is saying he’s the next Messi, yet, he definitely has some similarities with the Barcelona legend in terms of quick feet and dribbling prowess.

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Daniel Maldini, AC Milan
If you say Maldini to a football fan then most of them will picture the legendary Italian defender whose dominance in European football lasted from the late 1980s all the way through into the 2000s. But if you ask an AC Milan fan they might pause for a moment and ask if you mean father or son.

Daniel Maldini (19 years old) is the second son of the iconic Paolo and has been making good progress breaking into the AC Milan senior side with his debut earlier this year in February.

Whereas his father was a powerful central defender, Daniel is a attacking midfielder who has caught the eye of many pundits with his dribbling ability and creativity. Many feel that he has the full range of skills to become a club legend in the footsteps of his father and there’s no better stage to stake a claim than the Champions League.

Jonathan David, Lille
21 year old David played a key role in Lille’s surprise Ligue 1 triumph last season and the Canadian striker is one to watch now the club have earned their way into the Champions League.

He scored 13 goals in 37 appearances in the domestic league as the club beat Paris Saint-Germain to the title by just one point and has become a fan favourite. He etched his name into club history not just for his goal scoring but also for his bravery in the crucial clash against PSG last season. Lille and PSG were tied at the top of the table when Lille visited Paris, knowing that it was crucial that they find a way to beat the talent packed Paris side for the first time in 25 years at their home ground.

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Not only did David score the only goal of the game to give Lille that unlikely win, but he did so hobbling on one leg after he’d been clattered just a couple of minutes befor hand. The goal would win his team the match and set them up for the league title, and the injury would see him having to miss two weeks in recovery. But a star was born.

Eduardo Camavinga, Real Madrid
The 18-year-old midfielder has actually already played four games in the Champions League back in 2019-20 for Rennes. But they weren’t exactly games to remember as the French club got hammered in the Group stages – losing five games and ending up with a goal difference of -8.

So the Real Madrid version of Camavinga is something very new and exciting to enjoy! He’s had the most incredible journey to the top of European football having been born in a refugee camp in Angola and then seeing his family home burn to the ground in France when he was just ten years old.

He’s already started to settle in well at Real Madrid where he scored on his debut after coming off the bench. The young midfielder has an impressive engine inside him that sees him play box to box for long periods of time.

With Real going through a tough period on and off the pitch, they really need a new hero and the humble Camavinga could be just the man.

Jack Grealish, Manchester City
The man who broke the English transfer records just recently is a well known star to many but hasn’t yet had the chance to impress on the Champions League stage. Now at Manchester City, his chance has come and everyone will be keen to see how he copes.

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He’s a wonderfully creative player and has plenty of experience in high pressure games, having been a part of the England squad that made the Euro 2020 Final.

What will be interesting to see is how many minutes the 25-year-old actually gets. Man City Coach Pep Guardiola is spoilt for choice when it comes to attacking talent and Grealish will have to prove himself week in week out to hold down a starting spot. He’s off to a good start having scored already in his four appearances for the club.

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