5 of this season's biggest breakout stars 

Messi has continued to lead from the front
Messi has continued to lead from the front

Across Europe, the 2018/2019 season has entered the crucial stages.

From the colorful and noisy atmosphere in the German Bundesliga to the smooth-flowing Spanish La Liga, teams have been busy trying to fulfill their pre-season promise. Some of the biggest names in world football have continued to play leading roles for their various club sides.

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have remained the leading lights for their club sides; FC Barcelona and Juventus. These two have re-defined football with their goalscoring exploits and deeds over the last 12 years and have continued to put up staggering numbers so far this season.

However, alongside the Eternal Duo has emerged some previously unheralded players. These men have grabbed their chance in the limelight with both hands and emerged as genuine talked-about talent.

Here is a look at 5 of this season’s best breakout stars;

#5 Vinicius Junior (Real Madrid)

Vinicius has been electric for Madrid
Vinicius has been electric for Madrid

The youngster was not supposed to play a leading role in the team this season. Officially becoming a Real Madrid player in August, the Brazilian was drafted to Castilla to ease him into the rigors of European football.

The departure of Cristiano Ronaldo to Juventus left a huge gap in the team’s attacking lineup. This was a gap that the likes of Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale, Marco, Asensio, and others struggled to fill.

The lack of verve and dynamism from the frontline meant that Vinicius was drafted into the senior side earlier than planned.

Blessed with searing pace and brilliant dribbling, his combinations with Benzema has been a delight to watch. He has displayed fearlessness in his decision making and playing style. This has allowed him to become the X-Factor in a team that can sometimes be too static and predictable.

4 goals and 2 assists in 21 senior games for Los Merengues do not tell the full story of the impact he has had

#4 João Félix (SL Benfica)

Felix's passing has become central for Benfica
Felix's passing has become central for Benfica

It is really hard these days to go wrong with a graduate from the famous academy of Benfica. The Portuguese giants have produced talents for Europe's giants by the bucketload in the last 3 decades making decent money off these processes.

In the last 3 years alone, the Águias (Eagles) have made over £230m selling youngsters like Bernardo Silva, Andre Gomes, Nelson Semedo, Renato Sanches, Viktor Lindelof amongst others.

The latest graduate to capture the world's attention, 19-year-old Félix has emerged in big style for the team. Only promoted to the senior side at the beginning of the season, the player who can play as a winger or advanced midfielder has been getting rave reviews.

The most exciting thing about Félix is his passing. Usually, a young player is expected to be very raw in his distribution, taking many risks in his developmental journey. However, that does not apply to the young Portuguese talent whose passing has been compared to the likes of legends like Luis Figo and Rio Costa.

The Lisbon giants are neck and neck with old foes; FC Porto for the Liga NOS title this season. The U-21 international has contributed greatly to that with 7 goals and 4 assists in just 13 matches.

#3 Nicolas Pépé (Lille OSC & Ivory Coast)

Pépé has arguably been the best player in Ligue 1 this season
Pépé has arguably been the best player in Ligue 1 this season

Much has been expected of the talented left winger since he came unto the scene for SCO Angers a couple of years ago. Slowly but surely, he has continued to mature and improve and currently looks a steal for Lille at just £10m.

Comparing anyone with Messi would be doing a great disservice to the other player. However, the 23-year-old has shown many Messi-like qualities already this season for Les Dogues (The Great Danes).

His participation in build-up play, passing, scoring and finishing have been on a higher level than many a senior winger across Europe this term. Playing on the right in Lille's 4-3-3 formation has helped Pépé make good use of his searing pace, quick feet, and amazing dribbling to constantly evade challenges.

Screamers, tap-ins, freekicks, penalties are just some of the goals he has gotten; 16 goals and 8 assists in 25 Ligue 1 games tell the story better.

#2 Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund)

Sancho has lit up the Bundesliga this season
Sancho has lit up the Bundesliga this season

Manchester City has one of the best line-up of wingers in European football. Pep Guardiola has at his disposal, the likes of Raheem Sterling, Leroy Sane, Bernardo Silva, and Riyadh Mahrez.

Yet, it is almost certain that he will be looking back with regret at not fighting harder to keep the English youngster. Such has been Sancho's phenomenal performances in the Black & Yellow of Borussia Dortmund that huge fees are already being mentioned.

A classic English winger; pace and trickery, the 18-year-old is proving to be more than that. Clever in his movement and decision making, Sancho has been pulling defences in the Bundesliga apart with his clever feet and quick thinking.

He has developed an excellent rapport with club captain, Marco Reus, and Spanish striker, Paco Alcacer. His amazing displays have pushed the club's former golden youngster; Christian Pulisic to a substitute's role.

Sancho has made 29 appearances in his first full season as a senior pro for Lucien Favre's side. He has already delivered 8 goals and 10 assists in this time.

#1 Krzysztof Piątek (AC Milan)

Piątek is the biggest breakout star in Europe this season
Piątek is the biggest breakout star in Europe this season

The Polish hitman was always going to be the headline act for this list of breakout stars. His impact in his first season at top-level European football has been brilliant. This had led to people forgetting that until July last year, Piatek was still plying his trade in the Polish Ekstraklasa with Cracovia Kraków.

Signed by Serie A side, Genoa for just €4.5m in July 2018, his adaptation to the nature of Italian football was as quick as it was impressive. Displaying the sort of deadly finishing one would normally associate with the world's truly elite strikers, the 23-year-old grabbed an amazing 19 goals in just 21 matches for I Rossoblù (The Red and Blues).

The decision by Gonzalo Higuain to cut his unhappy loan spell at AC Milan short and head to Chelsea left the Rossoneri with a huge hole in attack. Piatek was identified as the right man to fill this hole and a €35m deal was agreed.

Again, the Pole has taken to his second club in one season like a fish to water. Showing all the qualities he previously displayed at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris, Piatek has been a God-sent for the Milan side with 6 goals from 8 shots in 5 games.

Inevitably, he has been compared to Milan legend, Andriy Shevchenko and countryman, Robert Lewandowski. Based on what he has done this season, Piatek looks the real deal.

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