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Five Under the Radar Breakout Players in 2023-24

As each season passes, a new crop of younger players present themselves to fans across the top five leagues in Europe.

With names such as Lamine Yamal, Kenan Yildiz and Alejandro Garnacho seemingly always being discussed, selected are five players who have had a breakout season but remain slightly under the radar to regular football fanatics. 

1. Isaac Romero

At the age of 23, Romero is not as young as other names on this list but he has the confidence, ability and drive to just about match anybody. 

The wily striker was thrown in at the deep end in January to make his debut with Sevilla uncharacteristically stuck in another relegation battle. With an array of injuries to contend with, Quique Sanchez Flores gave Romero his blessing and has not looked back since.

A total of five goals and four assists has not just inflated Romero’s reputation but his good form has in tandem seen Sevilla safely remove themselves from the relegation battle.

With the trusty Youssef En-Nesyri also recently producing the final third goods, Sevilla suddenly have a striker partnership worthy of competing in Europe once again.

Sevilla’s new strike partnership. Credit: The Singleton Argus

Romero plays with a typical ferociousness seen in La Liga and uses his stocky frame to drive past players and get in front of defenders in the box when required. With an unerring ability to find the corner on one vs ones and an uncanny ability to poach from close in it must just be a matter of time before he is called up to the senior international setup.

2.Albert Gumdundsson

At 26-years-old, Gudmundsson is a sort of late bloomer in striker terms but this has not held him back in a stellar 2023/24 campaign. Quite simply without Gudmundsson, Genoa would be in a relegation battle, instead they are happily in midtable.

In the Italian game it has recently become more common for players in the attacking third to have more freedom and arguably nobody has as much freedom as the Icelandic second striker.

He lines up as the deepest striker in a 5-3-2 and likes to drop deep and dribble the ball up the pitch using neat combinations with teammates to bypass defenders with ease. 

As a quick glance at his highlights shows he is then not afraid to have a long shot, and how he has got that in his locker as his ten league goals and three assists shows. 

With Fiorentina being heavily linked with a move in January it should come as no surprise to see him playing in some sort of European competition next season. Gudmundsson has it all and at 26 is at the peak of his powers.

3. Justin Njimah

Surprisingly sitting in tenth place in the Bundesliga, Werder Bremen fans are having a season to remember. And so is forward Njinmah who since arriving at the club has become almost a cult hero with his inspiring runs forward and knack of impacting the game off the sidelines. 

Bremen are usually happy to sit back, soak up pressure and hit on the counter through the wing backs but with this form of football you need quick skillful players who can rapidly progress the ball. This is Njinmah’s calling.

Quick off the spot, Njinmah’s main responsibility is to get the ball into dangerous positions and he has been excellent at this with six goals and two assists so far this term portraying his importance. 

When he is not involved, Bremen look confused in the final third with Marvin Ducksch looking for his strike partner, who he can cause havoc with. With Germany struggling for any consistency in front of goal, maybe Njinmah could be a left field shout for a Euro 2024 callup.

4. Soungoutou Magassa

Moving to the defensive third now with Magassa who at the start of the season had a real impact on Monaco’s backline. With Adi Hutter preferring to lineup in a 5-2-3 at the start of the season, Magassa was responsible for the left centre back spot.

He not only took the role head on but excelled with his physicality allowing him to easily win the ball back multiple times each game, then finding the optimal forward pass to help Monaco get out of trouble.

Magassa celebrating a win for Monaco. Credit: Ligue 1 Uber eats

Also capable of playing in defensive midfield, this shows when Magassa decides it is time for him to bring the ball out up from the back himself. His bustling dribbles forward creating different avenues of attack for his teammates. 

With 16 games so far in Ligue 1, Magassa has enjoyed a wonderful breakout season at just 20-years-old. With injury forcing him to miss some games this term, it is hoped he can reclaim his place in the Monaco ranks for the back end of the season and fire Monaco to second place.

5. Murillo

Signed in the summer from Brazilian side Corinthians, fans of Nottingham Forest probably did not think that he would go onto be one of the Reds most important players in defence.

For £12 million Forest have got a player who has excellent positioning, impressive defensive instincts, is calm under pressure and who has the typical Brazilian ability of being technically efficient on the ball.

Without Murillo it is difficult to imagine Forest not being off in a worse position as he is the lynchpin that keeps the defence held together, even though he is only 21-years-old. With a total of 21 starts to his name, both Steve Cooper and Nuno Espirito Santo found him integral to the way they want to play.

As is a theme in this article, Forest are embroiled in a relegation battle but if they do manage to stay up then a large part of that will be down to Murillo, whose last ditch defending has surely won his side multiple points. However, for how long they can keep their star man will be remain to be seen with a host of Premier League clubs circling around the City Ground.

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