Five players to watch in the AFC Champions League West Zone's return

Santi Cazorla's move to Al Sadd is one of the biggest arrivals in the AFC Champions League this season. Domenech Castello/EPA-EFE

The 2020 AFC Champions League campaign finally resumes after a six-month hiatus, with the West Zone getting things back underway on Monday.

While the group stage is yet to be completed, the unprecedented situation brought about by the coronavirus pandemic means that new signings will be eligible for the competition, when the window was previously restricted to the midseason break.

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From the recent arrivals looking to make an immediate impact to the incumbents who are still going strong, here are five players to watch.

Santi Cazorla (Al Sadd)

There was no bigger arrival in Asian football over the break than Santi Cazorla joining Al Sadd and reuniting with his former Spain teammate and current manager Xavi .

A creative playmaker with an eye for a killer pass, Cazorla started making waves at Villarreal but really rose to prominence during his six-year stint with English giants Arsenal, with whom he won back-to-back FA Cups between 2013 and 2015.

Although now 35 years old, the Spaniard always relied on technical ability and intelligence more than physical strength. He already made a quick impact for Al Sadd on the domestic front with four goals in his opening three matches.

Bafetimbi Gomis (Al Hilal)

Another man with top-level European experience is former Lyon and Swansea striker Bafetimbi Gomis, who has brought his prolific ways to Saudi Arabia's Al Hilal.

The Frenchman had 11 goals as Al Hilal went all the way and wrested the Champions League trophy back to the West after seven years of East Zone dominance, winning the top scorer and Most Valuable Player awards in the process.

Gomis is currently the joint-top scorer in the competition with three goals from two games, and should continue to thrive from an excellent supply provided by the likes of Sebastian Giovinco, Salem Al-Dawsari and Andre Carrillo.

Igor Sergeev (Pakhtakor)

Before the break in play, Al Hilal boasted a was undefeated with two wins. One team that have matched them in Group B are Uzbekistan's Pakhtakor, who frequently feature in the AFC Champions League but have not gone far recently since their semifinal berth in 2004.

This season, they are looming as dark horses after seeing off Shabab Al Ahli and Shahr Khodro in their first two matches, and one of their biggest strengths is a potent attack led by Igor Sergeev.

All eyes will be on Monday's top-of-the-table clash between Pakhtakor and Al Hilal, and the Uzbek side could just pull off an upset against the reigning champions should Sergeev be at his clinical best.

Bozidar Radosevic (Persepolis)

Having spent the last couple of years playing second fiddle to Alireza Beiranvand, Bozidar Radosevic now has an excellent chance to step up as Persepolis' No. 1 -- following the Iran international's move to Belgium.

Radosevic is a former Croatia youth representative with top-flight experience from Europe, but has been restricted to just 37 appearances in the previous four campaigns since moving to Iran.

Having finished runners-up in the AFC Champions League in 2018, Persepolis failed to make it out of the group stage last term and are currently bottom of Group C with just one point from two outings this season. They might need some heroics from the 31-year-old goalkeeper if they are to turn their fortunes around.

Almoez Ali (Al Duhail)

Almoez Ali emerged as one of Asian football's brightest prospects at last year's AFC Asian Cup, with nine goals to inspire Qatar to a maiden continental triumph. Since then, the usually-deadly marksman has struggled for form and fitness, netting a meagre seven goals in the league last season and just once in the 2019 ACL campaign.

There is no doubting his talent but - at the age of 24 - Almoez will have to get his career back on track soon if he is to fulfil his potential.