Big-name stars from Eden Hazard to Mohamed Salah command much of the praise and attention in the Premier League, but every so often, an unexpected player will rise to the occasion and grab the spotlight–both on the field and at the heart of transfer rumors.
These players could go on to be Premier League greats–earning their clubs millions in the process–or, as some do, fade into the abyss and end up playing lower league football in a foreign land, but regardless have been pleasant surprises over the current campaign.
Here is a look at seven players who have surpassed all expectations in their breakthrough season in England's top flight:
David Brooks - AFC Bournemouth
It has been an impressive debut season at Bournemouth for the Welshman. Following his £10m summer move from Sheffield United, the 21-year-old has gone on to make 22 impressive appearances this term for the Cherries in the Premier League - scoring six and assisting four goals.
Now there is talk of the Manchester City academy graduate moving on to bigger and better things, with Bournemouth expected to make a tidy profit on the midfielder should he be able to be prised elsewhere.
Sean Longstaff - Newcastle United
With Mohamed Diame, Jonjo Shelvey and Ki Sung-yueng all struggling to get back into the Newcastle starting linuep following injury, it is testament to how well Sean Longstaff has been playing.
The 21-year-old tore up League One while on loan at Blackpool last season, and after making his Premier League debut on Boxing Day at Liverpool and starting at Chelsea in January, he hasn't looked back - quickly becoming a fan favorite in the process.
Now with six consecutive league starts, and creating a fine partnership with Isaac Hayden in the middle of the park, Rafa Benitez has some real selection headaches.
Mattéo Guendouzi - Arsenal
Few could claim to have heard of Mattéo Guendouzi before his £7m move to the Emirates from Ligue 2 side FC Lorient. But it looks like Unai Emery–and departed transfer chief Sven Mislintat–unearthed a real gem, and a bargain, too.
The defensive midfielder has made 17 starts for the Gunners this campaign and gained a reputation as a tenacious player who is posing a real selection dilemma for Emery - with Lucas Torreira and Granit Xhaka both vying for the same position.
Declan Rice - West Ham United
Admittedly, this one is a bit of a cheat - with Rice already enjoying a burgeoning reputation last term. Twice a Young Player of the Year award winner, he made 26 Premier League appearances last year with 11 of those coming from the bench.
But it is this year that the midfielder has risen to prominence. The 20-year-old has already started 24 times in the league under Manuel Pellegrini, becoming one of the Hammers’ most important players–and he is now being touted as a future West Ham captain.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka - Crystal Palace
It's fair to say England boss Gareth Southgate has a plethora of options when it comes to the right back position - Kyle Walker, Kieran Trippier, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Nathaniel Clyne all fighting for the No. 2 shirt.
Now, Southgate will be paying close attention to the emerging talents of Crystal Palace's uncapped defenderAaron Wan-Bissaka. The 21-year-old has started all but two of the Eagles Premier League fixtures this term and is joint top in the rankings for the most tackles completed this season.
Dwight McNeil - Burnley
It's been a mixed season for Sean Dyche and Burnley this term. Following last season's qualification for the Europa League, the Clarets have struggled balancing league and cup competitions.
One positive to come from Turf Moor is the emergence of 19-year-old Dwight McNeil. The English left winger hasn't looked back since a cameo role on Boxing Day against Everton - going on to score one and assist four goals for the Clarets.
In the last eight fixtures where McNeil has featured, Burnley are unbeaten - coincidence?
James Maddison - Leicester City
Following just one full season in the Championship, Leicester City splashed out £22m on the English midfielder - which certainly raised a few eyebrows at the time. Fast-forward a few months and Maddison is in the England squad and enjoying an excellent run of form in a Foxes shirt.
With 25 Premier League appearances along with five goals and four assists, the 22-year-old is already proving value for money as Leicester City look to build on a disappointing campaign which has seen Claude Puel sacked following their third straight defeat.