We're officially done with the group stages of the UEFA Champions League. It has been an exhilarating round of games and the Champions League, true to its nature, has not failed to surprise us so far.
Quite a few big clubs have had their European dreams quashed in the group stages, while a few unfancied teams have progressed to the knockout rounds.
Teams like Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Sevilla, Juventus and Ajax have failed to claim a berth in the Round of 16.
Some of the usual suspects turned in special performances in Europe, while a few others failed to match expectations. Without further ado, let's take a look at the five best players from the UEFA Champions League group stages.
#5 Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)
Despite Liverpool's struggles in the Premier League, they've managed to do pretty well in the Champions League. The Merseysiders finished second in Group A, tied on points with group toppers Napoli. Mohamed Salah's goalscoring form was crucial to Liverpool cruising to the knockout stages.
Salah finished the group stage as its joint-top goalscorer with seven to his name, the same as Kylian Mbappe. He also scored the fastest hat-trick in the history of the Champions League, netting thrice in the span of six minutes against Rangers as Liverpool beat them 7-1.
Salah scored a goal each in the two group stage fixtures against Ajax as well as against Napoli in Liverpool's 2-0 win over the Partenopei at Anfield. He was Liverpool's most consistent performer in the group stages.
#4 Lionel Messi (Paris Saint-Germain)
Any doubts over whether Lionel Messi was starting to fade after hitting his mid 30s have now been settled. Messi has been in scintillating form for Paris Saint-Germain this season and has been creating and scoring goals just like he used to do in his prime.
Messi has been central to PSG's exploits in the UEFA Champions League group stages. He scored four goals and provided four assists in five appearances and was simply unstoppable.
The seven-time Ballon d'Or winner dribbled past opponents with characteristic ease, played incredible passes and found the back of the net in emphatic fashion. He was the complete package in the group stage.
#3 Fede Valverde (Real Madrid)
Fede Valverde has taken his game up a couple of notches this season and has arguably been Real Madrid's best player so far in the 2022-23 campaign. In his first 148 games for Los Blancos, Valverde managed to score just six goals. In 18 appearances so far this term, he has already netted eight times.
The Uruguay international can play in multiple positions and be equally effective from anywhere on the pitch. Valverde's ability to run with the ball, play line-breaking passes and the sheer composure he showcases in the final third makes him a dangerous player.
In five appearances in the group stages of the Champions League, Valverde scored two goals and provided two assists. But his contributions go way beyond those numbers.
He turned in exceptional performances against Celtic, RB Leipzig and Shakhtar Donetsk to ensure Real Madrid progressed to the knockout stages without much hassle.
#2 Khvicha Kvaratskhelia (Napoli)
21-year-old Napoli midfielder Khvicha Kvaratskhelia has been an absolute revelation this season. The Georgia international has taken Europe by storm with his incredible dribbling skills, burst of pace, technical and playmaking ability.
He has been Napoli's best player so far this season by quite some distance and has been nigh-on unstoppable in the UEFA Champions League. Kvaratskhelia, lovingly called 'Kvaradona' by fans, scored two goals and provided three assists in five Champions League appearances for the Partenopei.
He turned in brilliant performances against Liverpool, Ajax and Rangers and has been the X-factor for Napoli thus far.
#1 Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain)
Kylian Mbappe has been on fire for Paris Saint-Germain in the opening stages of the new season. After getting to a bit of a slow start by his own lofty standards, he looks well and truly in his element right now.
Mbappe has scored seven goals and provided three assists in six group stage appearances. He has now become the youngest player to score 40 goals in the Champions League (23 years, 317 days).
He was brilliant against Juventus in both group stage fixtures and also turned in exceptional performances against Benfica and Maccabi Haifa.