Young guns eager to make their mark
The VELUX EHF Champions League is the stage where the stars meet and so it should be the way in one of the most exclusive club handball tournaments. However, the men’s Champions League is also the place where new talents reveal themselves every year.
Let us take a look at - and rank - 10 young players who will be worth watching out for this season. Everyone reading will probably be able to put completely different lists together and agree or disagree with all, or some of my choices, but these rankings are based on personal taste and this is a bunch of lads of whom I am looking particularly forward to watching this coming season.
10. Lasse Andersson (FC Barcelona Lassa)
Having been awarded Rookie of the Year twice already, the 23-year-old Andersson has not gone unnoticed, of course. Still, we may have even bigger expectations of the versatile Danish back court player when he returns from injury, undoubtedly to an even more significant role in Barcelona than before.
9. Philip Henningsson (IFK Kristianstad)
The 22-year-old left back from IFK Kristianstad already gave samples of his impressive shooting abilities last season, and this season - a year older and more experienced - he will be even more crucial to the Swedish back-to-back champions’ hope of qualifying for the knockout rounds.
8. Andreas Holst Jensen (Aalborg Handbold)
A torn anterior cruciate ligament stole almost the entire last season from Denmark’s greatest back talent since Mikkel Hansen.
However, Jensen is back at full power now and after his transfer from GOG to Aalborg, he is a great asset in the Danish champions’ efforts to advance from the group phase.
7. Daniel Dujshebaev (RK Celje Pivovarna Lasko)
The name alone virtually forces one to take a closer look, and it seems obvious that the son of Talant and the younger brother of Alex will also bring it far – at first as a talented left back by RK Celje Pivovarna Lasko.
He has already shown enough to prove what a great handball family he comes from.
6. Simon Jeppsson (SG Flensburg-Handewitt)
An eyebrow or two were raised in the world of handball when SG Flensburg-Handewitt signed this young Swedish left back from Lugi HF ahead of this season.
However, Jeppsson has already proved to be a brilliant signing and will undoubtedly contribute to Flensburg’s not too deep squad this season already.
5. Jerry Tollbring (Rhein-Neckar Löwen)
Three Swedes in the Top 10? Well, those Swedes have a certain ability to develop talents, and even though Tollbring has mainly been brought in as substitute to Gudjon Valur Sigurdsson by Rhein-Neckar Löwen, there is no doubt that this young handball magician will get his chances in a long and tough season as the 38-year-old Sigurdsson will need a break every now and then.
4. Sander Sagosen (Paris Saint-Germain Handball)
Only 21-years-old and already a world star, so why on earth put him in only fourth position? Simply because of his uncertain role in PSG, with Nikola Karabatic and Mikkel Hansen playing “his” two positions so how much court time will coach Serdarusic give him?
Yet, if I were to make a ranking list of super subs, Sagosen would be undisputed number one.
3. Melvyn Richardson (Montpellier HB)
The only reason why the extremely-talented son of legendary Jackson Richardson only gets third position is the fact that playing for Group D team Montpellier HB, his skills will not be on display as much as they would have been had he played in Group A or B.
Still, the 20-year-old right back will play an essential part in Montpellier’s efforts to reach the knockout phase.
2. Blaz Janc (PGE Vive Kielce)
Having made people aware of himself on the international stage at the 2016 Rio Olympics, Blaz Janc went on showcasing his talents through 77 goals in the Champions League last season for Celje.
Now, he has joined a potential top team in Europe, PGE Vive Kielce, and that transfer is probably not going to harm him. On the contrary.
1. Dika Mem (FC Barcelona Lassa)
Already last season the young French right back started unfolding his enormous potential with FC Barcelona.
Having only just turned 20, he is undoubtedly going to give the handball world much, much more than he has already.
Moreover, his role with Barcelona will be even more crucial this season after Kiril Lazarov left for Nantes – even though Slovenian newcomer Jure Dolenec has done great so far.