Premier League fans have long held an affinity with players who emerge from within their own ranks, with academy graduates often willed on to succeed much more than your average players.
The emergence of a genuine star from within a club’s own youth system can save millions in the vastly inflated world of transfer fees and generates a massive buzz amongst supporters, so we’ve decided to look at the best players currently starring for the teams who nurtured them from a young age.
The Premier League’s best homegrown XI:
Goalkeeper: Dean Henderson – Manchester United (On-loan at Sheffield United)
Whilst he may not quite be starring in his parent club’s colours just yet, Dean Henderson remains very much a Manchester United player and has produced some impressive performances on loan at Sheffield United this season.
The England U21 international has played a key role in the club’s brilliant start to life at Premier League level, with only title challengers Liverpool and Leicester possessing a better defensive record than Chris Wilder’s side at present.
Henderson faces a difficult task to dislodge David de Gea at Old Trafford in the long-term, but should the 22-year-old maintain his current level of development, he will have high hopes of making a breakthrough for both club and country.
Right-back: Trent Alexander-Arnold – Liverpool
Is there a better attacking full-back in world football at present?
The Liverpool local has emerged as one of the most potent weapons in Jurgen Klopp’s side’s armoury, having broken the assist record for a defender in the Premier League last season with his fine delivery from wide areas.
“Alexander-Arnold was sublime. His range of passing from right-back is a thing of beauty. His calmness, his physical strength, his ability to cover the ground allow him to dominate his flank. He sees the whole picture from inside his own half.” 😍
— Anfield Watch (@AnfieldWatch) November 11, 2019
Possessing sublime technique, the 21-year-old is able to hugely influence games from right-back, and alongside teammate Andy Robertson has helped alter perceptions of a previously unpopular role.
The youngster still has much to do to improve his play defensively, though he remains a vital player for the runaway league leaders at present and is rightly regarded as one of the best prospects in world football.
Centre-back: Lewis Dunk – Brighton
The Brighton captain has made more than 250 appearances for the club since being handed his debut in 2010, helping the club to promotion to the Premier League and bringing a defensive solidity as the Seagulls have cemented their position in the top flight.
A commanding presence at the heart of the defence, the 27-year-old earned international recognition with a first cap for England in a friendly victory over the United States in November 2018.
Further international recognition is yet to come for the central defender, though he has impressed once again this season under new management at the Amex Stadium and could prove an option in what has proved to be a problem position for Gareth Southgate’s side.
Strongly linked with a move to Leicester during the summer, he remained with Brighton where he continues to be a key figure under Graham Potter.
Centre-back: Fikayo Tomori – Chelsea
One of an emerging crop of Chelsea youngsters handed their opportunity under Frank Lampard this season, the defender has quickly established himself with his pace and power making him a difficult matchup for any Premier League forward.
Tomori’s fine form in the opening weeks of the season saw him rewarded with a call-up to the senior England side, making his debut in a Euro 2020 qualifier against Kosovo last month.
The 21-year-old starred during a loan spell in the Championship with Derby County last season before seamlessly making the step-up to Premier League level, and despite still being raw and losing his place in recent weeks, the youngster looks set for a huge future at Stamford Bridge.
“I think play Tomori!” 👏
“I like him. He’s calm, he’s never on his backside. Play him with Maguire.”
“The predicament is they both like to play left. All CB’s have a preference.”
Danny Murphy says it’s time Fikayo Tomori starts for England this week. 🏴 pic.twitter.com/zrQ0bXHpfO
— talkSPORT (@talkSPORT) November 13, 2019
Chelsea’s youth system has long been one of the best in the country, and it is now beginning to bear fruit.
Left-back: Ben Chilwell – Leicester
Now firmly established as England’s first-choice left-back, Chilwell continues to grow in stature in a Leicester side that has taken the Premier League by storm this season.
The 22-year-old is part of an exciting young Foxes side currently flying high at the top of the division, his name continuing to be linked with some of the league’s biggest sides ahead of the coming transfer window.
Manchester City and Chelsea have both been strongly linked with the player, though it will be difficult to prise the Milton Keynes-born Chilwell away from the King Power Stadium as Leicester embark on an unlikely title challenge.
Ben Chilwell weighed in with 3 assists for England this evening!
Just how good is the Leicester left back? 🤔 pic.twitter.com/wW8VckDFR8
— 90min (@90min_Football) November 14, 2019
Solid defensively and a threat going forward, Chilwell has fine delivery from both set-pieces and open play. Perhaps only Liverpool’s Andy Robertson is ahead of him of current Premier League left-backs, which is quite some compliment.
Midfield: Harry Winks – Tottenham
Understated and perhaps underrated, Tottenham’s Winks is comfortable in possession and can dictate the play from a deep-lying midfield role.
The 23-year-old has been likened in style to Spanish icons Xavi and Andres Iniesta by former Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino, and whilst they may be lofty comparisons, Winks is a player happy to receive the ball in difficult areas of the pitch.
The academy graduate will now seek to prove himself as a key figure under the management of Jose Mourinho, the Portuguese having arrived at the club last month with grand ambitions of winning silverware with the North London side.
Having joined the club at just six years of age, Winks is likely to grow in stature as Tottenham prepare for a rebuild following a difficult start to the season.
Midfield: Mason Mount – Chelsea
The second of Lampard’s lads to make our XI, midfielder Mount has flourished at Premier League level this season following an impressive loan spell in the Championship under the now Chelsea boss at Derby last term.
The 20-year-old has started all but one of the club’s Premier League fixtures so far, scoring five goals and catching the attention of England manager Gareth Southgate who has handed the midfielder six caps since his debut earlier this year.
Mount would score his first international goal in the qualifying win in Kosovo last month, and despite a difficult period recently at Chelsea is likely to be an inclusion for next summer’s European Championships.
A player capable of drifting into dangerous positions and scoring goals, Mount has the perfect tutor to continue his development in Lampard.
Midfielder: Jack Grealish – Aston Villa
Having remained at Villa Park despite opportunities to return to the Premier League, the Aston Villa captain would help his boyhood side to promotion before playing a key role in their start to life back in the top flight.
Versatile and creative, Grealish’s form has sparked talk of a senior call-up for England, with only Leicester’s James Maddison having created more chances than the 24-year-old amongst English players so far this season.
Grealish’s attacking output has also improved with four goals and four assists to his name so far, Manchester United being strongly linked with a move for a player capable of playing in midfield or as part of a front three.
Forward: Marcus Rashford – Manchester United
It’s worth remembering that Marcus Rashford is still just 22-years-old, given that the Manchester United forward is now in his fifth season as a first-team player at Old Trafford.
In that time the Wythenshawe-born star has scored over 50 goals for his boyhood side, winning the FA Cup, League Cup and Europa League in the process.
Lightning quick, powerful and skilful, Rashford is very much a modern forward capable of fulfilling a variety of role across the front line and seems to be on an upward curve of improvement.
Marcus Rashford has more goals than Cristiano Ronaldo after 127 Premier League games at Man United 👀 pic.twitter.com/qLCmqOEWiJ
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) December 13, 2019
The forward is currently in the goalscoring form of his career and has hit 13 goals in all competitions for the season so far, also adding a further four assists as his all-round game continues to develop.
Forward: Tammy Abraham – Chelsea
Having developed his game with three loan spells away from the club, Tammy Abraham was handed his chance at Chelsea this season and grasped it with both hands.
The forward has thrived in Frank Lampard’s developing side, with only Leicester’s Jamie Vardy having scored more than his 11 league goals so far as the youngster has established himself as an early contender for the Golden Boot.
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) November 15, 2019
Senior recognition has followed with England, the 22-year-old scoring his first goal for his country in the Euro 2020 qualifying win over Montenegro at Wembley last month, and Abraham will hope to cement his place in the squad for next summer’s European Championships over the coming months.
A formidable physical presence and quick over the ground, Abraham is ideally suited to leading the line as an attacking focal point and is likely to continue thriving at Premier League level.
Forward: Harry Kane – Tottenham
Hard to imagine now, but there weren’t many people convinced that Harry Kane would be the latest star to emerge from the Tottenham academy.
The young forward would experience loan spells at four clubs, enduring mixed fortunes at teams such as Leyton Orient, Millwall, Norwich and Leicester, before breaking into the side in the 2014/15 season and developing into one of world footballs’ finest forwards.
The 26-year-old has scored 179 goals in just 272 appearances for the North London side, winning two Premier League Golden Boot awards and a PFA Young Player of the Year award.
His talent and temperament saw him appointed England captain, where he has scored 32 goals in just 45 caps, including top-scoring at the 2018 World Cup where he became just the second Englishman after Gary Lineker to win the tournament’s Golden Boot.
Likely to surpass a whole host of goalscoring records in the coming years, Kane is the first name on the team sheet in our homegrown XI.