It's no exaggeration to call this season a year of breakthroughs.

So many players have broken into their respective first-teams and have look to be exciting prospects with the potential to turn into superstars in the future.

Several players have almost single-handedly transformed their team's fortunes on the pitch, and have shone on the international stage too.

Let's have a look at five of the best players who have made the breakthrough, bursting into the limelight this season.

5. Matija Nastasic | Manchester City

City had a terrific 2011/12 season, winning the Premier League title courtesy of Sergio Aguero's last-minute strike against QPR. 

Although they scored for fun during the season it was their rock-solid defence that propelled their heroics. City's main man at the back was no doubt their inspirational skipper Vincent Kompany, but there isn't a shadow of a doubt that without the able assistance of Joleon Lescott, City's defence wouldn't have been as resolute. 

So when someone pushes the ex-Everton defender down the pecking order in a matter of months, this achievement should not go unnoticed. 

Nastasic, who was recently sidelined by injury, was voted City's 'Player of the Month' for November, an achievement anyone would be proud of. He has settled down very well at Eastlands and is assured of his work in defence.

Not only has the 19-year-old stopper proven to be a great summer acquisition, but he's also a player for the future.

4. Marc-Andre ter Stegen | Borussia Monchengladbach

When Sepp Maier praises you, you must have earned it. 

Often compared to Oliver Kahn, one of the best goalkeepers the world has ever seen, Ter Stegen isn't afraid to commit, stand tall in one-on-one situations, and is formidable with save after save.

It was no surprise when Barcelona scouted him as a potential replacement for their first-choice 'keeper, Victor Valdes, having announced his intention to leave the club at the end of his contract. 

According to reports, a deal has already been finalised between the Catalans and the German stopper.

En-route to becoming another great German stopper, ter Stegen is already breathing down Manuel Neuer's neck for a place in the German national side with his performances in the Bundesliga. 

3. Isco | Malaga CF

At just 20-years-old and already following in the footsteps of midfield maestros like David Silva and Juan Mata, Malaga's most prized asset looks to have a big future ahead of him.

Fransisco Roman Alarcon Suarez, better known to you and I as Isco, has made a big impact in La Liga. 

Gifted with a sensational first touche and deadly finishing abilities, Isco has filled the void left by Santi Cazorla since his switch to Premier League outfit, Arsenal. 

A proper attacking midfielder, Isco showed the world how good he really is when Malaga outplayed Spanish giants Real Madrid earlier in the season. 

He's also leading Malaga's Champions League charge single-handedly, alerting clubs like Manchester City and Chelsea to his potential.

2. Michu | Swansea City

Swansea had an excellent first season in the top flight of English football under former boss Brendan Rogers, but some feared for their future after Liverpool lured the ex-Chelsea youth coach to Anfield.

Pre-season predictions of a relegation dog fight were well wide of the mark, despite losing the likes of Scott Sinclair and Joe Allen to Manchester City and Liverpool respectively.

Enter Michael Laudrup. Having been a terrific player himself for teams like Barcelona and Real Madrid, Laudrup has shown great managerial acumen too.

His best decision has undoubtedly been the signing of Michu from Rayo Vaallecano for just £2m

The 26-year-old striker has already scored 15 goals in 25 Premier League appearances, not forgetting a goal in the Capital One Cup final success over Bradford City on Sunday. 

1. Stephan El Shaarawy | AC Milan

Milan fans had quite a forgetful summer transfer window, losing their two stalwarts in Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva to Paris Saint-Germain.

After the start they had to the season, even a relegation scrap looked like a possibility. Their silver lining came in the form of 20-year-old forward El Shaarawy, who's proved that there's more to him than a peculiar hair-do.

AC Milan now stand 3rd in the Serie A and are on the verge of beating Barcelona in the Champions League knockout stages, having beaten the Catalan giants 2-0 in the first leg at the San Siro. 

While their coach Massimiliano Allegeri has had a lot to do with this transition, El Shaarawy has played a significant role in the club's revival.

The boy with the funny hair-do has indeed propelled a struggling Italian powerhouse back to where they belong, scoring 16 goals and with some superb displays in the Champions League.

El Shaarawy has shown his class by stepping up and delivering on the big occasion. 

theFor me, 'El Sha' is breakthrough player of the season, and who knows how far he can go in the game? If early promise is anything to go by, it won't be long before he reaches the very top.

 

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