Ceballos, Kimpembe and the hidden gems in the 2017-18 Champions League

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With Tuesday September 12 marking the opening round of fixtures for the new Champions League campaign, Goal takes a look at a selection of hidden gems


DANI CEBALLOS - REAL MADRID


Dani Ceballos Spain U21

The Real Madrid midfielder's €15 million price tag led to some branding the 21-year-old as the signing of the summer in La Liga, but with Luka Modric, Toni Kroos and Casemiro ahead of Dani in the pecking order, first-team minutes were never promised to the midfielder upon his arrival from Betis. 

Mateo Kovacic, Isco and Marcos Llorente, too, are preferred by Zidane, leaving cup competition Dani's only real hope of forcing his way into the reckoning.  

Dani's involvement will almost certainly come down to his temperament, though his has everything in his artillery to shine on the highest of European stages - his outstanding performances for Spain during this summer's Euro Under-21 finals in Poland go some way to confirming that.  

Should Zidane present the young midfielder with an opportunity in this season's Champions League, expect to see driving runs from central positions, impossible agility and vision seldom found in a player of his age.

Ceballos 15/8 to score v APOEL


EMIL FORSBERG - RB LEIPZIG


Emil Forsberg RB Leipzig

One of the most creative outlets in Europe's top divisions, Forsberg's assist in RB Leipzig's recent 4-1 victory over Freiburg was his 20th in just 28 Bundesliga starts. 

The 25-year-old winger was touted with a transfer to a string of Europe's finest over the summer before stating his desire to honour the contract extension he signed with the perennial overachievers in February.

Wednesday's hosting of Monaco promises to be one of the most exhilarating meetings in the entire competition, such is the approach of both sides, and Forsberg's importance to his side's success cannot be understated. 


CHARLY MUSONDA - CHELSEA


FIFA 17's most promising youngsters | Charly Musonda

Musonda's time to prove his worth at Chelsea is now. Having signed for the club in 2012, the diminutive midfielder is only now being offered a genuine step into the Blues first team, with Antonio Conte dealing with a thin squad by leaning on hungry development squad players. 

With Chelsea competing in a group containing Azerbaijani outfit Qarabag, Musonda may be thrusted into an advanced midfield role as Conte rests a number of his squad.


JOAQUIN CORREA - SEVILLA


Joaquin Correa Sevilla Champions League

While the 23-year-old has gone some way to establishing himself in Europe with seasons at both Sampdoria in Serie A and Sevilla in La Liga, registering 25 league appearances in each of his two full seasons, the Argentina international is now expected to shine in the Champions League. 

With just 11 minutes to his name thus far this season, Correa's explosiveness on the left flank could pose Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool a major problem should he be included in Eduardo Berizzo's starting XI on Wednesday.


GABRIEL BARBOSA - BENFICA


Gabriel Barbosa Inter

The Brazil sensation has been handed a second chance in Europe following his failed move to Inter, joining Benfica on loan for the 2017-18 campaign. 

The 21-year-old's highlight reel from his Santos days will do little to convince those at San Siro the move will eventually work out. Still, much is expected from his time in Portugal and his performances in the Champions League in a group containing Manchester United, CSKA Moscow and Basel.


PRESNEL KIMPEMBE - PSG


Presnel Kimpembe PSG Nancy

Now established in the Paris Saint-Germain first team, on the back of a number of bit-part campaigns, the 22-year-old France U21 defender is in the most decisive season in his short career so far. 

Technically sound with an eye for a pass, Kimpembe's exquisite display during PSG's 4-0 victory over Barcelona in the competition last season earned him the headlines, with Bayern Munich, Celtic and Anderlecht to face this time round in the group stage.


RODRIGO BENTANCUR - JUVENTUS


Rodrigo Bentancur Uruguay U20

Former Boca star Bentancur is raring to take his chance in the Juventus midfield, having just 16 Serie A minutes under his belt to date. While comfortable in a number of midfield positions, the 20-year-old may step in to replace the injured Claudio Marchisio against Barcelona, partnering Miralem Pjanic in one of the two central spots, with Sami Khedira also sidelined. 

Much is expected from the Uruguay U20 star, and it's up to him to capitalise on his opportunity when it arises. 

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TOM ROGIC - CELTIC


Tom Rogic Celtic

The athletic midfielder's exceptional positional sense will be key to Celtic's success in the competition this season, with Bayern Munich, PSG and Anderlecht the Scottish champions' opposition this season. 

Rogic, 24, has proved his worth to Brendan Rodgers in an advanced role, mopping up attacking phases in and around opposition penalty areas. With a taste for the spectacular, the Socceroos star will need to be monitored closely in any attempt to stifle Celtic this season.

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