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Six breakthrough stars from the 19/20 Champions League

Bayern Munich are the new champions of Europe after winning a sixth Champions League title with victory over Paris Saint-Germain on Sunday, the Bavarian’s 1-0 win sealing a historic treble-winning season for Hansi Flick’s side.

The German giants became the first side in history to win the Champions League having won every single fixture throughout the tournament, their flawless campaign rewarded with club football’s biggest prize.

The season’s action has been both enthralling and unprecedented with reformatted latter stages following a pandemic-disrupted season, and following the conclusion of the competition we’ve decided to look back at some of the best talents to make their mark this season.

Here are five of the best breakthrough stars from the 2019/20 Champions League:

Erling Haaland

Erling Haaland burst onto the scene with a tournament debut hat-trick against Genk in September, the Red Bull Salzburg star becoming the third-youngest player in history to net a treble in Europe’s elite club competition.

Haaland, however, was far from finished and scored prolifically for the Austrian outfit throughout the group stages, becoming the first teenager ever to score in their first five Champions League appearances after hitting eight goals in just four starts for Salzburg.

The Norwegian’s exploits were not enough to see Salzburg progress as they finished third behind Liverpool and Napoli, but his performances attracted the attention of the continent’s leading sides and led to a winter window move to Borussia Dortmund.

Haaland scored twice on his first Champions League appearance for Dortmund to down eventual runners-up Paris Saint-Germain at the Westfalenstadion, though the Bundesliga side were eliminated in the last-16 after losing the second leg to the Parisians.

The teenager’s performances had seen him establish himself as one of the most feared forwards in the tournament, however, his haul of 10 goals seeing him finish as the second-leading scorer in the Champions League this season and added to a phenomenal haul of 44 goals in all competitions for both Salzburg and Dortmund.

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Alphonso Davies

The first Canadian in history to win the Champions League, Alphonso Davies has enjoyed a rapid and unforgettable rise in the colours of Bayern Munich this season.

The teenager moved to Canada as a refugee before embarking on an incredible footballing journey, signing for Bayern in an MLS record sale from Vancouver Whitecaps before flourishing amid regular first-team football in Europe.

Davies’ exhilarating forward forays have been one of the key factors behind a historic season for the German giants, the 19-year-old establishing himself as one of the finest full-backs in world football after helping Bayern to a Champions League, Bundesliga and German Cup treble.

Brilliant going forward and ever-improving in the defensive aspect of his game, Davies’ lightening acceleration make him a vital component of Bayern’s play at either end of the pitch.

Davies has taken competing at the highest level comfortably in his stride during a sensational season, the sky seemingly the limit for a player who already looks like Canada’s greatest footballing export.

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Achraf Hakimi

Achraf Hakimi made steady progress during the first of two seasons on-loan at Borussia Dortmund before bursting into life during the current campaign, starring as a marauding attacking presence down the flanks for Lucien Favre’s side.

The Moroccan international is a wing-back by trade but his best work often comes much further forward, the youngster’s lightning pace and everlasting endurance marking him out as a key figure for Dortmund this season.

Hakimi scored four goals during Dortmund’s run to the last-16 of the competition, netting braces in group stage victories over Slavia Prague and Inter Milan as the 21-year-old added end product to his forward runs, his impressive goal tally added to by five goals and 10 assists in the Bundesliga this season.

The wing-back’s impressive performances saw Inter Milan secure the signing of the player on a permanent deal from parent club Real Madrid, where it is expected the star will continue his rise at the San Siro next season.

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Rodrygo

Real Madrid embarked on an expensive summer of recruitment last summer in a bid to revive the club’s faltering fortunes, their significant investment having so far proven to be a mixed bag.

One area of promise has been the development of Brazilian teenager Rodrygo, however, who has shown little signs of being overawed by his hefty price-tag after arriving from Santos.

The 19-year-old scored four goals and provided a further three assists in just four Champions League starts during the 2019/20 season, including scoring a perfect hat-trick against Galatasaray in the group stages, becoming the second youngest treble scorer in the competition’s history behind only Real Madrid legend Raul.

Rodrygo’s performances and productivity on the Champions League stage has been a significant cause for optimism for the Spanish champions as they bid to re-establish themselves amongst Europe’s finest, the record 13-time winners looking to bounce back next season with a new-look side following their last-16 exit to Manchester City.

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Dayot Upamecano

Dayot Upamecano has been linked with almost every leading club in European football in recent months, speculation that is only likely to intensify following another outstanding season for RB Leipzig.

The French youngster was the stand-out player from Leipzig’s first venture into the knockout stages, the Bundesliga side upsetting the odds to reach the semi-finals before being eliminated by PSG in the last four.

Upamecano helped Julian Nagelsmann’s side top their group before keeping clean sheets in both legs of their last-16 victory over Tottenham, though it is his performance in Leipzig’s quarter-final victory over Atletico Madrid that really made the footballing world stand up and take notice.

The 21-year-old was by far the best player on the pitch as Leipzig progressed to the last four, registering 100% for tackle success and take-ons completed, the ball-playing defender showing he belongs amongst Europe’s elite.

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Hwang Hee-Chan

The elder statesman amongst this list of precocious talents at 24-years-old, Hwang Hee-Chan starred for an exciting Red Bull Salzburg side which made their presence known during this season’s group stages.

The South Korean international formed part of a free-flowing forward line-up alongside the aforementioned Erling Haaland and now Liverpool attacker Takumi Minamino, the trio working brilliantly in tandem as the Austrians brought a refreshing style of play to the early stages of the competition.

Hwang scored three goals – including a fine effort against Liverpool at Anfield – and provided a further three assists in just six appearances, his performances seeing Europe’s bigger clubs begin to circle.

Salzburg’s forward line was subsequently cherry-picked with each of the trio moving on to pastures new, Hwang heading to sister club RB Leipzig ahead of next season with the task of replacing Timo Werner following the latter’s summer switch to Chelsea.

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