The new Premier League campaign is now just days away and with over £750m spent by clubs in the top-flight this summer, to bring the likes of Paul Pogba and Michy Batshuayi to England, expectations are rising in what should be an incredible campaign.
Following Leicester City’s surprise success last term, the ‘bigger’ clubs in England are under pressure to respond, which has led to the influx of talents being brought to the league, but it also paved the way for the ‘smaller’ clubs in the division to seek bigger challenges and the new TV rights money has flooded the league, giving every club cash to splash in the market.
Whilst early attention will be on the expensive new arrivals, each season presents a change for a young player to emerge on the scene and we’ve been treated to the emergences of the likes of Marcus Rashford, Harry Kane and others in recent years- so it’s time to predict who could make the forthcoming campaign their year.
Here, we’ve detailed eleven of the brightest youngsters in the Premier League that you should keep your eyes on during the next nine months of football. If you missed our piece yesterday, here’s the talents of Ligue 1 to watch.
Alex Iwobi: Arsenal
Nigerian international Alex Iwobi made his impression on the first-team last season and enjoyed a wealth of playing time in the second-half of the season. Goals against Watford and Everton in the Premier League raised his profile, as did a starting spot in the Champions League clash against Barcelona at the Nou Camp, and with a strong pre-season behind him, Iwobi will be looking for additional experience this term. Just 20-years-old, this talent could become a superstar.
Josh Onamah: Tottenham Hotspur
Across North London, fans are getting excited about the talents of 19-year-old Josh Onamah. The England youngster has already earned a number of appearances for Spurs and his playing-time should increase this season, with Mauricio Pochettino’s side facing the challenge of balancing a Premier League campaign alongside their aims in the Champions League. Spurs have a very competitive squad but they’re not afraid to bleed new talents into the team and Onamah can look at the likes of Dele Alli and Harry Kane for inspiration.
Harrison Reed: Southampton
After another groundhog day at Southampton, with the Saints losing a number of stars to Premier League rivals over the course of the summer, the South Coast club will again look to their young ranks for inspiration- and 21-year-old Harrison Reed could make his breakthrough. With a handful of Premier League appearances in the past three years, Reed needs to secure more regular playing-time and has featured heavily in pre-season. With Victor Wanyama’s exit, Reed has the opportunity to make a first-team spot his own but the arrival of Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg from Bayern Munich will give him competition.
Ben Gibson: Middlesbrough
One of the more experienced players in this list, 23-year-old Ben Gibson was a key-figure for Aitor Karanka’s promotion winning side in the Championship last term and will be looking to make his impression in the Premier League. With over 100 league appearances for the Teesside outfit, Gibson’s target will be establishing himself in the top division, keeping Boro out of the relegation spots and maybe pushing for an England cap.
Rubens Loftus-Cheek: Chelsea
It feels like Rubens Loftus-Cheek has been around for ages but the England youth star is still just 20-years-old. A varied few years has seen Loftus-Cheek in-and-out of the first-team set-up but with Antonio Conte at the helm, Loftus-Cheek has a new chance to impress. It won’t be easy though, with the likes of Cesc Fabregas, Nemanja Matic and new signing N’Golo Kante to compete with for a central-midfield spot and the lack of European venture will mean less rotation. Still, Loftus-Cheek certainly has the ability.
Ben Woodburn: Liverpool
The 16-year-old forward has recently finished school and has established himself as a bright youngster with great performances in pre-season. Wales youth international Woodburn is expected to be promoted to Liverpool’s U23 ranks for the forthcoming season and strong performances there could earn him a spot in the first-team, especially with the EFL Cup on the horizon. It may be a season or two too early for this player but you shouldn’t take your eyes off him, as he has a great future ahead of him.
Reece Oxford: West Ham United
Reece Oxford looked destined for an astronomical season last term after he starred against Arsenal on the opening day at the age of just 16. However, just two more starts followed in the remainder of the campaign and Oxford was linked with a big-money move away from the Olympic Stadium this summer. Slaven Bilic’s side kept hold of the teenager though and, despite a wealth of competition, Oxford will be looking to prove himself once again and become a contender for the England squad in the coming years.
Rob Holding: Arsenal
A high-profile move to Arsenal from relegated Championship outfit Bolton Wanderers has put the 20-year-old on the map and he could have his chance to impress in the first few weeks of the season, with Arsenal’s defensive ranks depleted from injuries. He’s featured heavily in pre-season, which included a very assured performance against the MLS All-Stars and Didier Drogba, so he has shown good signs. Like Calum Chambers before him, he could be thrown into the deep-end but Arsene Wenger is a patient boss, so expect to see Holding feature in competitive games throughout the season.
Jordan Pickford: Sunderland
Behind Vito Mannone in the Sunderland pecking-order, 22-year-old Jordan Pickford will be aiming to make the goalkeeping spot at the Stadium of Light his own and the appointment of David Moyes could give him that chance. Pickford has played in the top-five levels of English football at his young age and will have his eyes on the England jersey, with Joe Hart uninspiring at Euro 2016 and Sam Allardyce ready to spark a new era with the Three Lions.
Matthew Pennington: Everton
Following John Stones’ move to Manchester City, Matthew Pennington has the chance to step-up into the first-team fold. Injuries at the back-end of last season gave the England youngster his chance to establish himself and he did well, continuing those performances into pre-season until a hamstring injury hampered his development. Still, the 21-year-old is in-line to benefit from Stones’ departure and Ronald Koeman is a great manager to learn under.
Sheyi Ojo: Liverpool
Jurgen Klopp has a brilliant knack of getting the most out of young or unknown players, with the likes of Mario Gotze and Robert Lewandowski benefitting from his managerial expertise, so the German could be the perfect man to develop 19-year-old Sheyi Ojo into a star. The teenager made an impact in pre-season and Klopp declared his future was at Liverpool, denying claims Ojo could leave on-loan, and that could clear the way for additional first-team involvement this season.