English football saw the emergence of several prospects last season with a wealth of young talent handed their opportunity in the Premier League, some of the division’s biggest sides providing chances to an emerging crop of precocious talent.
The current financial climate means that top-flight sides may have to look for internal solutions next season as they bid to improve, with this list of teenage talents hoping for more regular opportunities after breaking through in style last season.
Here are five exciting Premier League teenagers we hope can take their game up a level next season:
Billy Gilmour (Chelsea)
Frank Lampard won plenty of plaudits last season for his faith in Chelsea‘s best academy graduates, the west London side finally making use of an excellent youth system to integrate a whole host of prospects.
The likes of Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount and Reece James all made notable impressions after returning from loan spells away, but it was arguably the performances of Billy Gilmour which most caught the eye.
The Scotland youth international made his senior debut earlier in the campaign before shooting to prominence earlier this year, starring in victories over Liverpool and Everton and playing with a composure and maturity that defied his lack of experience.
Gilmour’s progress was halted after suffering a knee injury that curtailed his season and is expected to keep him sidelined until the winter, though he has quickly shown he has the talent to thrive in a packed midfield at Stamford Bridge.
Competition for places will be even fiercer next season following Chelsea’s expensive summer outlay, however, Gilmour’s fearless introduction to the Premier League has showcased he has the attitude and talent to continue making an impression.
Curtis Jones (Liverpool)
Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool secured an elusive Premier League title in record-breaking fashion last season and possess one of the best sides in club football at present, but hopes are high on Merseyside that academy graduate Curtis Jones can step up significantly next season.
The 19-year-old hit the headlines with a magnificent FA Cup winner against city rivals Everton in January, the youngster making 10 first-team appearances and scoring three goals during a breakthrough campaign at Anfield.
The Toxteth teenager is highly-rated amongst the club’s staff and has starred for the Reds at youth level, being named as the Premier League 2’s Player of the Season for his performances at U23 level last season.
Jones is a creative midfield talent capable of playing in a variety of attacking roles and will hope to fill the void left by Adam Lallana’s departure to Brighton, the midfielder’s increased status reflected after being handed the number 17 shirt ahead of the new season.
Jones’ poise in possession and ability in tight spaces can provide an added attacking impetus to a work-man like Liverpool midfield, the youngster regarded as the Reds’ best academy prospect in recent years.
Bukayo Saka (Arsenal)
Amongst a collection of promising talents at the forefront of Mikel Arteta’s rebuild of Arsenal, Bukayo Saka starred as one of English football’s best young players last season.
The 18-year-old is a wonderfully talented and unselfish player capable of performing admirably in a variety of positions, Saka bursting onto the scene in an unfamiliar full-back role before also showcasing his precocious abilities on either flank and in central midfield.
13 – Since the start of last season, only Kevin De Bruyne (22) and Trent Alexander-Arnold (15) have more assists in all competitions among Premier League players than Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka. Future. #ARSLIV pic.twitter.com/wDNSz5sZ65
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) August 29, 2020
The most notable bright spark of an otherwise disappointing Premier League season for the Gunners, Saka has been scintillating when attacking from his full-back role, providing a whole host of assists and scoring four goals during his first season as a regular in the senior side.
His decision to sign a new long-term deal at the Emirates is a huge boost for a player for whom international recognition seems inevitable, his omission from Gareth Southgate’s squad for this month’s Nations League fixtures against Iceland and Denmark coming as a surprise given his superb showings of late.
Mason Greenwood (Manchester United)
Arguably the breakout star of the 2019/20 campaign, Mason Greenwood is the most exciting talent to emerge from Manchester United‘s illustrious academy system in recent seasons.
The 18-year-old has forced his way into Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s starting side during a campaign in which he has demonstrated his frightening talent, scoring 17 goals in all competitions and showcasing a natural finishing ability rarely witnessed from a player his age.
Mason Greenwood’s first full season of senior football:
🔥 20 goal contributions in all competitions [17G 3A]
📚 Joint best single-season goal return by a teenager in Man Utd’s history
📈 Top scoring teenager in the PL
🏴 Called up to England’s senior squad
Starboy. 💫 pic.twitter.com/hNmSwQD8Lw
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) August 25, 2020
Greenwood has been likened to former Red Devils favourite Robin van Persie for his style and devastating left foot, though he is equally comfortable on his opposite side with his two-footed ability marking him out as a special talent.
His performances have seen him included in the senior England squad for the first time and he joins an exciting collection of attacking talent for the Three Lions, an emerging crop of players hoping to make an impression ahead of next summer’s European Championships.
Greenwood will hope to improve further on a season that saw him equal the record for most goals by a teenager in a single season for Manchester United, the youngster joining Wayne Rooney, George Best and Brian Kidd in hitting 17 goals, quite the illustrious company to keep.
Gabriel Martinelli (Arsenal)
Another of Arsenal’s teenage talents, Gabriel Martinelli looked to be one of the finds of the season following his initial impact at the Emirates, the Brazilian teenager making a huge impression over the opening months of the campaign.
Martinelli arrived as an unheralded signing from Brazilian lower league outfit Ituano FC but quickly settled in his new surroundings, scoring an impressive 10 goals in just 15 starts in all competitions and earning praise for his fearless approach.
🏆 Goal of the Season – 2019/20
🥇 1st place | Gabriel Martinelli v Chelsea 😊 pic.twitter.com/Pw1s9pJhKf
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) August 18, 2020
The 19-year-old remains raw but hugely talented, though it remains to be seen how he is utilised by Mikel Arteta with the duo reportedly at odds over the youngster’s best position. Martinelli has stated his preference for a wide role over a centre-forward position, though his versatility could prove useful to Arsenal as they bid to progress next season.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp hailed Martinelli as ‘the talent of the century’ earlier this season following the youngster’s performance at Anfield, whilst his stunning solo goal at Chelsea was perhaps the best evidence of his capabilities.
Injury has halted the momentum of a promising adaptation to English football, though he is expected to bounce back in fine style upon his return to full fitness.