Top 5 Breakthrough Players in Each Major European League This Season
Each season, we see a number of players come from nowhere to astound us.
They may have been complete unknowns before the big kickoff or young stars just waiting for their chance to explode onto the scene.
Whatever the case may be, here is the top breakout star from each of Europe's top five domestic leagues—expect reborn oldies and fresh talent in spades.
Serie A—Stephan El Shaarawy, AC Milan
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Stephan El Shaarawy showed glimpses of his ability toward the end of last season and even that was enough to send Italian football aficionados into overdrive.
This season, he's taken on the mantle in Zlatan Ibrahimovic's absence and genuinely shone, scoring 14 goals from 21 league starts and 17 overall.
He's not being played as an out-and-out forward under Massimiliano Allegri, but as a wide forward coming in from the left—it's a Gareth Bale-esque position in a similarly quick, sweeping formation.
La Liga—Leo Baptistao, Rayo Vallecano
Leo Baptistao has been turning some heads this season and Atletico Madrid appear to have formulated a "tentative agreement" for the future transfer of this Brazilian delight (via InsideSpanishFootball.com).
He's already bagged six goals and five assists, but it's not just the direct input that makes him so valuable to Rayo Vallecano. Despite being just 20 years of age, he inspires the teammates around him and makes them play better.
The Vallecanos are a lofty sixth-place in La Liga right now.
Premier League—Christian Benteke, Aston Villa
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There have been several English Premier League surprises this season, but in terms of "coming from nowhere," Christian Benteke takes the plaudits.
Having splashed £7 million to secure him from Genk, Paul Lambert was under some pretty substantial pressure to get the best out of him early.
He did so, and his debut goal against Swansea City set the tone for a hero's appreciation from the fans. His thunderbolt against West Brom on Saturday is just the latest in a growing list of amazing goals.
Ligue 1—Dario Cvitanich, OGC Nice
Cvitanich with former club Boca Juniors
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If you haven't noticed, OGC Nice have crept up to fourth position in Ligue 1 and that's largely down to Dario Cvitanich's prolific nature in front of goal.
The 28-year-old drifted aimlessly through his time at Ajax after moving from Banfield. After several loan spells, he landed in France last summer.
It's turned out to be a rather astute acquisition by Claude Puel. After scoring 12 goals in 18 matches, there's no reason to think he's slowing down.
Bundesliga—Sebastian Rode, Eintracht Frankfurt
Few teams have stood out like Eintracht Frankfurt this season.
Their return to the Bundesliga has been conducted in wonderful fashion by Armin Veh, leading his troops to fourth place to sit just three points behind Borussia Dortmund.
Out of all the stars—including Bastian Oczipka and Alexander Meier—Sebastian Rode shines the brightest.
Just 22 years of age, one half-season in Germany's top tier was enough for Bayern Munich to express their interest in him (via ESPN.com), while Dortmund themselves may look to him as a long-term replacement for Sebastian Kehl (via Kicker.de).