The UEFA Champions League is one of the most important tournaments for any European footballer to participate in. The most elite and competitive clubs compete for the championship, pitting several of the best players against each other. Many young players who are emerging from various European leagues aspire to play in the Champions League.
Several intriguing players have yet to appear in the Champions League.
Players that haven’t played in the Champions League owing to transfer sagas or contractual disputes. Some exceptional players have shown they can compete with the world’s best, but their present clubs aren’t in the Champions League. Here are the five most valuable 2021 players who have never competed in the Champions League:
Number 5: Richarlison
Everton’s European ambitions have suffered a significant setback in recent years. The club last competed in the Europa League in 2017-18, and the last time they competed in the Champions League was in 2005-06. Everton made a statement signing in 2019 when they signed Richarlison.
The Brazilian arrived at the age of 21 and became their second most expensive signing of all time for £35.3m. Richarlison has since established himself as a key figure for the Merseyside club, and the change in management has not jeopardized his playing time. The Brazil international can play all three positions in a front-three, and in 125 appearances for Everton, he has 44 goals and 11 assists.
Richarlison was rumored to be on his way to Real Madrid by Carlo Ancelotti in the summer, but the deal fell through. If a deal could have been reached, the striker would have had a chance to play in the Champions League. Everton made a promising start to their Premier League season under new manager Rafa Benitez, but they were unable to maintain their momentum.
The Toffees have lost their last three games, and a Champions League spot does not appear to be in their future plans. Richarlison’s current market value is £55 million.
In 2019, the Brazilian agreed to a contract extension with Everton that will keep him at the club until 2024. However, if a suitable offer with the opportunity to play in the Champions League arrives, Richarlison will almost certainly be on his way out.
Number 4: Bukayo Saka
Bukayo Saka, who is only 20 years old, has become the focal point at Arsenal, which is going through a transition period. Arsenal will not compete in Europe for the first time in 26 years. They lost their top-four status as well as their right to compete in the Champions League, with their most recent appearance coming in 2016-17.
Saka, who made his Europa League debut in 2018, has demonstrated with his performances that he is ready for the next step. On his 20th birthday in September, he cemented his place in Gareth Southgate’s England squad, winning man of the match against Andorra.
Arsenal spent the most money in the Premier League this summer. The Arsenal supporters will be hoping for a comeback in the Champions League. Saka, with a market value of £65 million, is the most expensive asset in Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal squad.
He has an excellent link-up game and has been praised for selflessly teeing up his teammates. Saka has frequently expressed his love for the club, implying that he will not leave for financial reasons. He has made 100 appearances for Arsenal, scoring 13 goals and assisting on 23 others.
However, there is no denying that he is a very talented player who deserves to play for a team that offers Champions League football. Arteta’s expectations are high, and he must ensure that Arsenal finishes in the top six in order to compete in the Europa League.
Number 3: Florian Wirtz
Another teenager has tested the waters of the Europa League and demonstrated that he is ready to join a Champions League squad. Florian Wirtz is one of the Bundesliga’s brightest stars right now.
Bayer Leverkusen trusted Wirtz to fill in for Kai Havertz at 17, which speaks volumes about his ability and potential. He became the youngest Leverkusen player to play in the Bundesliga at the age of 17 years and 15 days.
Wirtz may soon follow in Havertz’s footsteps in his pursuit of Champions League football. He has excellent ball control and distribution skills and can play as a box-to-box No.8 as well as an attacking No.10.
He has been decisive and productive in the final third this season, with four goals and six assists in nine Bundesliga games. Wirtz also has three goals in the Europa League.
Manchester City and Manchester United, both Champions League clubs, have been linked with Wirtz. Bayern Munich’s ability to entice him away cannot be ruled out. Hansi Flick gave the youngster his Germany debut and called him the “total package.” The midfielder is valued at £65 million, but it may take more to sign someone of his caliber.
Newcastle United is rumored to be willing to splash the cash to bring in Wirtz from Germany, with their new owners at the helm. It would be a great financial option for the 18-year-old, but it would not provide him with Champions League football.
Number 2: Mikel Oyarzabal
Spain is blessed with a plethora of young and promising talent emerging from their domestic setup and allowed to prove their worth to the national team. Mikel Oyarzabal, who played regularly for Luis Enrique’s side last year, is one such find.
The Real Sociedad player is worth £70 million and deserves to play in the Champions League. Oyarzabal has made a habit of rising to the occasion for both club and country. He scored the game-winning goal against bitter rivals Athletic Bilbao in the 2019-20 Copa del Rey final, giving Sociedad their first silverware in 34 years.
He also scored Spain’s lone goal in the Olympic final against Brazil in Tokyo. The Spaniard provided a creative spark from the flanks and demonstrated his class by setting up Ferran Torres twice in the Nations League semi-final against Italy.
Oyarzabal turned down a move to Manchester City, effectively saying goodbye to the chance to play in the Champions League. The 24-year-old will make his 250th appearance for Sociedad, scoring 70 goals and assisting on 46 since his debut in 2015.
Real Sociedad leads La Liga by one game over Sevilla and Real Madrid. Oyarzabal should look for a bigger club if he doesn’t make the Champions League.
Number 1: Declan Rice
After leading West Ham United to the Europa League this season, David Moyes has rediscovered his mojo. Declan Rice, the team’s young captain, has been instrumental in their promotion and has demonstrated that he is worthy of playing for a Champions League club.
Manchester United and Chelsea have both been linked with the English midfielder, who has stated that he wants to move. His £70 million market valuation has hindered teams interested in signing him and fulfilling his Champions League goals.
Rice is regarded as one of the best midfielders in the Premier League. At every opportunity, the 22-year-old has justified his captaincy. He has demonstrated his versatility by playing both as a holding midfielder and as a center-back. Rice has not missed a single minute of the Premier League this season. If West Ham fails to qualify for the Champions League, he will try to force a move away.
He’s also shown an adventurous side this year, having several run-ins with the deep. He has successfully incorporated a final product into his attacking game, contributing one goal and three assists.
Rice scored his first goal in the Europa League on his European debut. Moyes has praised his captain for being one of the best in Europe at his position. Rice’s desire to join a Champions League club seems reasonable.