Rahul Warrier profiles 20 Young Players to watch in the 2020/21 Premier League season, one from each club!
The return of Premier League football after the shortest of end-season breaks comes as a welcome relief to most fans across the globe. The excitement has been building up to a tasty opening day which sees the winners of the Premier League, take on the winners of the Championship. With the fate of all the prizes up for grabs, players and managers alike are full of motivation to put on a great show. Here, we look at one player under the age of 20 from each club to watch.
Arsenal // Bukayo Saka // 19 // England
Bukayo Saka is one of Arsenal’s most exciting players at the minute. Only 19, he properly burst into the scene under Mikel Arteta last season. While making his debut as a left-winger, he’s been used at left-back, left-midfield, attacking midfield and right-wing. Eventually, Arteta will have to find a defined role for the youngster. But versatility will not hurt him at this young stage. He will have plenty of opportunity this season to become a guaranteed starter, and you wouldn’t expect him to spurn those chances. One of England’s brightest talents.
Aston Villa // Louie Barry // 17 // England
There’s a lot of hype around Barry. Having moved from West Brom to Barcelona in 2019, he spent five months in La Masia before moving back to Birmingham with Aston Villa. Given he is 17, it is unlikely that he will make a proper breakthrough this year. While he trains regularly with the first team, he might have to make do with under-23 football and the odd cup game. But Barry remains Aston Villa’s most exciting sub-20 prospect at the minute.
Brighton // Tariq Lamptey // 19 // England
Tariq Lamptey made his debut for Chelsea last season before making a permanent move to Brighton in the winter window, and it’s proven to be an excellent decision. He was a regular in the Project Restart games and will undoubtedly be a big part of the season to come. He appears to be a natural fit to Graham Potter’s system whether it be as a right-back or a right wing-back. This season should be his breakthrough year.
Burnley // Dwight McNeil // 20 // England
Dwight McNeil was one of a select group to start all 38 games last season. It is rare to see Burnley play a youngster, never mind entrust him with creative and attacking responsibility. But McNeil is hugely promising: he had two goals and six assists, and will undoubtedly play a vital role in Burnley’s bid to stay up comfortably in the league. Another strong season could see McNeil move on to a bigger club.
Chelsea // Reece James // 20 // England
Chelsea have spent heavily this window, which could impact the gametime of Billy Gilmour and Callum Hudson-Odoi. But there is no such concern with Reece James. The right-back made 37 appearances in all competitions last season and finished it as the starter. With Cesar Azpilicueta getting older and playing lesser as a result, James is likely to be one of the few academy graduates to get regular gametime this season. It’s expected that he will push on in his second full season at the club.
Crystal Palace // Nathan Ferguson // 19 // England
Crystal Palace, the league’s oldest team, have looked to reduce the average age this season. Having a defence over the age of 30 and failing to adequately replace Aaron Wan-Bissaka last summer, they moved to bring in Nathan Ferguson from West Brom. The youngster was a regular in the first half of West Brom’s promotion campaign last season, with a move to Palace in January scuppered by injury. He will now look to establish himself as a starter at right-back.
Everton // Anthony Gordon // 19 // England
Everton have a fair few attacking options, but it seems likely that manager Carlo Ancelotti will keep his trust in Anthony Gordon. The academy graduate made his debut last season and played a substantial role in the Project Restart games, including a start against Liverpool. He was one of the club’s positives from last season and after the club’s investment in midfield this season, will be looking to push on himself with a breakthrough season. The winger holds plenty of promise.
Fulham // Antonee Robinson // 23 // USA
Fulham are the exception to the rule, with no obvious sub-20 player likely to make a step-up this season. In a season where they’re likely to fight for survival, it is unlikely regular minutes will be afforded to youngsters. Antonee Robinson is the closest they have: having signed from Wigan, there was plenty of interest in him. With a Milan move collapsing in January, Robinson is likely to be the first-choice left-back. It will be a step-up for him.
Leeds United // Illan Meslier // 20 // France
Having signed from Lorient last season, Meslier spent the majority of Leeds’ season as the second choice keeper. Kiko Casilla’s eight game ban pushed Meslier into the limelight, and he responded brilliantly. Playing in the crucial games at the end of the season to secure promotion, the Frenchman kept seven cleansheets in ten games and conceded just four. Given Casilla’s situation, there is no reason for Bielsa to not trust Meslier. It will be a big test of his abilities but he has proven himself so far.
Leicester City // Luke Thomas // 19 // England
With the sale of Ben Chilwell to Chelsea, there is an opening at left-back. While one would expect the purchased Timothy Castagne to play there, there is a chance for Luke Thomas to make his case. He made his debut versus Sheffield United last season and played superbly in a 2-0 win, notching an assist. While raw and inexperienced, the games will come thick and fast this season, providing Thomas the chance to grow and play regularly.
Liverpool // Billy Koumetio // 17 // France
Rhian Brewster’s short-term future is in the air, while Curtis Jones and Neco Williams could find gametime tough to come with the experienced first-teamers ahead of them. Billy Koumetio might be one to benefit this season, however. After Dejan Lovren’s departure, the fourth centre-back spot is open in the squad. Koumetio, signed in January 2019 from US Orléans, has impressed Jurgen Klopp in pre-season. Rotation and injuries could see him get a chance sooner than expected.
Manchester City // Phil Foden // 20 // England
With David Silva leaving Manchester City after a decade, the onus will fall onto to Stockport-born Phil Foden to fill that gap. His role in the first team has increased steadily over the past few years, as he’s had to bide his time. But after a season of increased gametime in 2019-20, he will hope to further push on this season. Manchester City could do worse than have a locally-born youngster be a regular first-teamer.
Manchester United // Mason Greenwood // 18 // England
The Red Devils have a much younger look to them these days, but there is no looking past Mason Greenwood at the minute. The 18-year old made his first-team debut in 2018-19, but rose to greater prominence in the first-team last season. He established himself as a regular post-lockdown in an exciting front three, and finished with ten goals in the Premier League and 17 in all competitions. Now the owner of the No 11 shirt, his development will be exciting to watch even amidst the hype.
Newcastle United // Matty Longstaff // 20 // England
Matty Longstaff scored on debut against Manchester United last season in a 2-0 win (and also scored in the 4-1 away loss against United). The majority of his season was dominated by his expiring contract however, and he only found limited gametime. After belatedly signing a contract last month, he will be looking to push on this season.
Sheffield United // Ethan Ampadu // 19 // Wales
Signed on loan from Chelsea, it will be fascinating to see how Ethan Ampadu gets on at Sheffield United this season. The Welshman has been a regular at international level but has found gametime tougher to come by at Chelsea and RB Leipzig, where he spent the last season at. There is no defined opening for him at the Blades yet, but his versatility at CB and DM should see him accrue plenty of minutes. It will be another season of education under an established manager for the talented youngster.
Southampton // Will Smallbone // 20 // Ireland
Southampton sold Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg to Tottenham and let Harrison Reed leave permanently to Fulham. They might appear short on numbers but it could be a sign manager Ralph Hasenhuttl is willing to entrust Will Smallbone with greater responsibility. After making his debut last season, the Irishman will be looking to make a proper breakthrough in the coming season.
Tottenham Hotspur // Ryan Sessegnon // 20 // England
Ryan Sessegnon is still 20. He made his first-team debut in 2016-17, then had a breakthrough year in Fulham’s promotion in 17-18 before playing heavily in their relegation campaign. A move to Tottenham followed, but his first year was tricky amidst a change in manager. His second season will be looked at more carefully, and after settling in, he will have to push on now. He has time on his hands, of course, but he risks stagnating without regular gametime.
West Bromwich Albion // Rayhaan Tulloch // 19 // England
West Brom will be in a fight for survival this season, meaning minutes to youngsters may come at a premium. Rayhaan Tulloch, however, might be in contention for gametime if injuries play their part. A quick winger that can run in and dribble, a loan to a lower division club might be more conducive to his development. However, if he stays with the first-team, an opportunity could well present itself. Having signed a contract extension in July, his future is at West Brom in the long-term.
West Ham United // Ben Johnson // 20 // England
West Ham are in need of a long-term solution at right-back: Pablo Zabaleta and Alvaro Arbeloa were experienced heads, while Sam Byram and Ryan Fredericks have not proven good enough. The Clarets gave Jeremy Ngakia gametime in the second half of the season only to see him turn down a contract and move to Watford; they subsequently gave Ben Johnson the last three games of the season. With no new right-back signed and West Ham short of funds, this is Johnson’s opportunity to play regularly.
Wolverhampton Wanderers // Vitinha // 20 // Portugal
Wolves have three Portuguese youngsters to choose from. Pedro Neto made progress last season, while Fabio Silva has just signed for 40 million euros but will play understudy to Raul Jimenez. Vitinha has also signed from Porto on a loan with an option to buy. Nuno Esprito Santo doesn’t have as many options in midfield as he does further forward, so Vitinha could be one to receive more minutes than his compatriots. His success would be beneficial to a relatively thin squad.
Read all our Talent Radar articles here.
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