Who's Africa's best hope?

Last season, Achraf Hakimi became the Champions League's first African winner in six years when he made two appearances en route to Real Madrid's 13th continental crown.

Hakimi's success came at a cost from an African point of view, with Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, Joel Matip and Dominic Solanke all missing out on the chance to write their name into the tournament's history.

Now fully recovered from Sergio Ramos's manhandling in Kyiv, Salah - as the continent's outstanding player today - will surely be a contender once again, but which of Africa's other stars are in the running for European gold?

While Salah fell just short last season, could it be that another North African talent will clinch the continent's top prize this term?Riyad Mahrez swapped Leicester City for Manchester City in order to compete for the kind of silverware that will surely come the club's way under Pep Guardiola.

The Algeria international will surely have a key role to play as the Sky Blues look to win their first continental prize, and as Guardiola looks to end his eight-year wait for the title.

While City have taken their time to adapt to the demands of the UCL - and have been one of the competition's great underachievers to date - their increased strengthening alongside the potential weakening of Barcelona and Real opens the door to a sustained challenge on the crown.

Could it be Mahrez, rather than Salah, who follows in Hakimi's footsteps as North Africa's next UCL winner?

While three of the other favourites for the title - Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Real - don't have any African interest this term, Juventus will be hoping that the arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo can take them one step further than in 2017, when they were emphatically defeated finalists.

As Andrea Barzagli and Giorgio Chiellini age, Medhi Benatia is stepping into an increasingly key role in the heart of the defence, and this could be the year when he gets the chance to make amends for Bayern's UCL failures during his time in Bavaria.

Italian-Ivorian wonderkid Moise Kean could also be one to watch for the Old Lady this term, having remained in Turin despite significant summer interest.Elsewhere, Paris Saint-Germain, like City, will be looking to end several years of underachievement in the tournament by winning their first European cup.

In the dugout, the club are confident that Thomas Tuchel is the man to succeed where Unai Emery failed, although the arrival of Cameroon's Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting from Stoke City was somewhat anticlimactic.

A fine player on his day, Choupo-Moting has proven himself to be erratic and inconsistent, and managed just one goal in eight UCL appearances with Schalke 04 back in 2014-15.

Tuchel can also call upon the likes of Colin Dagba, Christopher Nkunku, Moussa Diaby and Stanley N'Soki, all of whom are eligible for African nations, even if Timothy Weah is not.

While Liverpool's focus might be primarily on the Premier League this season, as they look to mount a consistent challenge to City, they cannot be written off continentally.

Jurgen Klopp's side now have experience of a deep run into the tournament, and their 100-percent record in the Prem so far this season suggests there's been no hangover from their final heartbreak.

Already, the impact of new arrival Naby Keita is being felt in the top flight, and it will be fascinating to see which of Europe's giants will be able to keep Salah, Mane et al at bay.

Manchester United look to be getting over their recent struggles to find a measure of consistently in the Premier League, and Jose Mourinho's nous - scrutinised as it might be - could make them contenders again.

Eric Bailly faces an uncertain future at Old Trafford, with Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur linked to his signature, and it's unclear what role he will play in the coming months.

And what of Spurs, England's fourth representative?

Despite last season's ultimate disappointment against Juventus, they're growing in stature in Europe, evidenced by results against Real Madrid and the performance, albeit in defeat, against the Old Lady.

Having eschewed the summer transfer market, Mauricio Pochettino will be relying on some of his fringe players to step into key roles in Europe, and each of Victor Wanyama, Serge Aurier and Georges-Kevin N'koudou have a point to prove in the capital.

Atletico Madrid's domestic struggles raise doubts about their title credentials, although expect midfield powerhouse Thomas Partey to continue his recent progression.

The Ghana international was arguably Africa's most improved player last term, and should continue his rise to prominence under Diego Simeone this term.

Of the chasing pack, Ajax (Andre Onana, Hakim Ziyech), FC Porto (Vincent Aboubakar, Yacine Brahimi, Moussa Marega), Internazionale (Keita Balde, Kwadwo Asamoah) and Naples (Kalidou Koulibaly, Faouzi Ghoulam) boast African superstars whose performances will be critical to their continental success.

Henry Onyekuru at Galatasaray could be the breakout star of the competition, while AS Monaco, Olympique Lyonnais, Borussia Dortmund and Club Brugge all boast young continental talent who have the potential to establish themselves among the big boys of Europe.