With more money in English football than ever before and a huge new TV deal on the horizon, talented youngsters often find it difficult to make their mark in a league where patience isn’t common. Having said this, several exciting prospects are getting regular playing time for their sides this season. Here’s a countdown of the top 10:
1. Ross Barkley
Everton man Ross Barkley is perhaps the most prodigiously talented English youngster since Wayne Rooney’s emergence in 2002. Last season he struggled with injuries and consistency, but this campaign he’s become regular in the no.10 position under manager Roberto Martinez. He’s expected to carry the hopes of both Everton and England in the years to come.
2. Romelu Lukaku
Barkley’s attacking team-mate Romelu Lukaku has been around for a long time, having already had spells at Chelsea and West Brom despite his tender years. But at the age of 22, two goals in Everton’s 4-0 win over Aston Villa at the weekend saw the Belgian become just the fifth player to reach 50 Premier League goals at such a young age. He’ll be hoping to emulate the other four players on the list, which includes Cristiano Ronaldo, in the years to come.
3. Anthony Martial
It seems strange to include Manchester United striker Anthony Martial on this list, simply because he cost the club, depending on who you believe, around £30-50 million in the summer. But at just 19, the Frenchman already has a Player of the Month award to his name, as well as looking devastating in front of goal so far this season.
4. Dele Alli
Tottenham’s talented midfielder Dele Alli has already established himself for both club and country this season, despite playing in the 3rd tier of English football last season. The box-to-box midfielder has benefited from his manager’s faith in youth, and looks as close to an international replacement for legend Steven Gerrard as England fans could wish for.
5. Hector Bellerin
With Arsenal ravaged by defensive injuries last season, Spanish youngster Hector Bellerin stepped in at right-back and hasn’t relinquished his place in the team since. He’s become a vital part of the Arsenal back four, and is rumoured to be the quickest player at the club – some feat in a team also containing Theo Walcott.
6. James Ward-Prowse
Southampton have produced some of the finest youngsters the Premier League has seen. Gareth Bale, Theo Walcott, Adam Lallana and Luke Shaw all came from the South coast club’s academy. James Ward-Prowse has featured for the club on a regular basis in recent years, and at just 21, looks to have a big future for club and country.
7. Reece Oxford
Reece Oxford became West Ham’s youngest ever Premier League player earlier this season. This is even more impressive considering the Hammer’s history in producing young talent, with the likes of Rio Ferdinand, Joe Cole and Frank Lampard all starting their careers in East London. The defensive midfielder will be looking to get more game time as the campaign goes on.
8. Gerard Deulofeu
Spanish winger Deulofeu scored five times in two games for the Spain U21s in the recent international break, and is looking like a better player every time he pulls on the blue of Everton. Roberto Martinez has recently revealed a buy-back clause as part of his transfer from Barcelona, and will be hoping that the Catalan giants haven’t been watching too closely.
9. Ruben Loftus-Cheek
Ruben Loftus-Cheek has, unusually for a side managed by Jose Mourinho, been given several chances in the Chelsea first team this season. Still only 19, the young Englishman is undoubtedly talented, but may have to make a move away from Stamford Bridge to reach his true potential.
10. Eric Dier
Eric Dier is one of several hungry Tottenham youngsters beginning to make their mark on the Premier League. This season he’s moved forward into a holding midfield position, and has already appeared for the England senior teams aged just 21.