With the 2018/19 Premier League campaign up and running, most of the talk has centred on how the high-profile signings will fare.
However, even with England’s top flight shelling out a ridiculous £1.24 billion on new players, we are still likely to see plenty of talented youngsters showcase their skills on the big stage.
Here are ten to watch out for this season.
Callum Hudson-Odoi – Chelsea
With a new man at the helm, Chelsea’s youngsters will be hoping for more opportunities in the first team this term. Following a string of impressive displays during pre-season, fans are particularly enthused by the talents of winger Callum Hudson-Odoi. In the absence of Eden Hazard, the 17-year-old was given plenty of time to express his game to Maurizio Sarri.
He was handed a couple of cameo appearances by previous boss Antonio Conte last season and enjoyed a fruitful campaign with the U23’s.
The tricky wide-man has pace to burn and is brimming with confidence, having helped the England U17 side to an historic World cup win last summer. Though Hazard is a certainty to remain first choice on the left for ‘the Blues’, expect Hudson-Odoi to get minutes in the Europa League and cup competitions over the next nine months.
Brahim Diaz – Manchester City
Since arriving in Manchester two years ago, Pep Guardiola has spent over £500 million on new signings. It’s been an exciting time for City supporters, but the influx of superstars from around the globe must have had a somewhat disheartening effect on the club’s young players.
What it does mean, however, is that those who do emerge into Manchester City’s first team must be pretty special. That is certainly the case with Brahim Diaz, a Spanish playmaker who joined from Malaga as a 16-year-old.
Now 19, he continues to make progress in his push for a regular role with Guardiola’s high-fliers. To date, Diaz has made 12 appearances for ‘the Citizens’, all of which have come under his compatriot. The 5ft 5” midfielder is exceptionally quick with his feet and confident in front of goal.
He has represented Spain at U21 level and despite also being eligible to play for Morocco, Diaz is viewed as one of Los Rojas finest prospects.
Matteo Guendouzi – Arsenal
Despite Arsene Wenger’s 22 year reign as Arsenal manager coming to an end in May, one of new head coach Unai Emery’s first signings at the helm is rather typical of his predecessor. After showing glimpses of talent for Ligue 2 Lorient last season, 19-year-old Matteo Guendouzi was snatched up by the Gunners for around £8 million.
A holding midfielder, he was seen by most supporters as one for the future. However, after featuring in every pre-season game and displaying his passing range and confidence on the ball, there is a growing feeling that Guendouzi could conceivably force his way into Emery’s starting XI before too long.
Formerly a part of the PSG academy set up, he is a raw talent with plenty to work on and it remains probable that the France U20 international will start the campaign as understudy to the more experienced Granit Xhaka. But if Xhaka continues to underperform at the Emirates, it appears he will finally have genuine competition for his spot.
Oliver Skipp – Tottenham Hotspur
Finishing the transfer window as the only team in the Premier League not to strengthen has left many Tottenham supporters and pundits concerned that Mauricio Pochettino’s side would struggle to keep up with their closest rivals, let alone bridge the 23 point gap with champions Manchester City. On a more positive note, though, the failure to improve from the outside-in presents the club’s young players with the chance to breakthrough.
During Pochettino’s time in North-London, he has succeeded in nurturing talents such as Dele Alli, Eric Dier, Davinson Sanchez, as well as academy graduates Harry Kane and Harry Winks. He’ll be hoping the next crop of youngsters has as much potential and, although just 17 years old, Oliver Skipp may be the next to make his mark.
The central midfielder is excellent at reading the game and breaking up the opposition’s play. He is also superb with the ball at his feet, always looking to find teammates further forward with penetrative passing.
The base of the midfield is arguably Spurs’ weakest area of the team at present and with Moussa Dembele ageing and Eric Dier struggling to build on early promise, Skipp could be afforded some opportunities in the near future.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka – Crystal Palace
When Frank de Boer began an ultimately infamous spell at Crystal Palace playing with a back three, local lad Aaron Wan-Bissaka was given the chance to impress at right wing-back. The 20-year-old had spent the previous season transitioning from winger to full-back with the U23’s and after Roy Hodgson took over from de Boer, he continued to excel in a more defensive role. An England U20 international, Wan-Bissaka played every pre-season game for Palace ahead of the new campaign and appears favoured to Joel Ward.
He is aggressive in one v one’s, unphased by pressure and like most modern fullbacks, very comfortable going forward. Wilfried Zaha spoke about the youngster’s development earlier this year, noting how difficult an opponent Wan-Bissaka is in training, and everyone at Selhurst Park is excited about the duo linking up throughout the coming season.
Reiss Nelson – Arsenal
While the first team pursued the top four before the turn of the year, Arsenal’s reserves and youth players were given a chance to play in the Europa League. Reiss Nelson was one of the academy graduates to gain experience in the competition, along with Joe Willock, Eddie Nketiah and Ainsley Maitland-Niles.
At the time, Wenger was persisting with his back-three project, meaning Nelson and Maitland-Niles were forced to play at wing-back, an unnatural position for both players. Nelson in particular struggled to display his qualities. He did, however, continue to perform for the U23’s, helping them win the Premier League 2 title.
With Emery now in charge, Nelson was given the chance to prove his worth this summer and did just that, scoring twice and assisting three times. Though capable of playing more centrally and providing the team’s creative threat, he is also capable of hugging the touchline and beating his man before crossing.
Now 18-years-old, the England youth international could be set for a break-out season after the club failed to sign a more experienced winger.
Ryan Sessegnon – Fulham
Perhaps the most exciting player on this list, Ryan Sessegnon has enjoyed an incredible start to his career. Over the past two seasons, the wide-man has scored 23 times, helping Fulham return to the top flight in the process.
Having begun as a left-back, manager Slavisa Jokanovic has since moved him further forward to take advantage of his vision, final ball, and coolness in front of goal.
Still just 18 years old, it remains to be seen if Sessegnon can transfer his championship form to the Premier League, having been awarded both the Player and Young Player of the Season.
However, given that he will be playing week-in week-out, in a system that suits his abilities, no one should be surprised to see him become a full England International before long, and perhaps the subject of sizeable bids from the top six.
Ethan Ampadu – Chelsea
Having made his first-team debut for Exeter as a 15-year-old, Ethan Ampadu went on to impress in League 2 throughout the 16/17 season, attracting interest from a host of top clubs in England and abroad.
The gifted teenager settled on a move to Chelsea and, perhaps surprisingly given the club’s reputation in recent years, was used seven times by Antonio Conte last term. Ampadu is comfortable playing both in central midfield and at the heart of defence, and as of yet it remains uncertain which role will become home.
His passing range and composure in possession are the most impressive elements of his game. Despite representing England at U16 level, he ultimately opted to play for Wales and has earned two caps.
Under new coach Maurizio Sarri, he is expected to continue featuring sporadically for the time being but the future appears very bright for Ampadu. His father, Kwame, also played professionally and now coaches the Arsenal U18s.
Phil Foden – Manchester City
Born in Stockport, Phil Foden joined Manchester City as a nine-year-old. Last season, he became City’s youngest Champions League player and went on to make five League appearances as Pep Guardiola’s side stormed to the title.
The previous summer, he joined Hudson-Odoi in lifting the World Cup with England U17s and it appears only a matter of time before he gets a phone call from Gareth Southgate.
Despite his short stature, the 18-year-old is a gifted technician and is seen as a possible heir to Citizens legend David Silva.
His creativity, resistance to opponent pressure and long range shooting are what stand out and supporters at the Etihad are expecting big things from their local hero. City failed to add any midfielders during the window, which could see Foden and Diaz the beneficiaries.
With an abundance of natural talent, and arguably the greatest coach in world football, Foden is well-placed to become a regular for club and country over the next few years.
Domingos Quina – Watford
Given his eye-catching performances for Portugal’s youth sides, it came as something of a shock to many when Domingos Quina was deemed surplus to requirements by new West Ham manager Manuel Pellegrini.
Even more surprising considering one of the club’s interested in signing him was reported to be Barcelona. However, the rumours are that his agent fabricated the interest in an attempt to get his client a better contract at The London Stadium.
In the end, the 18-year-old to joined Watford for a fee of £1 million on deadline day. An attack-minded midfielder, he always wants to be on the ball and has a habit of scoring spectacular goals.
Previously at Chelsea, the Guinea-Bissau born youngster is yet to make his Premier League debut but is expected to see more opportunities at Vicerage Road.
There has been talk of attitude problems and so he will have to dispel those doubts early on if he’s to earn regular game-time with the Hornets.