UEFA Champions League: 5 best young players of Matchday 1

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The UEFA Champions League returned for the 2021/22 season with some nail-biting games. Manchester City beat RB Leipzig in a nine-goal thriller, Liverpool came from behind to defeat AC Milan 3-2, Manchester United was stunned by Young Boys, and champions Chelsea edged Zenit in a closely-fought encounter.

As is the case, some players stood out from the rest. We take a look at five such players – all below the age of 24 – who gave a good account of themselves on Matchday 1.

1. Karim Adeyemi (RB Salzburg)

  • Age: 19
  • Position: Striker
  • Nationality: Germany
  • Individual achievements: Gold medalist, Fritz Walter Medal U17 category 2019

Did you know? 

Having represented Germany at the U16, U17, and U21 levels, Karim Adeyemi made his senior debut for Die Mannschaft during the September international break and scored his first senior international goal! The sixth in 6-0 thrashing of Armenia and a sensational close-range finish at that.

RB Salzburg, in recent years, has developed a reputation for producing excellent center forwards. Erling Haaland passed through Salzburg on his way to becoming a world-renowned superstar. Patson Daka took over from Haaland and performed admirably, before sealing a move to Leicester City in the summer. Takumi Minamino was on the books of the Austrian side once upon a time, as was Hwang Hee-chan.

The baton has been passed down again this summer and is currently held by 19-year-old Adeyemi. The former Bayern Munich academy star was unplayable against Sevilla in Salzburg’s opening UEFA Champions League 2021/22 Group G game.

Adeyemi earned his team three penalties in the first half itself, only one of which was converted – the German himself missed one of those spot-kicks. While he was unable to add to his seven goals this season, his display provided Salzburg the opportunity to beat their opponents, which it did not take.

Why should Premier League clubs be interested?

Adeyemi looks to be next in line for a big move away from Salzburg. The German forward was the understudy to Daka last season, but the latter’s transfer to Leicester City has allowed him to step up and claim a regular spot for himself.

Seven goals from 11 matches so far this season – including six from seven in the league – give a good account of his ruthless finishing ability. Another example of the same was his well-taken finish against Armenia on what was his senior international debut.

The 19-year-old’s raw pace is frightening in itself but add to that his finishing ability and technical skillset, and you have a player worth taking a punt on – even this early in his career. No wonder, Liverpool and Barcelona are keen on him.

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