With the transfer window in full swing, here's a look at 13 under-the-radar players who merit the attention of some of Europe's biggest clubs:
Like Brazilian full-backs and Italian defenders before them, Dutch center-backs are all the rage, and Bournemouth's Ake fits the profile of a technical player blessed with composure and versatility. With 112 EPL appearances under his belt, there's understandably reported interest from Tottenham and Manchester City. But after shipping Tyrone Mings to Aston Villa, the Cherries will be resistant to moving the 10-time capped international.
There's a fascination with angular French midfielders with tranquil technique like Watford's Doucoure - and for good reason. Doucoure's deceivingly graceful box-to-box rampages and penchant for hounding players in possession have placed him among the best players outside of the Premier League's top six for the last two seasons. There's been surprisingly little interest in Doucoure despite his admission he's "very open" to a move.
With 86 touches in the opposition box, the Dominican Republic-born Firpo was second behind only Jordi Alba (97) among La Liga defenders, earning a spot in Spain's successful Euro Under-21 side. A versatile player who can also hold his own on the wing, Firpo was linked with Real Madrid prior to Ferland Mendy's move and more recently with Liverpool, who may balk at Real Betis' €50-million release clause.
Amid a summer of squad turnover at Atletico Madrid, slick-dribbling Argentina right-winger Correa has become surplus to requirements, reportedly prompting Los Colchoneros' brass to propose including him in a swap for Tottenham's Kieran Trippier. Omitted from Lionel Scaloni's Copa America team, Correa managed 49 outings in all competitions for Atletico last year, and his time under notoriously demanding manager Diego Simeone should add to his intrigue.
More than five years since his Belgium debut as a much-hyped star-in-the-making, Sampdoria stud Praet's delayed, albeit gradual progression, is finally bearing fruits. Less a prototypical No. 10 than a tireless all-rounder, Praet's two-way play and vision in finding runners in the final third are massive assets. Comparisons to Aaron Ramsey are fair, perhaps explaining why he was once linked with a €25-million move to Juventus.
On the heels of a standout 2018-19 campaign at Udinese, De Paul featured in Argentina's Copa America squad. Though the highlight of his display in Brazil was getting tackled by a pigeon, the late bloomer does have the skill set of a big-club player. Cash-strapped Udinese will find it tough to deny advances for the crafty set-piece savant capable of playing anywhere across the front line or in a midfield playmaking role.
Cote d'Azur side Nice are certain to turn a substantial profit on Atal after plucking the previously unknown Algerian from his homeland in 2018. His debut campaign in Ligue 1 was stellar, with the AFCON participant playing anywhere on the right side in 29 league appearances. Blessed with blinding pace, Atal is a handful to mark; once he manages to consistently cross the ball, the coveted courier may be among football's best full-backs.
While many of the players on this list fly just under the radar, Toulouse midfielder Sangare is burrowing a path to his next footballing destination through the fertile soils of the Haute-Garonne region. The angular Ivorian international is the latest in a line of emerging youngsters bred at Toulouse (Serge Aurier, Issa Diop, Alban Lafont, etc.). Slyly technical, Sangare breaks up attacks from a deep-lying position before surging forward with a gazelle-like gait.
One of a countless number of promising young French defenders, Konate has been the pillar of RB Leipzig's backline, extolling the virtues of a measured tackler 10 years his senior. The France Under-21 regular fits the mold of a traditional central defender, and as his long-range passing skills grow, so too will the interest in the Paris-born Konate. He also won 122 aerial duels in the Bundesliga last year, fourth-best among all defenders.
Robust Brazilian forward Joelinton emerged last year at Hoffenheim, pairing seven goals with five assists in 25 Bundesliga starts following a two-year loan spell at Austria's Rapid Wien. A deft dribbler gifted with meticulous timing in link-up play and a bevy of goal-scoring methods, he's naturally drawn comparisons to former Hoffenheim attacker Roberto Firmino. The right-footer reportedly landed on Newcastle's radar in January. Good luck with that.
With Joao Felix bound for Atletico, transfer reports in the Portuguese capital are focusing on other Benfica talents, like central defender Dias. Dias started 32 league matches during the 2018-19 campaign and paired well with another hot commodity in 22-year-old Ferro. The 11-time Portugal international has heaps of energy and is an imposing figure in the penalty area. Manchester United seems the ideal destination.
Anybody in the market for a left-winger established for both club and country who's available on a free transfer? Well, Algerian international Brahimi is your man. Like fellow former Porto standout Hector Herrera, Brahimi is a sage and low-risk addition for a club light on width and cash, such as Arsenal. Also capable of dropping into a deeper midfield slot, Brahimi is gifted in possession and liable to make threatening interior runs off an incisive change of direction.
Ajax aren't the only Dutch side featuring young talent ripe for the picking. Case in point: PSV winger Bergwijn, whose blinding pace off the ball makes him a prime target for through balls. He's also able to create space with his dribbling, though he's more than just a Point A to Point B runner. An accomplished passer, Bergwijn split his 33 starts in the Eredivisie last season between the left and right flanks, recording 14 goals and a dozen assists.