(Rania Elhilali/The Intermission)
The Champions League group stages are right around the corner and the excitement is starting to settle in. This season of Champions League action will feature multiple big names from the likes of Karim Benzema, Lionel Messi, Robert Lewandowski and many more. Yet, with every new season of UCL football comes new talents and names to keep an eye out for.
To dive more into the spectacular talent that resides within the group stages, here are just a few names that should be kept on the lookout for as they have the potential to create major moments and possible big upsets in the coming group stage games.
Aurélien Tchouaméni - Real Madrid
One of Real Madrid’s latest signings from AS Monaco, the young Frenchman has been favoured to become a long-term replacement after the recent departure of midfielder Casemiro signed with Premier League side Manchester United. This young midfielder has the potential to become one of the major stars of the future.
Yet for now, as of recent La Liga performances, Tchouaméni showed Ancelotti what he is capable of adding to the team, which is to refresh the midfield with such driven and talented players surrounding him. After being a vital source to the recent third-place finish in the league for AS Monaco, one can certainly keep a tab on Aurélien during Champions League nights as he becomes Real Madrid’s newest defensive midfielder.
Karim Adeyemi - Borussia Dortmund
A name familiar to most, after helping lead Austrian side FC Salzburg to their first knockout stage berth in last season’s UEFA Champions League is Karim Adeyemi. The young German talent that netted 3 important goals in the UCL group stage ultimately supported his former club with wins over Lille and VFL Wolfsburg. His ability to score goals in vital moments can allow him the upper hand for his new club Borussia Dortmund.
Following the latest slub selling of Erling Haaland to Manchester City, Adeyemi will have all eyes on him for what attacking abilities he can bring to Borussia after last season's Champions League third spot finish in the group stages with Ajax and Sporting CP beating them to the knockout stages.
Mike Maignan - AC Milan
After arriving at Milan to replace former Milan keeper Gianluigi Donnarumma, Mike Maignan arrived on a high after having won a Ligue 1 title with his former club Lille. In the Ligue 1 winning season, the french keeper kept a spectacular 21 clean sheets in 38 games. Come to Italy and the dots seemed to be connecting for AC Milan as Maignan would become a key part of Milan's 19th Serie A title after not winning since 2011. By doing so, Maignan achieved the best Serie A goalkeeper of the 2021-22 campaign.
With such excellent numbers and his outstanding presence in goal, Maignan will surely be one of the most important players to watch in Group E.
Jules Koundé - FC Barcelona
One of the many signings for Barcelona in this summer transfer window is none other than 23-year-old centre-back Jules Koundé from Sevilla. The young defenseman from Paris can very well be the defensive key Barcelona has long been searching for in their squad. Koundé is known for his ability to quickly intercept balls and have good control of the ball with a cherry on top being agile and very fast.
All these attributes will have to come into play in the very interesting group C that FC Barcelona resides with along with Bayern Munich, Inter Milan and Viktoria Plzen. Koundé and his defending abilities will definitely be one to look forward to among group C.
Cyle Larin - Club Brugge
The all-time Canadian soccer goal scorer leader is Cyle Larin, his recent free transfer to the Belgian Champions Club Brugge places Larin’s scoring ability on a pedestal in the Champions league. His right-footed scoring ability has been one of the talks recently with his international football success with Team Canada after qualifying for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. In Canada's qualification spell of games, Larin proved to be a power forward in scoring important goals to achieve wins for Canada.
His presence and ability to convert quick passes in the box to goals will certainly be one to watch in group B as Club Brugge goes against Bayern Leverkusen, Atletico Madrid and FC Porto.
Those are just a few names that eyes should be set on as they have the skill, quality and potential in making it or breaking for their clubs and in making an impact and name for themselves in this season's Champions League tournament.