Brightest Young Talent at Every Premier League Club
The 2014-15 Premier League season is just around the corner, and clubs up and down the country are finalising their squads; assessing where they remain weak and judging the transfer market to see who could come in and make a big impact.
For some lucky managers, though, putting their faith in the club's academy system can yield big rewards, saving money on new signings and finding the next big thing for the fans to fawn over, for big clubs to sniff following three impressive sub appearances and, just maybe, somebody who can go on and establish himself as a first-team player.
Here we've selected one youngster from each Premier League team who could be that young pretender.
To qualify, players have to be aged 21 or under and, wherever possible (there are one or two reasonable exceptions), not have made more than 25 top-flight league appearances for the team already.
Otherwise, we can probably rest assured they are part of the plans anyway going into the season and capable of holding their own in the Premier League, rather than a youngster looking to make the breakthrough this time around.
Arsenal: Calum Chambers
Arsenal somewhat surprisingly signed Calum Chambers from Southampton this summer, but the versatile defender has quickly shown he has the quality to compete for a place at the Gunners.
Arsene Wenger stated in his press conference after the Emirates Cup that Chambers could comfortably play in central midfield as well as in defence, and while, of course, he broke through as a right-back at Saints, his footballing education was as a midfielder.
Technically and physically, he looks the part and is ready to give Arsenal great depth.
Comments from Emirates Cup obtained first hand.
Aston Villa: Jack Grealish
Jack Grealish made his Aston Villa league debut near the end of last season and has been challenged by his manager, as per BBC Sport, to fight for a place in the first team this campaign.
Capable of playing anywhere along the attacking midfield line, Grealish has good technique and movement and dribbles at players for fun.
He certainly looks capable of at least taking on an impact sub role this season at Villa and, given the options available to them, could play a fair part in their season.
Burnley: Cameron Howieson
Burnley don't have many tremendously young players in their first-team squad, but reserve Cameron Howieson spent time on loan at Doncaster Rovers last season and has made fleeting appearances for his parent club.
He is also a full international with New Zealand and was in their Olympic squad for the 2012 tournament.
Howieson is an attacking midfielder who can play centrally or from the flank.
Chelsea: Marco Van Ginkel
Chelsea have seen Marco van Ginkel recover from last season's injury to play a significant part in their pre-season campaign this summer.
Although there have been new arrivals who, particularly in the shape of Cesc Fabregas, could mean competition for places at Stamford Bridge is even more intense, Van Ginkel has shown more than enough to suggest he'll be part of Jose Mourinho's plans going forward.
Calm and composed on the ball, he passes well, shows consistency in his distribution and can break from deep to support the front line.
Crystal Palace: Jonathan Williams
Still at Crystal Palace for now, at least, Jonathan Williams is one of the top young talents at the club and has shown great capacity for playing an attacking midfield role.
A neat passer, able to drive forward with the ball at his feet and also capable of playing from the flanks, Williams is a 20-year-old midfield player who has mainly played at Championship level but also featured at the back end of last season in the top flight.
Williams has been linked with a move to Swansea, as per Sky Sports.
Everton: John Stones
John Stones had a difficult time of things at right-back from time to time last season, but in the centre of defence, he's an altogether different proposition.
Composed, a good reader of the game and able to time his challenges well, Stones is a 20-year-old rock at the back and has every chance of not just playing a significant part for Everton but actually being one of their two first-choice centre-backs for the coming season.
He's already an England international and well on his way to establishing himself as one of the best youngsters in the league.
Hull City: Calaum Jahraldo-Martin
In Hull City's ageing squad, 24-year-old Jake Livermore is about as close to a "youngster" as they have, but reserve attacker Calaum Jahraldo-Martin held plenty of promise on his joining the club last season.
Before joining Hull, the 21-year-old was at non-league sides Boreham Wood and Dulwich Hamlet.
Leicester City: Liam Moore
Liam Moore played a big part for Leicester City as they clinched promotion from the Championship to the Premier League last season, playing in the centre of defence.
The 21-year-old was a regular until about February when injury saw him lose his place in the side. Naturally, chasing promotion as they were, he found it tough to reestablish himself but still saw game time on either side of the back four.
This will be his first campaign in the Premier League.
Liverpool: Jordon Ibe
Liverpool have relied heavily on young players to supplement the first-team squad under the two-year reign of Brendan Rodgers, and Jordon Ibe looks set to be the next to make a big breakthrough.
Already having appeared for the first team three times in competitive action, Ibe is once again involved in the Reds' squad in pre-season this summer and has had a big impact against the likes of Brondby and AC Milan.
Extremely quick, with good dribbling ability and the vision to attack space well, if Ibe improves his final decision making with passes and, particularly, his finishing, he could certainly be another potent attacker for Liverpool to call upon this season.
Manchester City: Bruno Zuculini
Manchester City's spending is more commonly attracted to mid-20s, top-class players and the odd elder statesman to supplement the squad, but Bruno Zuculini is an interesting addition from Racing Club this summer.
The Argentinian midfielder can play a holding role as one of the double pivots in the centre of the park but gets forward to good effect with his powerful running and good passing range.
At 21 years old, he's likely to be a backup for the more established players this term, but don't bet against him taking his chance once it's handed to him.
Manchester United: James Wilson
Young forward James Wilson is still only 18, but debuted for United in the league last season and scored twice in the process.
B/R's Chris Atkins takes up the story for us:
It has been suggested that, were it not for injury, he would have been included in the club's touring party this summer and, therefore, should be a part of Louis van Gaal's wider plans for the season ahead. A natural finisher with fine instinctive movement, he could be a great asset given the creative talent around him.
Wilson is unlikely to be rushed into a major first-team role but has already proven to be a regular scorer at all youth levels. It will surely prove to be a season of adaptation ahead, but United under Van Gaal should afford a fine learning environment for a man of his abilities.
Newcastle United: Massadio Haidara
Newcastle left-back Massadio Haidara came close to establishing himself in the team last season after recovering from a knee injury at the beginning of the campaign.
Athletic and strong in the tackle, Haidara is a competent defender who can offer much more going forward than he has managed so far, largely as a result of Davide Santon blocking his path to a regular starting spot.
The French 21-year-old has played 15 times in the Premier League to date.
Queens Park Rangers: Michael Petrasso
QPR are another side who don't have too many youthful charges in their ranks, with Harry Redknapp largely bringing in veterans and former top-flight players to get his side up from the Championship last season.
Michael Petrasso is a teenage winger for Rangers who spent part of last season on loan at Coventry City and has since been handed a new long-term contract.
They have high hopes for him to eventually break into the first-team scene, and though he might struggle for game time this season in the 3-5-2 system, he is a longer-term option who has plenty of ability.
Southampton: James Ward-Prowse
Southampton's brightest star is almost James Ward-Prowse by default as he's about the only one they haven't sold!
Nowhere near true, of course, but the 19-year-old now has not only the opportunity but also the great motivation to step up and become the player the club want him to be: The supporters need a new hero to place their faith in and he has the capabilities to be that man.
Ward-Prowse has a good passing range, excellent set-piece delivery and a good shot from range. He needs to find more consistency to win himself a regular place in the starting XI.
Stoke City: Jack Butland
Stoke City don't have an abundance of young talents either, but in Jack Butland, they have the highest-rated young goalkeeper in the country.
Unfortunately, of course, he won't be playing much for the first team this season—Asmir Begovic has that position nailed down.
Nonetheless, Butland is a talented stopper who could yet get more game time by going on loan.
Sunderland: Charis Mavrias
Sunderland's Greek winger Charis Mavrias has the potential to make an impact for his team this season, though he is almost starting from zero again.
After featuring in four of their first five league games last term, Mavrias didn't play again for the rest of the Premier League season.
He has been featuring in pre-season for Guy Poyet's side, and the wide midfielder still believes he can make an impression, as per the Shields Gazette.
Swansea City: Jay Fulton
Scottish attacking midfielder Jay Fulton made his breakthrough at the end of last season with Swansea City, featuring in two of the Swans' last three games.
Playing from the right or the middle, he is a good technical player with plenty of energy and a good work ethic.
Fulton will likely play a bigger part this year after a full pre-season as part of the team, though at 20 years of age, he still has time on his side to improve further.
Tottenham Hotspur: Nabil Bentaleb
Nabil Bentaleb is Tottenham's biggest young prospect by far, considering he has already featured at a World Cup.
The Algerian midfielder made his breakthrough under Tim Sherwood last season and impressed at times in the holding central role, displaying his good array of passing and an ability to win back the ball, too.
It remains to be seen how much Mauricio Pochettino favours him as Spurs have an awful lot of central midfielders on their books, but Bentaleb can certainly be a part of their new-look side.
West Bromwich Albion: Saido Berahino
Quick point to note—Berahino has played more than 25 times for the Baggies in the top flight, on 32 occasions in fact, but many of those have been fleeting, late substitute appearances.
As a result, his game time amounts to just 1,400 minutes in the Premier League—around 15 "full games" and an indication of how much more he yet has to do to make it.
Fast, powerful and undoubtedly with good technique, Berahino has plenty of attributes to make the forward a big impact player this season.
Lack of consistency and perhaps application on the training ground, though, means he has work to do to have a big season at West Brom.
West Ham United: Ravel Morrison
There's little doubting the immense technical skill that Ravel Morrison holds in his locker—that's never been the problem.
Instead it is consistency, attitude and application that have hampered his career so far; despite being talked about as an England international by some, the fact is that he is 21 years of age and has made a grand total of 16 Premier League appearances.
Loan spells aren't going to cut it anymore, Morrison needs to work hard, find himself a role in West Ham's team as the creative, unpredictable playmaker and make a proper career out of the talent he has.
Unless otherwise noted, all quotes obtained firsthand.
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