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Being old isn't enough. Like red wine, cheese and Felicity Kendal, here are ten players who got better with age. The message is clear - being Italian helps...
10. Mohamed Salah - Basel
Salah made a big impression for Basel last season following his move from Egyptian club Al Mokawloon Al Arab, helping his new club win the Swiss Super League and scoring against Spurs and Chelsea in the latter stages of the Europa League. The pacy 21-year-old has also impressed for Egypt since his first call-up in 2011 and is the current top scorer in CAF World Cup qualifying with six strikes so far. Only a tough pla-yoff test against Ghana stands between Egypt and their first World Cup since 1990 and both the Pharaohs and Basel will be relying on Salah to provide goals and inspirational performances in the coming months.
9. Antoine Griezmann - Real Sociedad
Griezmann was instrumental in Real Sociedad's fight-back to draw 3-3 with Real Madrid in the penultimate game of last season and then grabbed the winning goal against Deportivo on a tense final day that saw La Real sneak fourth place in La Liga ahead of Valencia. The France Under-21 international wasn't finished there, however, and produced this superb acrobatic finish against Lyon in the Champions League qualifier to set up a 4-0 aggregate victory. The last time Manchester United faced a Basque club in Europe they were given a sound hiding, and David Moyes will be wary of Griezmann and teammate Carlos Vela as he looks to avoid a repeat.
8. Julian Draxler - Schalke
Although Schalke's wunderkind only signed a new five-year contract in the summer, there was strong speculation towards the end of the transfer window that Arsenal might test the Bundesliga club's resolve. Apparently Arsene Wenger baulked at Schalke's £60million asking price, however, and Draxler remains in Gelsenkirchen to spearhead the club's Champions League campaign. The 19-year-old has already clocked up over 100 appearances for Schalke, scoring 15 goals, and, along with Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and new signing Kevin-Prince Boateng, he will pose the biggest threat to a Chelsea side yet to find their rhythm.
7. Gonzalo Higuain - Napoli
pathetic strange that Arsenal fans decided to boo Higuain at the Emirates Cup in the summer - given that he would probably have joined the Gunners had they met Real Madrid's asking price - and the jeers may increase the striker's desire to impress when Napoli visit the Emirates on October 1. The Argentine, who is the most expensive incoming transfer to Serie A for over a decade, has scored twice in his first three games for Napoli as Rafa Benitez's team surged into top spot. Higuain proved his quality with 118 goals in six full seasons at Real Madrid and Arsenal's defence will need to be on their toes to deny the 25-year-old the chances he craves.
6. Steffan Kiessling - Bayer Leverkusen
Although Kiessling's international career failed to take off owing to the considerable shadow cast by Miroslav Klose, the 29-year-old has led the line for Leverkusen for the best part of a decade. Following an injury-blighted 2010/11 campaign, Kiessling returned with 17 goals in 2011/12 and ended last season as the Bundesliga's top scorer with 25 strikes in 34 matches. The striker has maintained his rich vein of form with six goals and four assists in his first six appearances this year and Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand will have their hands full when the powerful 6'3" frontman visits Old Trafford on Tuesday.
5. Carlos Vela - Real Sociedad
You might remember Vela as the young whippersnapper who was fond of a delicate chip during his formative years at Arsenal and little has changed following the forward's move to Real Sociedad. Despite failing to fulfil his potential at the Emirates, Vela has excelled in his two years in Spain and poses a significant threat to Manchester United in Group A. The 24-year-old has scored 28 goals and claimed 17 assists during his spell at La Real and was the club's top scorer last season as they clinched a return to the Champions League. It's no wonder Arsenal reportedly inserted a buy-back clause into Vela's contract when they sold him in 2011.
4. Keisuke Honda - CSKA Moscow
It's a surprise that Honda remained at CSKA Moscow over the summer after he was strongly linked with a move to AC Milan. The forward has denied reports that he has struck an agreement with the Rossoneri and is looking to put himself in the shop window as he enters the final six months of his contract. "Milan? They are an option, but not the only option," said Honda last week. "I have now decided I will leave my club at the expiry of the contract." Before then, the 27-year-old is likely to cause Man City several problems in Group D and with the Japan international providing the ammo for Seydou Doumbia in attack, Manuel Pellegrini's side could find it difficult to usurp the second seeds.
3. Marek Hamsik - Napoli
"Is Bale worth the 100 million euros Real Madrid paid for him? If so, then I'd say you can't put a price on Hamsik - and he is not for sale," said Rafa Benitez last week. The manager has already been convinced by the forward's talent after Hamsik scored four goals in three matches to help fire Napoli to the top of Serie A. The Slovakian international enjoyed his most impressive season to date last year, claiming 11 goals and 14 assists in the league as Napoli finished in second place behind Juventus. Hamsik will be looking to maintain his blistering form when he faces Arsenal on October 1, and the Gunners must be ready for the unpredictable 26-year-old.
2. Thomas Muller - Bayern Munich
There is something about Muller's gangling gait that makes him appear a rather ordinary footballer, but the German is enormously effective, scoring 22 goals and claiming 15 assists as Bayern Munich marched to the treble last season. Although the 24-year-old hasn't scored in the Bundesliga yet this year, he grabbed a hat-trick in the first round of the German Cup as Bayern thrashed minnows BSV Schwarz-Weiß Rehden and scored twice for Germany over the international break. Man City will know all about Muller after the forward helped Bayern top City's group in 2011/12 and Manuel Pellegrini will be desperate to have Vincent Kompany back before Muller and his teammates visit the Etihad on October 2.
1. Marco Reus - Borussia Dortmund
While Mario Goetze has already departed for Bayern and Robert Lewandowski has one foot out the door, Marco Reus remains committed to the Dortmund cause following a hugely impressive first year at the Westfalenstadion which saw him notch 18 goals and 11 assists. After representing Germany at Euro 2012, Reus completed his €17m move from Borussia Moenchengladbach and grabbed six strikes in his first ten matches for Jurgen Klopp's side, including the opener in a 1-1 draw with Man City at the Etihad. James Milner later confessed that City could have lost 8-1 on that occasion, and Dortmund continued to take the Champions League by storm with Reus at the heart of the attack. Sadly, for the 24-year-old, the campaign ended with defeat to Bayern in the final, but Arsenal face a tough test to contain Dortmund and Reus when the two teams meet in Group F.
Matthew Stanger - follow him on Twitter
Good to see rafa's still nuts "The Slovakian international enjoyed his most impressive season to date last year, claiming 11 goals and 14 assists in the league" So he's scored 11 goals to 21 and 14 assists to 8 IN SERIA A and he's worth more?- dev