Every season, talent from all twenty top-flight clubs’ academies burst onto the first team scene and take the division by storm either going straight to the seniors or following loan spells in other leagues.
The likes of Trent-Alexander Arnold, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Marcus Rashford have all made their names in recent years and become stars on the international stage.
Let’s take a look at ten young lads who could set the league alight this year.
Reiss Nelson (Arsenal)
Predominantly operating on the right but able to play effectively across the entirety of the forward line, the 18 year-old really broke into the Gunners’ first team last season in the Europa League – making 8 appearances (5 from the bench). As a powerful runner on the flanks, new boss Unai Emery could utilise him in cup competitions due to the lack of natural wingers in the squad. Yet to bag a goal or assist at senior level, his statistics could certainly use some improving but needs a chance this season; which he may well take.
Callum Hudson-Odoi (Chelsea)
The breakout star of Maurizio Sarri’s first pre-season at Chelsea, the 6ft winger showed skill and sharp feet in friendlies which earned him the number 20 shirt this year. Making his debut during his side’s dismal last campaign, his talent has already been teased at Stamford Bridge and the youngster will be keen to impress. It is never wise to bank of a youth product to make it at the loaning-out club but surely the potential the 27 year-old boasts is too good to ignore.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka (Crystal Palace)
Quickly establishing himself at Selhurst Park as the go-to right back, the Croydon-born defender showed his quality during his side’s opening game of the season in which he got many pundits talking. A strong and dynamic player, he suits the counter-attacking philosophy that manager Roy Hodgson (who said he deserves a “pat on the back” for his display at Craven Cottage) employs. Eligible for both DR Congo and England, the international stage is not out of the question for Wan-Bissaka if he can maintain his excellent form. Remarkably, he had never played in defence until around 18 months ago. Despite being sent off against Liverpool this past weekend, he still performed admirably with 4 completed dribbles.
Ryan Sessegnon (Fulham)
Probably the most well-documented star on this list, the left back/left winger shone in the Championship last season, and earned his side promotion – chipping in with a superb 15 goals. Losing his battle with the aforementioned Wan-Bissaka during his top-flight debut, some may have doubted his ability – however, that would be unwise considering he has already displayed his class on numerous occasions in the past two years. Tipped for an England call-up any time soon after a decent display at Wembley at the weekend, and linked with huge European clubs, make sure you are on the hype train before the doors slam shut when this young star becomes a household name.
Rhian Brewster (Liverpool)
Unfortunately, most people know this star’s name due to the racism he allegedly faced last season in the U17 World Cup but he could be on fan’s lips for the right reasons this year. Promoted to the first team this summer and rewarded with a new long-term contract, Brewster now has his opportunity to show his quality. Blessed with a-near immaculate first touch and the vision to find teammates in & around the penalty area whilst in tight spaces, the lack of out-and-out strikers for Jürgen Klopp may help him as a space in the “heavy metal” team could open up at some point. He was also involved in another saga which resulted in the Redmen cancelling a friendly against Borussia Mönchengladbach in the summer due to the Bundesliga club allegedly tapping him up.
Brahim Díaz (Manchester City)
Likened to fellow Spanish teammate David Silva, the left-footed attacking midfielder played a bit-part in the Citizen’s title win last time out and will no doubt have the perfect mentors in the aforementioned D. Silva and Pep Guardiola. Looking comfortable in 15 minutes during the Community Shield, the absence of Kevin De Bruyne should open some doors for the former Malaga man. With his contract expiring at the close of the season, his chance to shine will come with pressure but he will be given all the tools a young player requires in such a dominant team.
Tahith Chong (Manchester United)
Impressing on a dismal United tour this summer, the Dutch winger with some easily recognisable hair has bags of pace and tricky that could cause problems for any full back. A fairly lucrative signing in 2016 from Feyenoord was always going to break into the first team and even the usually youth-suppressing José Mourinho cannot ignore the talent shown out wide by this man. Likely to get chances in cup competitions, the league is no forgone conclusion if he continues in the same vein.
Domingos Quina (Watford)
Signed from London neighbours West Ham United on deadline day, Guinea-Bissau-born attacking midfielder was linked with Barcelona quite heavily throughout the transfer window. Choosing to move to Vicarage Road instead of the Camp Nou, he may be expecting first team action as he labelled a wonderkid last season with skills and a brilliant final ball proving himself to be a technically gifted play-maker. Representing his childhood nation Portugal at youth level, his almost trademark over-the-top lobbed through ball can split opposition wide open and fits into the style of play that Javi Gracia is striving for.
Emile Smith Rowe (Arsenal)
Shining on tour in Asia with the Gunners with a goal against Atlético Madrid day prior to his 18th birthday, the protégé claimed the goal topped winning the U17 World Cup last year. Not particularly tipped for stardom ahead of this season, the Croydon lad has been with the club since the age of 10 and “[likes] to keep [his] feet on the ground and keep [his] head down” – showing his industrious nature. Despite playing in a role in which Arsenal have plenty of reinforces in, he may well break into the new-look side before the end of the campaign.
Phil Foden (Manchester City)
Similar to his aforementioned teammate, it is almost guaranteed that the life-long City supporter will be given an abundance of chances as a result of De Bruyne’s knee injury and it would be harsh to call it ‘lucky’ considering he was already on the fringes prior to that huge squad blow. Labelled as one of the brightest talents that England has to offer, his ability to keep the ball and play with maturity is a sight to behold – displayed throughout the season last year. A local lad with interest from around the globe, an International debut will be calling pretty soon if he continues his exceptional rise.
Angel Gomes (Manchester United)
Replacing captain Wayne Rooney in his final appearance at Old Trafford in a United shirt to become the club’s youngest ever debutante at just 16 in 2017 showed how highly the Red Devils rate him. Touted as one of the best the iconic academy has ever produced, the Iniesta-like England U17 captain can score, assist, pass and take opposition men on with ease. Standing at only 5ft 4in but still 17 at the time of writing, the Godson of former red Nani has plenty of time to develop and live up to the hype.
Are there any other youngsters who should be on this list? Let us know.