Ahead of the start of the 2020/21 Premier League season thoughts turn towards predicting matters up and down the league, as well as those all-important individual awards.
When it comes to player of the season’s accolades, the usual suspect’s names crop up time and time again, the likes of recent winners Kevin De Bruyne, Virgil van Dijk, Raheem Sterling, etc. But this year who are the ‘other guys’ who could take the league by storm and win one of the coveted individual crowns.
Not forgetting the plethora of new and in some cases relatively unknown faces set to grace the English top-flight, although we all know how difficult it can be to adapt to the league immediately.
Here are six players who you probably haven’t considered for your player of the season prediction, but hold the potential to surprise the masses.
Ruben Neves – Wolves
The 23-year-old midfielder was an ever-present for Nuno Espirito Santo’s side last season, scoring twice, and is only getting better as time goes by. Now a fully-fledged Portugal international, Neves will have benefitted from the exposure to top-flight football and will now be ready to show the Premier League exactly what he can do, if he hasn’t already.
A stronger Wolves side around him will allow the central midfielder to express himself more, expect big things in 2020/21, and the odd long-range screamer.
Naby Keita – Liverpool
Not the name you’d associate with such honours amongst a Liverpool squad so full of stars. In truth Keita has struggled since arriving in England from RB Leipzig, however, the Guinean’s post-lockdown form was his best and that has continued into the pre-season.
Named in the Bundesliga Team of the Season for 2016/17, the time may finally have arrived for the 25-year-old to show the best of his abilities.
Danny Ings – Southampton
Came close to winning individual awards with his 2019/20 goalscoring exploits, expect that form to continue into this coming campaign as the striker seems to have put injury concerns behind him to recapture his best form. An improved Southampton showing in the first half of the season would aid the Englishman’s cause.
Ings scored 22 goals in a Saints side which struggled for large portions of the first few months of the season, one who will be desperate to get going again.
Allan Saint-Maximin – Newcastle United
Whilst a lot of the Frenchman’s potential to compete for the top awards in the country may depend on the performances of those around him, there is no doubting should his teammates provide the winger with enough of the ball, Maximin has the potential to deliver.
Still just 23 years old, the often extraordinary France Under-21 international was sensational at times last term, although his stats saw him end the season with just three Premier League goals.
Mateo Kovacic – Chelsea
Much of the attention at Stamford Bridge is going to be firmly placed on the top end of the field where Frank Lampard has been allowed to invest heavily in his reinforcements, however Kovacic may just be the man to make things tick in behind.
Similar to a current teammate of his in N’Golo Kante when Leicester City won the league in 2015/16, with such attaching talent you often need someone doing the hard midfield yards, could the Croatian be that man.
Harvey Barnes – Leicester City
Enjoyed a wonderful burst onto the scene in 2019/20 after impressing whilst on loan at West Brom in the Championship. The winger possesses plenty of pace and ability added to the willingness to run directly at the opposition.
Should Barnes improve and continue to add to his numbers, he could well be in the mix come the end of the season.
Adama Traore (Wolves), Mason Greenwood (Man United), Dwight McNeil (Burnley), Jack Grealish (Aston Villa)
One thing that is for sure is we are set for a treat when the action gets going once more.
featured image credit sky sports