One of the most exciting feelings football can provide is when it dawns on you that you're watching a new, rising, bona fide star.
You got it when Cristiano Ronaldo scored from really far out at the Dragao in 2009; you got it when Kylian Mbappe stole in behind Manchester City's defence and netted in 2017; and you probably got it as Frenkie de Jong danced around Luka Modric at the Bernabeu earlier this year.
Each Champions League campaign brings a host of new potential stars, all looking to strut their stuff on the biggest stage in club football. 2019-20 will absolutely be no different.
Here, B/R Football Ranks the top 10 breakout star candidates for this season's Champions League, due to kick off this Tuesday.
Remember these names, seek out their teams and keep an eye on their development. They could easily be the next Ronaldo, Mbappe or De Jong.
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10. Nordi Mukiele, 21, Right-Back/Centre-Back
You'd be forgiven for thinking of Dayot Upamecano or Ibrahima Konate if the subject turned to promising RB Leipzig defenders, but the list doesn't stop with those two.
Flying even further under the radar is Nordi Mukiele, a dynamic right-back turned centre-back under manager Julian Nagelsmann—one who is playing on the right of a back three for the first time in his career.
The immediate comparison that springs to mind is Cesar Azpilicueta, who made the same conversion under Antonio Conte at Chelsea, but Mukiele is much more of a marauder and is quicker to step forward and intercept higher up.
He reads well, recovers well, can sprint past you in a flash and has the height (a shade over 6'0") to cope defensively in the air.
9. Tomas Soucek, 24, Defensive Midfield
Slavia drew a very short straw when the groups were decided in Nyon. Barcelona, Borussia Dortmund and Inter Milan? Yikes.
It makes it nearly impossible for them to progress but does give their players a chance to impress six times against some of the best teams in the world.
Naturally, their defensive-minded performers will come under the most pressure during these games. If you spot a massive, 6'4" destructor causing havoc in the middle, his name is Tomas Soucek, and he's very good.
Many are baffled as to why he remains in the Czech league. He's more than ready to perform at a higher level, and he combines the physical and technical traits so many love.
Watch out for him at set pieces, too. He's a real menace when the ball is in the air.
8. Dani Olmo, 21, Winger/Attacking Midfielder
After starring for Spain at the UEFA European Under-21 Championship this summer, Dani Olmo expected to leave Dinamo Zagreb—and wasn't happy about the fact that a move failed to materialise.
He told Sportske Novosti (h/t Marca): "I have nothing to hide: I wanted to leave Dinamo, I wanted to move on and join a strong club in the five big leagues."
His mindset does seem to be in the right place, though. In the interview, he asserted he will give "absolutely everything in each game" from here.
No doubt a 2020 move will be at the forefront of his mind, and he's got six Champions League group-stage games to show suitors why they were wrong not to pull the trigger on him in the summer.
If the Under-21 Championship version of him shows up—the one who rinsed full-backs and ducked in towards goal with menace—he may not have to wait long.
7. Stefano Sensi, 24, Midfielder
Like Soucek, Stefano Sensi is a little older than your typical breakout candidate—but then, some breakouts come later than others.
He's been a shining light in Inter Milan's perfect start to the Serie A season and, despite heavy investment in some big names this summer, has given early indications that he might be the best piece of business the Nerazzurri did.
A diminutive, stylish central midfielder, he's a wonderful watch with the ball at his feet, possessing wonderful passing range and shifty dribbling ability.
His performances are often defined by his smart decisions under pressure and clipped passes into a forward's path—though he seems to have found a new lease of goalscoring life in Milan, already on two league goals in just three games.
It's taken a little longer than usual for Sensi to find himself in this position, but he's ready to flourish on the biggest stage.
6. Dominik Szoboszlai, 18, Midfielder
There are certain players out there, rare players, who have a truly spellbinding technique when they strike the ball. Dominik Szoboszlai is one of them.
It doesn't matter where he picks the ball up on the pitch. He needs just a second to look up and pick out a run, executing surgical, precise passes that curve and whip their way around defenders.
He employs a similar striking technique on set pieces, quickly carving himself out as Salzburg's go-to guy from dead-ball situations. He's also assumed the mantle for his national side, Hungary, this month, netting his first from 20 yards.
Szoboszlai can pick up some steam while carrying the ball, too, using an imposing 6'1" frame to his advantage, but he'd much rather beat you with his brain, not his brawn.
5. Lisandro Martinez, 21, Centre-Back
Lisandro Martinez featured in our list of players whose value is set to explode this season, and part of the reasoning is that he has the Champions League stage to prove and improve his value on.
He was bought as a centre-back, but Ajax have already trialled him in defensive midfield roles. Perhaps that's down to his height (5'10"), but it could also be a nod to his remarkable acceleration and snappiness, traits that allow him to disrupt so well higher up.
He's already made 10 first-team appearances for Ajax this season, asserting himself as a player Erik ten Hag is willing to hang his hat on in the post-Matthijs de Ligt and Frenkie de Jong era.
Watch him spot what's going to happen and zip forward to stymie it before anyone even knows he's there.
4. Florentino Luis, 20, Central Midfielder
Florentino broke into the Benfica first team midway through last season, so this represents his first full campaign at the top level. Trust us, he's going to take it by storm.
He's a snappy, aggressive, athletic midfielder who covers a near-unfathomable amount of ground and dominates in duels. The numbers he's posting in the Primeira Liga—3.5 tackles and 4.3 interceptions per game—are sky-high, painting a clear picture of just how busy he gets.
Benfica's 4-4-2 formation encourages the wide men to underlap and fill the middle as the full-backs push beyond to hold the width. It means someone has to anchor the centre, anticipate, intercept and help trap opponents in. Florentino does the work of two men here.
He won't wow you with spectacular, long-range passes very often, and he troubles opposing goalkeepers rarely. But the nuts and bolts stuff in the centre, required to dominate territory and flow? There are few better.
3. Erling Haaland, 19, Striker
Arguably the brightest, most exciting young striking prospect in Europe right now is Erling Haaland, son of former Leeds United man Alf-Inge.
To say he cuts an imposing figure might well be underselling it. His monstrous, thick 6'4" frame has bullied defences this year, be it at the FIFA Under-20 World Cup or in the Austrian Bundesliga.
It was at the World Cup where he truly began to make waves, setting a record for most goals in one game with nine—yes, nine—against Honduras. He's carried on in that vein of form this term, netting his second hat-trick of the season at the weekend, putting him on 11 goals for the campaign...in mid-September.
He's big, brutish, direct, finishes well (obviously) and favours his left foot. How all of this translates to a much higher level will be extremely interesting, with Salzburg set to take on good defensive lines in Liverpool, Napoli and Genk.
2. Sergino Dest, 18, Right-Back
It’s been a whirlwind few months for Dest.
Some starring performances for the USA at the Under-20 World Cup in June led to a first-team Ajax role for this term, a Champions League bow (in the qualifiers), an international debut and a shiny new contract.
Now he's primed to take on the group stage.
Blisteringly fast, as direct as they come and capable of knitting intricate attacks together, Dest will be a terror to whoever comes into contact with him.
The draw lumped Ajax into a group with Chelsea, Lille and Valencia, none of whom have particularly strong defensive left-siders. There's fun to be had for Dest.
1. Ansu Fati, 16, Attacking Midfielder
There was a clear trend to Barcelona's summer transfer work: In recruiting players like Antoine Griezmann and Frenkie de Jong, they were attempting to make themselves less reliant on superstar Lionel Messi.
The first four games gave an immediate opportunity to show how successful this plan was, as the Argentinian's calf prevented him from taking part. Griezmann has undoubtedly impressed, while De Jong stuttered a little to begin with but found himself on Saturday against Valencia. However, another name has made Barca fans forget all about Messi—temporarily, anyway.
Ansu Fati, 16-year-old La Masia product, has taken the Camp Nou by storm.
He had a goal and an assist to his name by the seventh minute against Valencia and netted in the previous match with Osasuna too. A clever mover and a confident finisher, Fati already seems to be on the same wavelength as Barca's established stars.
For those wondering about his playing time once Messi returns, there's an argument Fati has jumped ahead of Ousmane Dembele in the pecking order (at least for now) and will continue to be given chances to impress.
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All statistics via WhoScored.com.