A competition that has helped world-class stars win their first Ballon d’Or awards and managers deliver the ultimate prize in club soccer to their passionate fans, the Champions League is the pinnacle of domestic soccer in Europe. Featuring the most formidable sides from the best leagues around, it’s a fantastic competition that has served up endless amounts of unforgettable drama over the years.
Another reason why the Champions League provides so much to the average modern-day soccer fan is because it’s a competition that contains some of the most talented youngsters that are currently emerging in the sport. For example, the likes of Kylian Mbappé first rose to prominence turning out in the Champions League as a youngster for Monaco, resulting in numerous major clubs in Europe hoping to secure his services. Today, there are a number of undoubted talents that are looking to follow in the footsteps of France’s biggest star, with a number of European soccer’s behemoths currently circling.
So, with that in mind, let’s assess some of the Champions League wonderkids that are worth keeping tabs on in 2023 and beyond. Should these talented individuals keep showcasing their obvious potential on the highest stage in domestic soccer, then they could become household names in the future, much like the aforementioned Kylian Mbappé.
Jude Bellingham’s potential is scary
Although England might’ve failed to live up to expectations at the World Cup in Qatar, there were a number of promising signs for fans of the Three Lions to cling onto. One of them was undoubtedly the continued emergence of Jude Bellingham, a combative midfielder with bags of potential. Currently playing for Borussia Dortmund, a side that is 13/8 to come out on top in the betting stakes when they face Chelsea in their Round of 16 fixture, Bellingham is mature beyond his years and is already being tipped for the England captaincy in the future. Bellingham’s attitude is supplemented by an all-round game that makes him one of the most complete young midfielders around. Speculation is rife regarding his future at the moment, too, with the likes of Liverpool, Manchester City and Real Madrid all being linked with a move for the Birmingham City academy graduate.
Benjamin Šeško is on the move
A Slovenian professional footballer who plays as a forward for Austrian Bundesliga club Red Bull Salzburg, Benjamin Šeško has already been snapped up by RB Leipzig, a side he is joining in July this year after a deal between the two Red Bull-owned clubs was agreed. Aged just 19, the dangerous forward knows where the goal is and is a constant threat with his clever movement and pace in behind. Should Benjamin Šeško continue to progress at his future German club, then some of the Europe’s major teams could make their move.
Gavi is the new Xavi
Although they’re no longer in the competition after failing to perform in the Champions League once again, Barcelona are still a massive club in soccer. Barca’s demise has been well documented, with the financial issues at the club seemingly strangling any plans of progression. One of the main hopes for Barcelona fans, though, is the conveyor belt of talent that their illustrious La Masia academy system continues to churn out. The latest gifted individual to break into the first team ranks and become an integral player is Gavi, an 18-year-old midfielder that many fans and experts alike are comparing to Xavi; his manager and a much-loved midfield legend at the club. Gavi has a long way to go before the comparisons make full sense, but his ability on the ball suggests that he’s a midfield maestro in the making.
Kvaratskhelia is a danger for Napoli
Full of goals and playing an attacking style of soccer that is pleasing on the eye, Napoli are currently flying high in the Italian domestic league and appear to have the weapons within their ranks to cause a number of issues in Europe, too. So far, evidence suggests that Khvicha Kvaratskhelia is a key cog in their wheel, with the talented Georgian winger standing out in his first season in the Champions League thanks to his direct running and notable end product. If Khvicha Kvaratskhelia is a Napoli player next season, then the Italian club would have done extremely well to keep hold of him.