The 2018/19 Champions League season kicks off this week, with four Premier League clubs – Liverpool, Tottenham, Manchester United and Manchester City all involved in the group stage.
It’s easy to say that Liverpool must watch out for deadly Paris Saint-Germain trio Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Edinson Cavani, or that Spurs must be wary of Inter’s Mauro Icardi, or City to take great care not to underestimate Nabil Fekir.
But what of other less talked about danger men the English sides need to keep an eye on:
8. Adrien Rabiot (PSG)
Out of contract with PSG at the end of the season and still to reach an agreement over an extension, Adrien Rabiot is effectively playing to put himself in the shop window this season and will get plenty of opportunities to impress in a tough group.
The French midfielder, who missed out on World Cup selection during the summer, is reportedly a target for Barcelona, Juventus, Tottenham and former club Manchester City. Liverpool have also been heavily linked and will get an up close look at him this week.
7. Christian Fassnacht (Young Boys)
Right-sided winger Christian Fassnacht only joined Young Boys last summer and immediately helped the team win a first Swiss Super League title since 1986 with a combined 19 goals and assists in 34 league outings for the club.
His return so far in 2018/19 is even more impressive after scoring four times and assisting once as Young Boys have started the new domestic season with a 100 winning record. Whoever starts at left-back for Manchester United cannot ignore the threat he brings.
6. Milan Skriniar (Inter)
Inter and Slovakia defender Milan Skriniar is touted as one of the next top European centre-backs and is tasked with keeping Harry Kane and Tottenham at bay in a tantalising Group B clash on Tuesday, Inter’s first Champions League game since 2012.
Skriniar was plucked from obscurity by Sampdoria in 2016 and joined Inter only 18 months later for €20m, while there are now estimations that he could be worth in excess of €50m in today’s market, such has been the 23-year-old’s meteoric rise.
5. Tanguy Ndombele (Lyon)
During their Ligue 1 dominance in the 2000s, Lyon went through a period of finding hidden gems and developing them into top class midfielders, including the likes of Michael Essien and Mahamadou Diarra. Summer signing Tanguy Ndombele could be the next one.
The 21-year-old arrived from Amiens in 2017 – initially on loan – and played in all but two Ligue 1 games last season. So far in 2018/19, Ndombele has barely missed a minute and will be hoping to help cause an upset as Lyon visit Manchester City.
4. Matteo Politano (Inter)
Italian winger Matteo Politano is enjoying a solid start to his Inter career after arriving on loan from Sassuolo during the summer. And, after two assists in Serie A so far this season, it will be his job to provide ammunition for striker Mauro Icardi.
25-year-old Politano, whose loan deal includes a €20m purchase option, actually started out at Roma. But it wasn’t until he joined Pescara in Serie B and later Sassuolo in the top flight that he was able to make good on his potential.
3. Guillaume Hoarau (Young Boys)
Veteran French striker Guillaume Hoarau is the chief goal threat for Swiss champions Young Boys, who take on Manchester United in Group H on Wednesday night, finishing last season as Swiss Super League top scorer as the Bern club ended Basel’s years of dominance.
Hoarau has retained his form, already finding the net four times in six domestic games so far and scoring a tie-winning away leg brace against perennial qualifiers Dinamo Zagreb to get Young Boys to this stage of the competition.
2. Memphis Depay (Lyon)
Memphis Depay has everything to prove after his ultimately disappointing stint at Manchester United, with facing Manchester City in the Champions League after just over 18 very productive months at Lyon the perfect opportunity to prove the doubters wrong.
Memphis was initially left on the bench for Lyon’s weekend clash against Caen, later emerging to provide a last ditch assist in the 2-2 draw. Having played just 20 minutes of that game, he should be fresh for the trip to Manchester.
1. Angel Di Maria (PSG)
With Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Edinson Cavani taking the majority of the headlines generated by PSG, the incredibly dangerous Angel Di Maria is inexplicably almost forgotten and will pose enormous danger to Liverpool at Anfield.
The ex-Manchester United winger had the most prolific season of his career in 2017/18 and has managed a goal or assist in every Ligue 1 games he’s played this campaign. That was after scoring a brace against Monaco in France’s equivalent to a Super Cup.