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Six breakthrough stars from the 2022/23 Champions League

The UEFA Champions League is the biggest stage in club football and this season a number of new faces have emerged to star in the competition.

From tournament debutants to younger stars earning increased minutes, several stars have enjoyed brilliant breakthrough campaigns in the Champions League this term.

We’ve picked out six of the best breakthrough stars from the 2022/23 Champions League season.

Khvicha Kvaratskhelia (Napoli)

Khvicha Kvaratskhelia might be difficult to pronounce, but the Georgian winger’s name has been the talk of Europe this season.

Kvaratskhelia has been in sublime form during a stunning season at Napoli, one which has seen Luciano Spalletti’s side win a first Serie A title in more than three decades and reach the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time.

Napoli were arguably the team of the group stage, having thrashed Liverpool in their opening fixture before emphatic back-to-back wins against Ajax and Rangers. The Italians scored 20 goals in the group stage alone and Kvaratskhelia was crucial to their success, with the 22-year-old a menacing presence out wide with his direct brand of football and ability to fashion chances.

He ended his first Champions League campaign with two goals and four assists from nine appearances, while only Robert Lewandowski averaged more shots per game and only Vinicius Junior produced more progressive carries and carries into the penalty area.

Antonio Silva (Benfica)

Benfica reached the Champions League quarter-finals for a second successive season and impressed early on to top a group containing Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus and Maccabi Haifa.

Antonio Silva starred for the Portuguese side in what has been an exciting first season at senior level, with the centre-back scoring his first goal for the club with the opener in a 4-3 win over Juventus.

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Having formed part of the Benfica side that won the UEFA Youth League in 2021/22, the teenager has handled the step up to the first team in admirable fashion and has produced a number of mature performances at the heart of the defence to capture the interest of Europe’s elite.

He scored a second Champions League goal as Benfica’s campaign came to an end during an entertaining draw at Inter Milan and the 19-year-old is on the radar of world football’s wealthiest.

Mohammed Kudus (Ajax)

Mohammed Kudus had featured for just 33 minutes in the Champions League before this season, but was a standout performer in the group stage despite Ajax’s early exit.

Kudus came close to leaving the Eredivisie outfit last summer, but remained in Amsterdam and has had a breakout campaign since moving a more advanced role. The Ghana international was electric during the group stages as he scored four goals and provided two assists in just five starts.

He netted in each of Ajax’s opening three games and scored his fourth of the campaign as the Dutch side thrashed Rangers 3-1 at Ibrox.

Kudus has scored 18 goals in all competitions this season and has been linked with a summer move to the Premier League.


Mykhailo Mudryk (Shakhtar Donetsk and Chelsea)

Mykhailo Mudryk became a household name during the Champions League’s group stages as the winger produced a series of scintillating showings for Shakhtar Donetsk.

Mudryk announced his arrival on this stage with a brilliant individual performance against RB Leipzig on matchday one, scoring once and providing two assists in Shakhtar’s 4-1 win in Germany.

Mudryk added two more goals as he scored home and away against Celtic, but was unable to inspire the Ukrainian side into the knockout rounds. His contribution did not go unnoticed however, and Arsenal and Chelsea competed for his signature during the January transfer window.

Chelsea won the race and signed Mudryk in a deal which could reach £88.5m, as part of the club’s record-breaking spend across the past two transfer windows. It’s been a difficult start for the fleet-footed winger in England, but Chelsea will hope Mudryk can recapture the form and confidence that made him one of Europe’s most coveted prospects earlier in the campaign.

Kim Min-jae (Napoli)

Kim Min-jae signed for Napoli last summer tasked with replacing the long-serving Kalidou Koulibaly at the heart of the club’s defence.

Koulibaly’s departure for Chelsea had left a sizeable void in the Napoli side, but Min-jae has been a mountainous presence during an unforgettable season for I Partenopei.

The South Korea international – who led Serie A for aerial duels won during Napoli’s Scudetto winning season – has been a commanding figure in Luciano Spalletti’s side and ranks second in the Champions League for interceptions (22) and aerial duels won (32) and sixth for clearances (32).

Napoli’s attacking football won admirers in Europe this season, but it was Min-jae who helped provide the foundation for their forwards to flourish. Signed for just €18m from Fenerbahce last summer, he is valued at around four times that figure now.

Ferran Jutgla (Club Brugge)

Ferran Jutgla departed Barcelona last summer in search of regular first-team football and has made an instant impact during a strong season at Club Brugge.

The 24-year-old has scored 15 goals in all competitions and was a crucial contributor as the Belgian side reached the knockout rounds.

Jutgla scored twice and laid on two assists during the group stage, as Brugge became just the second team from Belgium to reach the last 16 in the Champions League era.

The forward – signed for just €5m – has already been linked with a move to one of Europe’s top five leagues and his performances in the Champions League has sparked speculation of a call-up to the Spanish national team.

Read – Five times Lionel Messi lit up the Champions League

Read Also – Real Madrid’s best UCL victories over Premier League clubs

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