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Ranking the best u-21 players in the Premier League

There’s some brilliant young talent in the Premier League right now with several starlets beginning to make their mark on the division. We’ve attempted to rank the best players aged 21 or under in the Premier League.

10. Romeo Lavia – Chelsea

Romeo Lavia’s career with Chelsea has gotten off to a false start, with the 20-year-old making one short-lived appearance in a debut season wrecked by injuries. Chelsea will hope Lavia can overcome his fitness battle as the West Londoners look to develop a talent who starred at Southampton last season.

Lavia made his senior debut for Belgium in March after shining despite the Saints’ relegation, showing mature poise and press resistance at the base of the midfield.

9. Rico Lewis – Manchester City

Pep Guardiola called Rico Lewis one of the best talents he has ever coached earlier this season, and who are we to argue with the Manchester City manager?

“What a player. What a player. 18 years old. I have been a manager for 14, 15 years training unbelievable players,” Guardiola said after Lewis stole the show against RB Leipzig.

“To find a player like him playing in the pockets, how he has to move in holding midfield, full-back coming inside moving in the spaces – he is one of the best I ever trained by far.”

Still just 19, the adaptable academy graduate made his England debut in March and has a tactical understanding and versatility that could see him rocket up this list.

8. Levi Colwill – Chelsea

Levi Colwill’s composed performances on loan at Brighton made the defender hot property in the summer, though Chelsea secured the defender down to a new long-term contract.

Hopes are high that Colwill can follow John Terry’s path in spending the best years of his career in the Blues’ backline, with the left-sided centre-back confident and progressive on the ball. He has spent much of the season operating at full-back and will hope for more regular minutes in his preferred central role.

7. Alejandro Garnacho – Manchester United

Alejandro Garnacho was the star of Manchester United’s FA Youth Cup success in 2022, before graduating to the first team under Erik ten Hag. An encouraging first season saw the teenager score five goals in all competitions, a return the Argentine has already bettered in 2023/24.

Garnacho has five goals and two assists in the Premier League this season, the highest goal involvement from players under 21. Recent games have shown an encouraging understanding with Rasmus Hojlund and Marcus Rashford in a youthful and mobile frontline.

6. Ryan Gravenberch – Liverpool

It’s easy to forget that Ryan Gravenberch is still just 21, given a career that has seen the Dutchman win multiple league titles across spells at Ajax and Bayern Munich. Gravenberch signed for Liverpool in the summer as part of the Reds’ midfield rebuild and has scored three times in 28 appearances this season.

While his performances have fluctuated during a mixed first season at Anfield, the potential of Gravenberch – technical, tall and dynamic – is clear.

5. Destiny Udogie – Tottenham

Tottenham boast one of the most exciting full-back pairings in the Premier League right now with Destiny Udogie and Pedro Porro thriving in Ange Postecoglou’s adventurous team.

The former has been introduced to the side this season after spending last term on loan at Udinese and has adapted brilliantly to the demands of the Premier League. Udogie remains raw and mistakes have been made, but he possesses all the attributes of a modern full-back. His regular raids down the left flank and inversions into midfield have been a feature of Spurs’ style this season.

4. Evan Ferguson – Brighton

Brighton have banked some astronomical fees in recent transfer windows and Evan Ferguson looks set to be the next name to generate a giant profit. The Irish teenager is on the radar of every elite side in England after his exciting emergence on the South Coast, with Ferguson equalling Wayne Rooney’s record for Premier League goals by a teenager in a calendar year in 2023 (11).

The 19-year-old hit his first top-flight hat-trick earlier in the campaign and despite a recent dip in performances will be a transfer target for several sides in the summer.

3. Jeremy Doku – Manchester City

Jeremy Doku’s dancing feet have delighted Manchester City supporters since he arrived at the Etihad in the summer, with the Belgian bamboozling Premier League full-backs for much of the season.

Doku is electric at his best, as evidenced by a stunning showing against Bournemouth in November, as the winger scored once and provided FOUR Premier League assists. That return makes up 71% of his overall goal involvements this season which shows a need for greater consistency, but there’s an unstoppable element to Doku’s game that promises big things.

2. Rasmus Hojlund – Manchester United

Manchester United broke the bank to land one of Europe’s emerging forwards last summer, agreeing a £72m deal to sign Rasmus Hojlund from Atalanta.

Hojlund had just one season of top-five league experience and only nine goals before his move to Manchester, in a transfer that represented a gamble for the Red Devils. The Denmark international has scored 10 goals in all competitions to date during an encouraging campaign at Old Trafford, however, including five in the Champions League’s group stage.

After a slower start in the Premier League, Hojlund has hit four goals in his last four games, increasing in confidence and composure to go alongside the sharpness shown without end product earlier in the campaign.

1. Cole Palmer – Chelsea

Cole Palmer has been a revelation in an otherwise drab season for Chelsea, perhaps the singular positive in a campaign of mediocrity. Eyebrows were raised at the £42.5m fee last summer, given Palmer’s lack of minutes at Manchester City, but the 21-year-old has proven to be an inspired signing.

The versatile forward has scored 10 goals in 19 league appearances for Chelsea and 12 in all competitions, emerging as the West London side’s leading goalscorer and the lock-picker of defences. Full of confidence in the final third, he was recognised for his performances with a senior England debut during November’s internationals and is pushing for a place in the Euro 2024 squad.

Palmer has more levels to go and can drift in and out of games currently, though his rapid progress in a dysfunctional Chelsea team shows the ceiling of his potential.

Read – Premier League Team of the Week – Matchday 23

See more – Premier League weekend: Five things we learned

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