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Six breakout stars from the 2023-24 European season

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Each season we see new stars emerge across Europe’s top five league and the 2023-24 campaign was no different.

From unearthed gems in the transfer market to young talent being given a first-team chance, we’ve profiled six stars who made their mark on the season.

Cole Palmer (Chelsea)

Cole Palmer took the decision to leave arguably club football’s best side and manager last summer, deciding first-team football was more important than hoovering up trophies on the fringes of the Manchester City squad.

Palmer had a taste of a prominent role in success after helping England’s u-21 side to European Championship in the summer and signed for Chelsea in search of opportunities. The transfer – and £42.5m fee – saw eyebrows raised given Palmer’s inexperience but the forward has exceeded all expectations at Stamford Bridge.

Cole Palmer’s four goals against Everton 😮‍💨 pic.twitter.com/oM5fc7hSxa

— Premier League (@premierleague) April 18, 2024

The shining light of a struggling side, he ended the campaign with more Premier League goal involvements than any other player, after scoring 22 times and providing 11 assists. More than the numbers, Palmer’s swagger and skill has illuminated West London, and his performances earned him the Premier League Young Player of the Season and
PFA Fans’ Player of the Year awards.

Just how did Manchester City let him go?

Serhou Guirassy (Stuttgart)

Serhou Guirassy’s record-breaking start to the season propelled Stuttgart’s transformation from relegation candidates to Champions League qualifiers.

Stuttgart had survived the drop in the relegation play-off last season but hit the ground running in 2023-24 thanks to Guirassy’s goals. The 28-year-old scored 13 times in the first seven fixtures, breaking Robert Lewandowski’s Bundesliga record (11).

Most non-penalty goals scored per 90 in Europe’s top five leagues this season (1000+ mins):

◉ 0.98 – Serhou Guirassy
◎ 0.98 – Harry Kane
◎ 0.88 – Kylian Mbappé

Borussia Dortmund are pushing to sign the VfB Stuttgart striker this summer, reports @FabrizioRomano. 🔥 pic.twitter.com/AXmWpw0nKj

— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) May 24, 2024

The Guinea international continued firing all campaign to end the season with 28 league goals, second only to Harry Kane in Germany’s top flight. With a reported release clause of €17.5m (£15m) in his contract, it would be a huge shock if he was still at the MHPArena next season.

Artem Dovbyk (Girona)

Girona broke their modest transfer record to sign Artem Dovbyk last summer, agreeing a €7m deal to bring in the Dnipro forward. A prolific record in Ukraine had attracted interest from the Catalan club, whose judgement was proven right.

Dovbyk has been devastating in his debut season in La Liga, scoring 21 league goals to fire Girona to a shock Champions League qualification. He trails only Villarreal’s Alexander Sorloth in the race for the Pichichi Trophy, has provided seven assists, and tops the league for xG, xG/90 and non-penalty xG this season.

🚨🇺🇦 Understand Girona striker Artem Dovbyk has release clause into his current contract and it’s worth €40m.

Any club keen on signing Dovbyk has to pay €40m as Girona are NOT intentioned to negotiate on the price.

❗️ The clause is already valid for this summer. pic.twitter.com/3qI00v450g

— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) May 15, 2024

Girona’s campaign has been full of exciting emergences with Savio – set to sign for Manchester City in the summer – and Miguel Gutierrez unfortunate to miss out here, but Dovbyk’s effortless adaptation to one of world football’s biggest leagues has been remarkable.

Leny Yoro (Lille)

European football’s biggest clubs are set to battle it out for Leny Yoro, who has turned the heads of recruiters with his performances at Lille. The 18-year-old has appeared in 44 games across all competitions as Lille finished fourth in Ligue 1 and secured Champions League football.

His maturity in possession has seen Yoro post the fourth-best pass accuracy in France this season (92.1%) and earn inclusion in the Ligue 1 Team of the Season. A youth international with France, he is expected to feature as the French host the Olympic games this summer.

🇫🇷 Leny Yoro (18) is the only U23 centre-back in the top 7 leagues to rank in the 90+ percentile for aerial win rate and forward pass completion

👉 https://t.co/7n2Xs93M9Q pic.twitter.com/rvHi4Xm3Ia

— DataMB (@DataMB_) May 23, 2024

Riccardo Calafiori (Bologna)

Riccardo Calafiori has taken an unorthodox route to the top of Serie A. The defender was regarded as a bright talent at Roma but a serious knee issue stalled his progress, with the defender making just 10 appearances before a transfer to Basel.

An impressive season in Switzerland saw Bologna bring Calafiori back to Italy and after moving from full-back into a central role, he has been outstanding. The 22-year-old ranks fourth for interceptions and eighth for percentage of aerial duels won, while offering accomplished distribution from deep in Thiago Motta’s side.

Calafiori and his nerves of steel with that beautiful chip 😁#BolognaJuve pic.twitter.com/sFUQK38JKt

— Lega Serie A (@SerieA_EN) May 22, 2024

Bologna will compete in the Champions League for the first time next season, while Calafiori has broken into the Italy side as the holders travel to the European Championship this summer.

Victor Boniface (Bayer Leverkusen)

Victor Boniface hit the ground running at Bayer Leverkusen this season as the forward won the Bundesliga’s Rookie of the Month for August, September, October and November.

The Nigeria international scored seven goals and provided five assists in his first 12 appearances for the German side, after signing from Belgian side Union Saint-Gilloise in the summer.

Still can’t believe this pic.twitter.com/TB0vR1jiOa

— Victor Boniface (@boniface_jrn) May 19, 2024

Despite a muscular issue that ruled Boniface out for three months, he ended the campaign with 14 goals and eight assists from 18 league starts for Leverkusen, a crucial contribution to the club’s first-ever Bundesliga title, won without losing a game.

Read – Our Team of the Season for Europe’s top leagues in 2023-24

See more – Four players who could succeed Toni Kroos at Real Madrid following shock retirement

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