🔟 best surprise players of the season so far


Dan Burke

Article image: 🔟 best surprise players of the season so far

Football is constantly full of surprises and the season so far has been no exception.

Here are 10 players from Europe’s top five leagues who have been raising eyebrows in the early weeks of 2019/20.

1️⃣ Teemu Pukki (Norwich)

After underwhelming spells at Schalke and Celtic earlier in his career, few expected Pukki to be a hit in the Premier League this season.

Sure, the Finnish striker bagged 29 goals in the Championship last season, but could he transfer that kind of form to a higher level?

The answer, so far, as been yes. At the time of writing the 29-year-old has six goals in eight games and it looks like there are going to be plenty more where they came from in the coming months.

2️⃣ Amine Harit (Schalke)

“If you had asked me before the season how many goals I would score, I would have said four or five,” Harit told Sky Germany after Schalke’s 3-1 win over RB Leipzig at the end of September.

But the 22-year-old has already exceeded his own expectations by scoring four times in the first seven Bundesliga games of the new campaign. To add further context to that stat, he only managed one goal in 18 Bundesliga appearances last season.

The Moroccan international is thriving under David Wagner, and long may it continue.

3️⃣ Loren (Real Betis)

After reportedly turning down the chance to join Cardiff or West Bromwich Albion in the Championship over the summer, Loren has begun the season in scintillating fashion for Real Betis.

The 25-year-old currently has six goals and one assist from the first eight games of the season, which means he averages a goal every 85 minutes.

The decision to stay put in Spain was a good one, then.

4️⃣ Tammy Abraham (Chelsea)

One of the big questions hanging over Chelsea before the season began was where their goals were coming from.

Olivier Giroud has never been the most prolific of strikers and despite scoring 25 times for Aston Villa in the Championship last season, there were doubts about whether Abraham was ready to lead the line for a top Premier League team.

But the 21-year-old has so far confounded expectations and currently has eight goals in eight games – three of which came in a 5-2 win away at Wolves.

That works out at a goal every 72 minutes. Very impressive.

5️⃣ Domenico Berardi (Sassuolo)

The Sassuolo winger has five goals in Serie A this season, which is all the more impressive considering he missed the opening day through the suspension.

The 25-year-old bagged a hat-trick against Sampdoria before following it up with a brace against Roma, prompting links with some of Europe’s top clubs.

He only got 10 goals in all competitions in the entirety of last season and he’s already half way to that tally this year.

6️⃣ Wendell (Bayer Leverkusen)

It’s been a pretty solid start to the season for Peter Bosz’s Leverkusen.

The likes of Kai Havertz, Kevin Volland and Leon Bailey are always likely to grab the headlines, but it’s arguably Wendell who has quietly been the club’s best player so far this term.

The Brazilian full-back is solid defensively and gets forward well too, having already notched up two assists in seven Bundesliga appearances to date.

7️⃣ Gerard Moreno (Villarreal)

It’s been a sensational start to the season for Moreno.

The 27-year-old currently leads the LaLiga scoring chart with six goals from his first eight games which puts him firmly on course for the best scoring season of his career to date.

Moreno disappointed in his first season back at Villarreal after returning for a second spell in the summer of 2018 but he looks like a new player at the start of the new campaign and it will be interesting to see if he can keep his strike-rate up.

8️⃣ Habib Diallo (Metz)

Despite being the top scorer in Ligue 2 with last season, Metz striker Diallo missed out on a place in the Senegal squad for last summer’s Africa Cup of Nations.

But six goals in his first nine games of the new French top flight has given Aliou Cissé little choice but to call the 24-year-old up for the upcoming friendly with Brazil.

He’s only previously been capped once but this lad really could be one to watch.

9️⃣ Victor Osimhen (Lille)

Elsewhere in Ligue 1, another player who’s been tearing it up is Lille’s Nigerian striker Osimhen.

The 20-year-old joined the club from Charleroi in a deal worth €12m this summer and he wasted no time in delivering the goals, scoring six in his first seven appearances, making him the fastest Lille signing to reach that number in over 50 years.

His goals – as well as his two assists so far – means Christophe Gaultier’s side are yet to truly feel the impact of Nicolas Pépé’s summer departure.

🔟 Stefano Sensi (Inter)

While much of the analysis of Antonio Conte’s Inter revolution has focused on the likes of Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sánchez, it is in fact Sensi who has arguably been the club’s best player and one of the standouts in Serie A so far this term.

The 24-year-old midfielder currently has three goals and four assists since his summer move from Sassuolo.

He’s one of the first names on Conte’s team-sheet and could have a big say in the Nerazzurri’s quest for a first Scudetto since 2010.