As people look ahead to next year’s Champions League, there are four candidates that stand out as potential breakouts for the African representation in the next rendition of this storied league. One is Naby Keita, the Guinean national who was important in RasenBallsport Leipzig’s surprising second place finish in the Bundesliga, only behind German juggernaut Bayern Munich. Keita scored eight goals in 31 appearances with the team this season, including the game winner in his first game of the season against Borussia Dortmund. Keita, who is known for his dynamic play at midfield, is expected to help his team keep up with the stacked Champions League.
For Liverpool, Sadio Mane of Senegal is expected to continue improving after a nice 13-goal debut season with this club in the Premier League. The forward was notable for his electric play, while still showing excellent control of his body on the pitch, so he is a name to watch in next year’s Champions League. Another African from the Premier League who is expected to make waves is Victor Wanyama, currently on Tottenham Hotspur. The Kenyan is making a return to the Champions League, memorably scoring a goal for his then-club Celtic FC against Barcelona in November 2012. This year, he scored four goals in 36 appearances with Tottenham, and he will be expected to carry the team as one of the league’s best central midfielders.
Frank Acheampong out of Ghana has played for Belgian club Anderlecht since 2013, and yet is still only 23 years old. Because of his youth, he has been courted by Watford and Newcastle United from the Premier League, so it’s unclear if Acheampong will still be on Anderlecht’s roster by the time the Champions League begins. But if he stays, his play at the left flank will be a key determiner in how well they’ll be able to hang among the continent’s best.