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A look at how our 10 breakout candidates are going at the season’s 3 month mark


EPL breakout players, premier league

On the dawn of the new Premier League season, we identified some EPL breakout players set to take the season by storm. Let’s see how it’s going.

We’re settling into another Premier League, as both fresh and familiar faces find new homes and, ideally, new fortunes.

Every summer between Premier League seasons brims with exciting change, as the English weather warms and transfer excitement builds. The start to this campaign was no different.

Several high-profile stars traded environments in hopes of fresh pastures or career revivals.

Youri Tielemans swapped relegated Leicester City for the surging Aston Villa. Liverpool’s midfield has been significantly bolstered. Nicholas Jackson and Christopher Nkunku are searching for Chelsea’s missing goals.

As is always the case, the 2023-24 Premier League season is littered with players bracing for career-best campaigns.

So here are the 10 EPL breakout players we settled on, heading into the new season, and an update on how those calls are tracking.

See how much crossover there is between EPL breakout players and the must-owns in fantasy.

EPL breakout players for 2023-24 season

Cody Gakpo, Liverpool

Following a strong World Cup campaign last December, the Dutch attacker linked up with Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool. Operating predominantly as a false-nine, Gakpo had a strong start to Premier League life, scoring nine times and providing 12 assists. This year, in a Liverpool side which seems more sure of itself than the one he walked into, he could become the Mane replacement Liverpool desperately need.

How its looking:

Liverpool have been impressive to begin the season, but Gakpo’s form has faltered. Unless their name is Mohamed Salah, no other Liverpool attacker is a guaranteed weekly start. The Dutchman’s two goals in 10 matches attest to this.

Kai Havertz, Arsenal

I know what you’re thinking, he’s been around for years – how can he be a potential breakout star? Over the German’s 91 Premier League games he has often been miscast as a striker. At Arsenal, he’s promised a spot in his preferred midfield role where his fortunes look set to change.

How its looking:

The German’s frustratingly inconsistent Chelsea form has continued in north London, but an important goal against Brentford might get things going. Before that, he only had one goal and one assist in 12 games and has hardly looked like adding to that tally, despite reprising his preferred midfield role.

EPL breakout players, Kai Havertz, 2023 Premier League
Kai Havertz has begun at Arsenal where he left off at Chelsea | EPL breakout players

Evan Ferguson, Brighton

I know what you’re thinking – wasn’t last season the Irishman’s breakout year? In some respect, yes. He rose into the most promising striker in the Premier League, scoring six goals in 949 minutes. At the end of the 2023/24 campaign he will have graduated into one of England’s best strikers.

How its looking:

Four games into the campaign he became the fourth 18-year-old to score a Premier League hat-trick. Ferguson’s season has been respectable, scoring six times in 12 games at a nice clip. Several annoying injuries, though, have limited the Irishman’s chance of finding consistency.

evan ferguson, brighton, premier league

Facundo Buonanotte, Brighton

Is there a better European environment for Argentine attacking midfielders than Brighton? It worked for Alexis Mac Allister, who departs for Liverpool with a World Cup winners medal around his neck. Undoubtedly, it will work for Buonanotte. The 18-year-old has large shoes to fill but with Roberto De Zerbi’s guidance the sky’s the limit. 

How its looking:

The season is only young and yet this might be the worst prediction of the lot. The young Argentine had played just four Premier League games for a total of 228 minutes across the first 12 weeks. Only time will tell if his assist for Simon Adingra against Sheffield United is the start of a fruitful campaign.

Dango Ouattara, Bournemouth

Signed with loads of promise from French side Lorient in January, the Burkina Faso winger has failed to emulate his Ligue 1 form on the British south coast. His one goal and three assists in 19 Premier League games pale in comparison to the six goals and five assists he nabbed in one less game for Lorient. Wingers thrive under Andoni Iraola and we could see the 21-year-old blossom into one of England’s best young attackers this season.

How its looking:

In some ways, Ouattara’s disappointing form is symptomatic of Bournemouth’s wider struggles. The winger has started two games and is yet to register a single goal contribution. He will need a big back half of the season to breakout.

Mykhailo Mudryk, Chelsea

Much like Chelsea’s Madueke -just below – the Ukrainian was signed mid-season and thrust into the thick of Chelsea’s worst campaign in a generation. His massive price tag didn’t help temper fans’ expectations, but there was a reason Mudryk was the most wanted footballer in the January window. The wily, swift winger only mustered two assists last season, granted he played the equivalent of seven full matches. It’s hard to envision him not improving under Poch.

How its looking:

Raheem Sterling’s good form has limited the Ukrainian’s minutes. Still, for his price tag, his two-goal return in 10 matches is underwhelming. That’s not to say he hasn’t shown glimpses of promise, but he will need to string together a consistent run of performances to hush his doubters.

Noni Madueke, Chelsea

Nabbed from PSV last January and thrown into a disorganised side on an uncontrollable downward trajectory, the winger showed glimpses of his class in the last half of the season. Under Mauricio Pochettino and fresh from a stellar Under-21 Euro’s campaign, his class could be a consistent feature this season.

How its looking:

The former PSV winger’s season has been plagued by injury. When Noni Madueke has been fit and available, he’s contended with Cole Palmer’s electric, undroppable form.

Madueke image
Noni Madueke has fallen down the Chelsea pecking order | EPL breakout players

Iliman Ndiaye, Sheffield United

We had to include one of the promoted boys. Iliman Ndiaye was paramount to Sheffield United’s Premier League promotion, putting the ball in the back of the net 14 times and assisting teammates a further 10. A brilliant dribbler, if Sheffield United are to have any chance of survival they need their Senegalese attacker to have a career year.

How its looking:

At the start of August, the Senegalese attacker traded Sheffield for Marseille in a deal costing the French side £20 million. He has not kicked a ball in the Premier League yet this season, unfortunately.

Bryan Mbeumo, Brentford

Ivan Toney won’t kick a professional football until January. In his absence, Cameroonian Meuemo is likely to operate as Brentford’s primary attacker, a role he assumed in the final three games of last season. In those trio of outings, Mbeumo scored three times and assisted twice. Those figures will be even more impressive if they’re stretched over a full campaign.

How its looking:

Finally, we have a proper breakout star! Filling Ivan Toney’s large, vacant shoes, the Cameroonian has six goals and two assists in 12 starts, all while looking lively at the tip of Brentford’s attack.

EPL breakout players, bryan mbeumo
Brentford’s Bryan Mbeumo | EPL breakout players

Dejan Kulusevski, Tottenham

​​We’ve seen hints of what the Swede is capable of during his short Spurs career. Across 18 games during the 2021/22 Premier League season – his first taste of English football – he grabbed five goals and eight assists. Last year, his returns were slightly less as his performances dipped in line with Tottenham’s. It remains to be seen whether he will play as a right-winger or free-roaming midfielder under Ange Postecoglou. He has the capacity to do both. But what isn’t doubted is the talent he possesses and the Australian’s ability to extract every bit of it. 

How its looking:

Inconsistently brilliant is the best way to describe the Swede’s season so far. Spurs are flying high and Kulusevski’s talent has been on show. Despite his three goals, frustrations remain about his wasteful final product. Should he iron these issues out, the sky is the limit.

Josko Gvardiol – Manchester City

$100 million Euros is a lot for any footballer, let alone any defender. For Manchester City, it may prove a bargain for Josko Gvardiol when all is said and done. During last year’s World Cup, he established himself as one of Europe’s finest young defenders. Pep Guardiola may just morph the young Croatian into the standout centre-half of his generation.

How its looking:

The young Croatian has largely lived up to the promise he was signed with. He’s seamlessly plugged into the hybrid left-side defender role in Guardiola’s hybrid line-up, forming a pivotal partnership with either Jeremy Doku or Jack Grealish ahead of him. He looks to be every bit the assured and confident defender that has turned out for RB Leipzig and Croatia for the last few years.

Picture of Kyle Robbins
Kyle Robbins
Kyle is a senior sports writer and producer at Only Sports who lives and breathes sport, with a particular burning passion for everything soccer, rugby league, and cricket. You’ll most commonly find him getting overly hopeful about the Bulldogs and Chelsea’s prospects. Find Kyle on LinkedIn.

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