The yearly ritual of scouting the best young players in the Prem is finally here. Pushed forward by the yearly iteration of FIFA, it’s time to declare young players the next greats. It’s an inexact science, but it doesn’t stop anyone.
There’s an argument to be made that the Prem is the most talented league on Earth. The top end talent in the Prem may take all the attention, but there’s plenty of young talent in the league.
A lot of the focus, naturally, goes towards those young players breaking into top 6 teams. However, the players currently making their name with lesser known teams are just as interesting. Who knows, these players may soon be plying their trade in the top 6.
From a youngster who never got a chance at Manchester City to a player who tore up the Championship, there are a few youngsters to focus on. In addition, it would also be helpful to look at certain talents by position. All these players are exciting prospects who will draw the eyes of Europe’s elite.
It’s not a guarantee that these players will take the league by storm. Rather, it’s the players that seem most likely to achieve sustained success.
Making the move from the Championship to the Prem is incredibly difficult, especially for youngsters. Given the gargantuan difference in terms of talent, most young players fail to adapt to the Prem.
Last season in the Championship, Brennan Johnson tore up the division, pushing Forest to promotion. Winning the Championship young player of the season in a special season, bright things were surely on the horizon for Johnson. Already off to an impressive start to life in the Prem, it’s hard to envision Johnson with Forest in the near future.
Forest has struggled in the early days of their return to the Prem. Their mismash of transfers hasn’t really worked, leaving the majority of the pressure on Johnson. He has already scored two goals in the Prem and is his side’s offensive focal point.
Johnson’s best position is playing alongside or behind a striker, allowing him to operate in the space created. This allows him to use his pace and skills to finish off runs or playmake. To reach the next level, Johnson has to adapt his passing to the Premier League level.
If he’s able to be the starman on a Forest side that narrowly avoids relegation, he should be able to make the jump up a level. Forest could cash in and reinvest in their squad as well.
This is definitely not the sexiest pick. A defensive midfielder over a number of more creative players, what’s wrong with you?
Amadou Onana is already a good defensive midfielder who can be the Prem’s best. With plenty of top flight experience in France for a good Lille side, it’s hard to not see the potential. Onana has a commanding presence at 6’4”, but has great technique for a player his size.
Everton have made some truly awful signings recently, but Onana will surely right those wrongs. Despite only playing a handful of games, he’s already near the top of the league in terms of tackles and interceptions. The Belgian has already earned some caps for his national team and will become a mainstay in an aging side.
These types of commanding midfielders will always have a place in the Prem. The next step for Onana has to develop his passing game a little more, as his numbers are just around league average. Players like Onana are the type that will play at the top level for well over a decade.
While definitely not the flashiest pick, it’s easier to see Onana succeed long term in the league. Given his style of play, it’ll only be a matter of time before a bigger club comes knocking.
Do goalkeepers count as defensive players? They do for this list, as there is a really exciting young keeper killing it currently.
For yet another time, Southampton have opted to go for a Manchester City keeper as their keeper of the future. While Angus Gunn was a total flop, Gavin Bazunu has had a stellar start to the season. The Irish keeper has stood his ground against some of the Prem’s top teams.
Bazunu was always going to have trouble getting into the City team. City had a logjam at keeper with starter Ederson, at the time, being backed up by USMNT keeper Zack Steffan. Southampton was the perfect landing spot, given their ability to nurture young talent.
In his short time in the Prem, Bazunu has shown elite command of his area, being near the top of the league for stopped crosses. Against Chelsea, the league was introduced to a potential top keeper with him keeping Chelsea out time and time again. To get to the next level, he has to get better at choosing when to be aggressive with his moves.
With plenty of clubs constantly looking for new keepers, it’s safe to assume that Bazunu will eventually make a move to the next level. Clubs like Juventus or Spurs, who will look to replace their keepers in the future, should keep an eye on the Irishman.
Predicting the futures of young players is futile, as anything can happen to these players. They could join the ranks of Premier league greats or be remembered as busts. But, that’s part of being a fan, predicting the future and likely being wrong.
Featured image: Sky Sport