Every season, Premier League fans are treated to some outstanding talented young football players are primed to take over the world of football. When given the chance to showcase their boundless potential, these young players’ legs scream maturity beyond their years.
When the body should be the weariest and the mind should be the slowest and most flawed to think, these youngsters have the personality to remain unbothered.
With the new Premier League season right around the corner, FootTheBall has compiled a list of 10 young football players to watch out for in the 2021-22 season.
While he is not yet a polished product, Tottenham’s Bryan Gil, 20, has the type of offensive potential that both thrills supporters and worries the opponents. Around £21.4 million ($29.4 million) and Erik Lamela were sent to Sevilla in exchange for the Spanish wonder, which speaks volumes about his potential.
We are delighted to announce the signing of Bryan Gil from @SevillaFC! 🇪🇸
Erik Lamela will join the Spanish club as part of the deal.
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) July 26, 2021
Bryan Gil is not an ordinary player. He belongs to another era. His hair is enough to suggest he could have been the fifth Beatle, and his football evokes nostalgia.
A pure dribbler, belonging to a vanishing breed of players, he is a pure specialist with a very marked strength – one-on-ones. The electricity of his moves, his quickness, his coordination, the use of his light body for feints, and the repetition of his dribbles make the most of his virtues.
Is he good enough for Premier League? It largely depends on his progression. To transform a pure dribbler into a global attacker who understands the collective game and delivers the final product, the right manager is required. Talking about the right manager, his abilities are in the competent hands of Nuno Espirito Santo.
Billy Gilmour, the Scottish prodigy, is primed to flourish for the newly promoted Norwich City this upcoming season. The Canaries signed him on a season-long loan earlier this month from Chelsea, with head coach Daniel Farke calling him a “perfect fit” for his squad.
📝 We can now confirm the season-long loan signing of midfielder Billy Gilmour from Chelsea!#WelcomeBilly
— Norwich City FC (@NorwichCityFC) July 2, 2021
Last season, the 20-year-old made 11 appearances for Chelsea, who finished fourth in the Premier League and won their second Champions League title. The midfielder also impressed for Scotland at Euro 2020, giving man of the match performance in their goalless draw with England in the second Group D encounter until his tournament was cut short due to a positive Covid-19 test.
Billy Gilmour’s game by numbers vs. England:
91% pass accuracy
6 ball recoveries
3/4 successful long passes
2 tackles won
A solid shift from the young man. 🏴👏 pic.twitter.com/LKQdKRg1Fc
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) June 18, 2021
With exquisite ball control, extraordinary passing range, bird’s-eye vision, a low centre of gravity to change direction in tight spaces, and dribbling mastery, Gilmour is one of the most aesthetically pleasing young midfielders you’ll find.
Following the departure of Gini Wijnaldum from Liverpool to PSG, Curtis Jones, 20, is expected to play a considerably larger role under Jurgen Klopp. Curtis Jones profited greatly from Liverpool’s injury concerns last season, featuring in the Premier League more regularly than he would have expected.
Jordan Henderson and Fabinho, Liverpool’s prominent midfielders, were forced to step in at centre-back when Virgil Van Dijk and Joe Gomez suffered season-ending injuries. Curtis Jones was charged with keeping the things running in the middle of the park and it’s fair to say he did a marvellous job.
He was a silent executor but was far from inconsistent. His exceptional skill, virtuoso technique, maturity, tactical acumen, superb reading of the game, and ability to be deployed in defence, midfield, and attack make him any manager’s fantasy footballer.
Patrick Vieira landed a treasure in Michael Olise as his first signing as Crystal Palace manager earlier this month. Last season, the 19-year-old attacking midfielder played an integral role for Reading, scoring seven goals and setting up 12 in 46 appearances, and was crowned EFL Young Player of the Season for his outstanding performances.
— Crystal Palace F.C. (@CPFC) July 8, 2021
Michael Olise was a constant in a year that saw many ups and downs with a fairly young Reading squad. He excelled every week despite being 18 (now 19) and competing against older players.
At just 19 years old, Reading's Michael Olise looks like he could be the next big thing to come from the Championship..
What a talent 🤩🤩🤩
— Footy Accumulators (@FootyAccums) January 18, 2021
Pacey, fluid movement and skill, precise short and long passing, tremendous personality, and remarkable inventiveness on both the wing and midfield, Crystal Palace have a golden talent under their belt.
Every league can produce great talents these days. While the top leagues are those with the highest average level, exciting young footballers that can move up the ladder and even become world-beaters can emerge in almost any nation. But France has gone a step further, producing the world’s best pool of youthful talent and directing it into top-flight football.
One of the latest to emerge from that pool is Boubakary Soumare. After helping Lille win the Ligue 1 title for the first time in a decade last season, the 22-year-old midfielder has been acquired by Leicester City for a fee believed to be around £17 million.
Adaptable, technical, and both quick and strong: Soumare is a powerhouse who has it all. Along with his poetic on-ball prowess, he possesses a distinctive drive, tenacity, and all-out attitude, all of which are on full display every matchday.
When he retrieves the ball, especially in the middle third, he frequently displays his most distinguishing feature: dribbling and ball carrying. The Frenchman possesses a deft touch while shifting the ball from one foot to the other and dodging challenges.
After failing to make his Premier League debut with Chelsea, Marc Guehi, 21, is set to make his top-flight debut with Crystal Palace under Patrick Vieira. Guehi spent last season on loan at Swansea City, where the centre-back had 40 outings under Steve Cooper throughout the regular Championship campaign before losing in the play-off final against Brentford.
— Crystal Palace F.C. (@CPFC) July 18, 2021
The 21-year-old excelled in two loan stints with The Swans and becomes Patrick Vieira’s third signing. There are few young centre-backs in the game as complete as Guehi who shows great aptitude in all the qualities you’d ask for in someone of his position: recovery speed, robustness, a firm tackle, aerial prowess, and an ability to stride forward and bring the ball out from the back.
💪 No player aged 21 or under had a better tackle success rate in England's top two tiers than Marc Guehi (84.6%) last season pic.twitter.com/p7YJHOv2SU
— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) July 15, 2021
Marc Guehi is system-proof, which means he does not only flourish in a specific habitat but can function in any template. This explains why the agreement with Chelsea includes future sell-on incentives, with the Blues entitled to match any future offers for the player.
Leicester City only added to their talent pool after they confirmed the signing of the exciting young striker Patson Daka from RB Salzburg. Leicester completed the signing of the 22-year-old Zambian striker in June, with a fee believed to be around £23 million.
— Leicester City (@LCFC) July 24, 2021
A striker was high on Brendan Rodgers’ list of priorities this offseason, and despite a number of attackers being linked to The Foxes, the forward remained their favourite pick.
Congratulations to RB Salzburg and Zambia's forward Patson Daka who has been named the 2020/21 Austrian Bundesliga Player of the Season!
Daka this season
Games – 42
Goals – 34
Assists – 12
Player of the season
— Carol Radull (@CarolRadull) May 25, 2021
With opponents close by, he may accelerate and gain one or two additional meters that did not previously exist. Aside from his insulting physical and coordinative superiority, he is innovative, attempts surprising things that feel like or maybe to show off, but he has the technique to execute them.
Then he has the flawless finishing to go along with the pace to trouble the opponents. Last season, he scored 34 goals in 42 games to help Salzburg win the Austrian championship.
Brentford broke their transfer record a week ago when they paid about £13.5 million to acquire center-back Kristoffer Ajer from Scottish club Celtic. Since landing in Scotland as a teenager, the 23-year-old blossomed into a consistent performer at Celtic Park and is now making the big step up to the Premier League.
Brentford’s current primary central defence hope is only 23 years old and not as physically intimidating, but he is the perfect modern embodiment of a player in his position. Far from being uneasy in the middle of the park, he excels at playing out from the back, with excellent ball control and passing range.
After 3 SPFL titles and 176 matches with Celtic, 🇳🇴 Kristoffer Ajer (23) joins Brentford. ✍️
Going to be a BIG piece of their first Premier League campaign since 1946. 🌟 pic.twitter.com/guTgN2xuss
— Football Wonderkids (@fbwonderkids) July 21, 2021
This does not, however, exempt him from being a specialist in defence owing to his anticipation and intelligence. His positioning is always on point to maintain a very high line, and his constant monitoring of the surroundings keeps him perfectly coordinated with his centre-back pairing.
Rayan Ait-Nouri, one of the world’s most promising young left-backs, enjoyed a fantastic loan spell at Wolverhampton Wanderers last year. His performance last season secured him a permanent move to Molineux and is poised to breakthrough this upcoming season.
Not only can the 20-year-old provide overlapping runs and take up all attacking responsibilities in his flank, but he can also join the midfield in build-ups to generate numerical superiorities. Such is his technical and also tactical quality that he can operate comfortably both out wide, and in tight spaces.
Nouri reunites the conditions of a winger and of a midfielder. He has excellent speed, acceleration, timing, dribbling, and crossing ability, plus he is a very gifted passer who has a deep understanding of time and space.
Trincao’s loan to Wolves last month was a straightforward one. The move to Barcelona was too much too soon. He is a classy and technically sound left-footed winger who once said he identified himself with Riyad Mahrez. But he is a long way from that unpredictability and variety of resources.
The 21-year-old couldn’t replicate his trademark moves from Braga in La Liga, with fewer spaces that demanded him to perform at a higher cognitive and technical speed. Who knows, perhaps a manager that gives him confidence could iron out his vices.
Deploying him on the left flank, for example, would restrict some of his virtues but could simplify his tasks and he could contribute more to the collective through his off-ball moves. His best position should continue to be on the right, but it’s about adding more substance to his game. He is a raw product, but the Portuguese possess a sky-high ceiling.