Franck Ribery (Bayern Munich and France) 12 games, 4 goals ***
Ribery appears to be one of those players who never gets his dues from British audiences. Perhaps it is his lack of success at national level, but the Frenchman has been one of the game's leading stars side his move to Bayern. A heavy scorer and provider of a wealth of assists, Ribery makes up for his lack of pace with exceptional dribbling ability and a hugely dangerous right boot. This season has arguably been his finest in Munich as he has carried the team to the German summit.
Gareth Bale (Tottenham and Wales) 17 games, 9 goals **
So far this season there has been more discussion of Bale’s diving than his football. That has unfairly masked the excellent performances that the Welshman has produced for both club and country. For Spurs he remains a huge attacking threat while for Wales he can on occasion be a one man team. Never was that more apparent than in his individual demolition of Scotland in the World Cup qualifiers.
Willian (Shakhtar Donestsk and Brazil) 14 games, 2 goals **
Numerous clubs were linked with a move for Willian in the summer, if they were to enquire again in 2013 it would be for a significantly higher price. The Brazilian was exceptional in the Champions League group stages, particularly in Shakhtar’s victory over Chelsea at the Donbass Arena. Fantastic individual trickery allied with rare vision make him one of the most dangerous wide players in the game.
James Rodriguez (Porto and Colombia) 12 games, 7 goals *
Already highly rated prior to the start of the season, this has been the year in which the young Colombian has come of age. Quick, direct and blessed with exceptional technique the Porto star has been one of the stand out performers in the Liga Sagres. Most of Europe's leading sides are monitoring his progress, but given Porto's history for driving a hard bargain he won't come cheap.
Romain Alessandrini (Rennes and France) 16 games, 7 goals *
It is often hard for players to make the step up from the lower leagues to the top flight. Alessandrini has proven in the last two seasons a Clermont to be a player of huge promise, but this campaign he has proven he can cut it against the best clubs in France. The youngster has a tendency to cut inside from the left wing and has demonstrated his potency in front of goal having scored seven in the league already this season.
Juan Cuadrado (Fiorentina and Colombia) 18 games, 1 goal *
After a number of years in the doldrums Colombian football is enjoying a renaissance. There are certainly better known examples of the resurgence of the nation, but Cuadrado has proven an excellent signing for Fiorentina. While he's mainly used as a wingback at club level, for the Colombian national team he plays a more advanced role which suits his trickery on the ball and willingness of get forward at every opportunity.
Juan Arango (Borussia Moenchengladbach and Venezuela) 17 games, 5 goals *
The owner of the world's sweetest left foot may well not be Lionel Messi or Robin van Persie but Juan Arango. Gladbach's star midfielder has continued to enjoy his time in the Bundesliga with a penchant for spectacular shots from long range. Although he could never be described as prolific when Arango does hit the back of the net his goals tend to be memorable.
Dries Mertens (PSV Eindhoven and Belgium) 15 games, 7 goals *
Belgium's abundance of riches means that Dries Mertens has been relatively overlooked among spotters of young talent. The PSV star is at his best cutting inside on his right foot and is a superb free-kick taker with pinpoint accuracy. The success of his club has been based on numerous strong performers (Kevin Strootman in midfield is certainly worth of mention) but nobody has been a more dangerous threat in PSV's attack.
Arda Turan (Atletico Madrid and Turkey) 16 games, 5 goals *
With Adrian among the few Atleti players not to fire this season, much of the creative responsibility for the team's attacks has rested with Turan. Last season he showed why such a fuss had been made about his ability in Turkey and this year he has been equally good. A brilliant dribbler he has curbed some of the selfishness which was a trait before his move to Spain and is now an a prodigious provider from either wing.
Eden Hazard (Chelsea and Belgium) 20 games, 4 goals *
After making a fantastic start to his Chelsea career, Hazard has been rather more muted in recent months. The precocious nature of his talents and his lack of experience at the highest level would perhaps suggest such a come-down, but he has still been impressive when afforded time and space. Given the calibre of his performances for Lille in recent years, there is no doubt there is still much more to come for the Blues.
Markel Susaeta (Athletic Bilbao and Spain) 17 games, 2 goals *
Last season saw Bilbao flying high as Marcelo Bielsa's influence made the Basques one of the most exciting clubs in Europe. This year has been far more problematic but Susaeta has been one of the few performers to seriously up his game. The winger has gained international recognition making his debut for Vicente del Bosque and scoring on his debut in a 5-1 victory over Panama.