⚽ The Best Premier League Youngsters 19/2017th June 2020 |
As the Premier League gets set to resume on tonight, we have taken a look at some of the young players in the division who are worth watching in the coming weeks and beyond.
The following eight starlets will all hope that the hectic nature of the fixture list and the increase in available substitutes will lead to more game time for the rest of 2019/20.
Billy Gilmour (Chelsea)
The Premier League’s three-month hiatus came at a bad time for Gilmour, who had only recently broken into the Chelsea first team. The 19-year-old was excellent in an FA Cup tie against Liverpool in early March, with his performance so impressive that Frank Lampard kept him in the team for the subsequent Premier League encounter against Everton, in which he was named Man of the Match after a 4-0 victory.
The Scottish teenager is a deep-lying midfielder who loves to get on the ball and set the tempo of his team’s play. He possesses a fine range of passing and is composed in possession, although he may need to bulk up a little in the coming years.
Phil Foden (Manchester City)
Pep Guardiola thinks highly of Foden, who he described last summer as “the most talented player” he has ever seen.
The Catalan – who has coached Lionel Messi, lest we forget – was probably referring to players in Foden’s age group, but it is clear from his various utterances that Guardiola is a big fan of the ‘Stockport Iniesta’.
Yet Foden has played less frequently than he might have expected so far in 2019/20, although that could change in his team’s final 10 games. A left-footed playmaker, City supporters see Foden as the heir to David Silva, who will leave the club this summer.
Troy Parrott (Tottenham)
Jose Mourinho was reluctant to turn to Parrott when Harry Kane and Son Heung-min were struck down with injury
before the pause in play. Mourinho claimed that the Irishman was not ready for first-team action and even criticised him for thinking he was “too good” to play for the club’s Under-23s.
Given that Kane and Son are now back fit, it would be a surprise to see much of Parrott in Spurs’ remaining matches. But if the teenager does get the nod, Tottenham will gain a technically gifted and intelligent centre-forward.
Declan Rice (West Ham United)
Unlike some of the players listed here, Rice is already established in West Ham’s first team.
It helps, of course, that his employers are not a member of England’s big six, where it tends to be harder for young players to break through.
The 21-year-old often played as a centre-half in a back three in David Moyes’ first spell at the London Stadium. Now deployed exclusively as a holding midfielder, Rice has been linked with a move to Manchester United and Chelsea this season, but for now he will be fully focused on helping West Ham avoid relegation to the Championship.
Mason Greenwood (Manchester United)
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been rebuilding the Manchester United squad since he took the reins on a permanent basis in March 2019. Solskjaer has given the team a more youthful look, and Greenwood has been one of the academy graduates to take advantage.
Marcus Rashford’s return to fitness could restrict his minutes over the coming weeks, but we can still expect to see Greenwood feature from the bench. The 18-year-old is a fine finisher and is a rarity in the modern game in that his left and right feet appear to be equally strong.
Eric Garcia (Manchester City)
It tends to be easier for young forwards to get a chance in the first team than their defensive counterparts. Experience is a more valued commodity among those who play at the back, while it is rarer to see a centre-half thrown on in the closing stages of a game than it is a winger or central striker.
The 19-year-old Garcia has therefore had to remain patient for opportunities to date, although he has still racked up six Premier League appearances in 2019/20. The Spaniard is comfortable on the ball and has had little trouble fitting in with Guardiola’s possession-based style of play.
Gabriel Martinelli (Arsenal)
Martinelli was not expected to play much of a role in Arsenal’s first team this season following his move from Ituano, a lower-league Brazilian club, last summer. The Brazilian has enjoyed a superb campaign, though, and was a regular starter under Mikel Arteta before the season was put on hold in the middle of March.
Martinelli announced himself in England with a brace against Nottingham Forest in September, and he later scored twice against Liverpool in the League Cup. A versatile forward who usually plays on the left, Martinelli is skilful, dynamic and a terrific dribbler.
Mason Mount (Chelsea)
Since his appointment as Chelsea manager last summer, Frank Lampard has promoted several of the club’s young players. That decision was partly enforced due to the club’s transfer ban, but the Blues have been able to maintain their top-four challenge while calling upon several academy graduates – a development which bodes well for the next generation in west London.
Mount is among those who has taken advantage. The attacking midfielder began the campaign brilliantly, scoring three goals in his first five Premier League outings. He has not quite maintained that strike rate since then, but Mount has shown his promise throughout 2019/20 and will now be keen to help Chelsea qualify for the Champions League.
Article by Greg Lea
Greg Lea is a freelance football writer who has had work published by FourFourTwo, the Guardian, ESPN and Goal.com. He is the former editor of The Set Pieces. Follow him on Twitter.