10 women primed to enjoy their big breakthrough
Season after season, the DELO EHF Champions League delivers new stars in the women’s handball world. The question is not if, rather which players will make a true breakthrough and establish themselves among the very best at this level.
This list has a bit of everything, from debutants and late bloomers to established players who simply have not had an opportunity to truly shine in the competition until now.
10. Azenaide Carlos (RK Podravka Vegeta)
Here is a bit of a wildcard to get the ball rolling. Azenaide Carlos is a proven prolific scorer at international level, as she has shown at a number of Olympics and World Championships for Angola, is an agile right back and not afraid to shoot from long range.
The 30-year-old made her debut for Podravka, her first European club, at the end of February and will have an opportunity to prove herself against Europe’s best in a matter of weeks.
9. Althea Reinhardt (Odense Håndbold)
She was just 22 in her first season at this level, back in 2018/19, and acquitted herself very well as Odense reached the quarter-finals.
With a bit more experience under her belt and a fine pair of goalkeepers to learn from, Tess Wester at Odense and Sandra Toft with Denmark, Reinhardt’s potential is sky high.
8. Mette Tranborg (Team Esbjerg)
Tranborg was also part of that Odense team and played a big part in getting them to the quarter-finals, with 44 goals, before missing out through injury.
Her summer move to Team Esbjerg signals the Danish champions’ trust in her ability and she will have ample time to prove it as she is the only established right back available to play at the club. This could be a huge season for the 24-year-old.
7. Delaila Amega (Borussia Dortmund)
An exciting debutant for a club excited for their debut in the DELO EHF Champions League, Delaila Amega has already experienced what it is like to win a World Championship, but a whole new experience awaits the 22-year-old.
Seeing the young playmaker on court excites fans and pundits alike and it will be expected to lead the way in attack for a relatively inexperienced team with a large Dutch influence.
6. Elena Mikhaylichenko (CSKA)
Despite trying my best to avoid any overlap with the top 10 transfers, I had to make two exceptions and this is the first.
Mikhaylichenko, who will turn 19 in September, had a breakout season at senior level, winning World Championship bronze in December and the EHF Player of the Month in January for her EHF Cup exploits. This bodes very well for her step up to Europe’s premier club competition and she is certain to get her opportunities to showcase her skills with CSKA.
5. Emily Bölk (FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria)
And here is the second exception, my eighth most exciting transfer of the summer. Bölk was simply brilliant and a true leader at last December’s World Championship for Germany.
The 22-year-old has had one season at this level, which ended with a standard main round exit for Thüringer HC in 2018/19, but now she has a chance to really challenge for a place in the DELO EHF FINAL4 and could be the magic ingredient for FTC.
4. Méline Nocandy (Metz Handball)
Having done her time playing second fiddle behind Grace Zaadi, Méline Nocandy will finally have a chance to make the centre back position her own at Metz.
The 22-year-old has new arrival Tjasa Stanko to contend with, but Emmanuel Mayonnade is certain to give her a chance to lead this new-look squad in attack as they target a return to Budapest, something Nocandy is well-capable of if she hits the ground running this season.
3. Henny Reistad (Vipers Kristiansand)
I might be pushing it with this selection, but I feel Henny Reistad has yet to break through to the level she is capable of. And why would she, she is still only 21.
The centre back scored goals for fun in her debut season in 2018/19, but injury kept her out until the beginning of 2020, where she still shined given such little time before the season ended early. With an improved back court either side of her, this should be a true breakthrough season for her, which will strike fear into Vipers’ opponents.
2. Yaroslava Frolova (Rostov-Don)
She has already scored a goal at the EHF FINAL4 as a 17-year-old, but Yaroslava Frolova has been waiting a good while for a real shot at this competition.
The 23-year-old playmaker has made the summer switch from Kuban to Rostov-Don after impressing for Russia at Japan 2019 and will battle it our with Grace Zaadi for the starting centre back role. If she can get sufficient time on court, Frolova will bring something new to an already thrilling Rostov-Don back court.
1. Silje Solberg (Györi Audi ETO KC)
This selection feels somewhat like cheating, but believe it or not, Silje Soberg is going to make her top flight debut this season.
Despite being an EHF EURO champion and All-star as well as winning the World Championship, the 30-year-old goalkeeper’s summer move to Györ will finally give her a chance to play in the DELO EHF Champions League. Playing in a world-class trio between the posts, Solberg should have no issues settling into the competition and potentially winning the title at her first attempt.