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UEFA Champions League 2017-18: 7 Biggest Breakthroughs of the Season

As the current season of the UEFA Champions League is coming to an end, our blog would like to focus on the brightest youngsters, who took part in this season’s competition and are expected to become world-class stars for the upcoming seasons. Most of the players in the list have proven their talent both in their domestic leagues and in Champions League.
Cengiz Ünder (Roma)
The Turkish winger Cengiz Ünder joined Roma taking the difficult project of Mo Salah replacement. The Egyptian has now become one of the most discussed players in Europe, while the Turkish youngster has still registered some local successes. Cengiz Ünder’s great development is related to his youth club Altinordu, which is not among the most famous youth academies in Europe, but is known to be the best footballing factory of Turkey. Cengiz Ünder later joined to Basaksehirspor, where he helped the team become one of the title contenders in Super League. Moving to a bigger club and playing outside of Turkey for the first time in his career, the 20-year-old talent managed to deal with the high pressure and show his top class.
Aleksandr Golovin (CSKA Moscow)
The 21-year old CSKA Moscow midfielder Aleksandr Golovin is among the biggest stars the Russian football system has produced recently. The more or less mediocre level of Russian football these days makes it possible to notice Golovin’s talent right away. The Russian international is able to make quick and effective decisions when the pace is high. Golovin has undergone his development at all CSKA Moscow levels, reaching the first team, hence being one of the best academy players of the team for recent years. CSKA is on a risk of losing Golovin during this summer, as many clubs around Europe, Arsenal among them, show strong interest in the Russian youngster. Even though Arsenal managed to pass CSKA in the quarterfinal of this season’s Europa League, Golovin did manage to provide top level performance. Now he has a good chance to prove his talent at World Cup 2018, hosted by his home country this summer.
Ousmane Dembele (Barcelona)
One of the potential stars of modern football, without doubt, is the 21-year-old Ousmane Dembele, who joined Barcelona from Borussia Dortmund for more than a 100-million-euro deal last summer. Dembele has signed a contract until 2022, and, if the Frenchman spends the next couple of seasons Barcelona, which pays great attention to developing young talents, he would be able to develop into player from the top shelf. The former Rennes attacker has received decent playing time in La Liga and Champions League this season, appearing in 23 games. This figure will be increasing every next season, as Dembele gets more integrated into Barcelona atmosphere. Despite his young age, he has already played 9 matches for the French national team since 2016 and will be one of the biggest talents to watch in World Cup 2018.
Corentin Tolisso (Bayern Munich)
The 23-year-old French international is among the new generation talents, who could lead the team to glorious performances in the upcoming major competitions, including World Cup 2018. Tolisso started his career at Olympique Lyon, where he competed for the youth and second teams of the club, before shining in the first team and eventually moving to Bayern for a fee of 22 million euros. He has scored 9 goals in his 34 games in both Bundesliga and Champions League, which is an impressive result for a midfielder. Tolisso has already collected 5 international caps. 
Andreas Christensen (Chelsea)
Chelsea’s Andreas Christensen has had a decent season, being in top form throughout the whole season, which unfortunately could not be referred as a successful one for his club, especially compared to the last season, where Antonio Conte’s side won the Premier League. The Danish defender, after receiving his football education at Brøndby, moved to Chelsea’s academy at the age of 16, where he successfully upgraded into the first team in 2015, aged 19. Thanks to a loan agreement with Borussia Mönchengladbach, AC became much stronger and experienced, so, after returning to Chelsea in the beginning of the current season, he became one of the key defenders of the London side. The 22-year-old defender has received an opportunity to prove himself at his first ever major tournament with the Danish national team this summer and make a strong statement on why his value has increased from 18 to 40 million euros during this season.
Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool)
The only player in the list to be present in Kyiv as a Liverpool's Trent Alexander Arnold is one of the biggest openings of Champions League 2017-18participant of the season’s Champions League final, Trent Alexander-Arnold is one of the most promising players the Liverpool academy has produced recently. The club signed a 5-year professional contract with him back in 2016. Taking part in 32 games this season in Premier League (19), FA Cup(2) and Champions League (11), and scoring 3 goals in these matches, Alexander-Arnold is already one of the most important players of his club. His transfer value has increased by 6.2 million euros since the start of the season, and this trend is expected to carry on in the same direction the next several seasons. The player has received massive support from his manager Jürgen Klopp, which led to support from England national team coach, too. Gareth Southgate has selected the teenager to represent the Three Lions in World Cup following his performances at Liverpool and England’s U-21 team.
Leroy Sane (Manchester City)
Arguably the biggest breakthrough of the season is Leroy Sane of Manchester City. The Premier League Young player of the year 2017-18 has been vital in Pep Guardiola’s system this season, helping the team win the Premier League and show some magnificent football. The German youngster scored 14 goals in 49 matches this season. Sane didn’t score in this season’s Champions League, despite his 9 appearances, but was there to help the team score in the most important matches. The German international came from Bayer Leverkusen academy and played for Schalke 04 prior to his big transfer to England. He hasn’t scored for his national team yet, but Joachim Löw has included the 22-year-old star into his World Cup squad, so the first goal for Die Mannschaft is about to come. Leroy Sane is now 75 million euros worth, according to Transfermarket.
Not everybody from this list is a new face to football fans, but these young talents have all the chances to become the future Ronaldos and Messis, if they keep on developing the next couple of years. It would not be a big surprise to see one of them lift the Ballon d’Or in the future, but things around the beautiful game develop faster than ever, so the young talents need to show a lot of hard-work, persistence and flexibility to write their names in the history books.


Physical attributes


Technical attributes

ball control
free kicks
long throws
shooting accuracy
shooting power
slide tackle
stand tackle
aerial control
one on ones
off the area
penalty saving

Mental attributes

tactical awareness
work rate
positioning in the line
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