It’s just a matter of days until we see our beloved Premier League returning to our TV sets. The ongoing transfer market has well and truly made the 2020/21 season all the more interesting, but the growing perspective of believing in youth is set to make the upcoming campaign one to keep an eye on.
Right from Mikel Arteta to Ole Gunnar-Solskjaer, the young guns have flourished right on level with the seniors to a greater extent. And so, as we approach another enthralling Premier League season, we look at five teenagers who are tipped for greater success this campaign.
William Saliba (Arsenal)
Arsenal have had their issues in defence last season, having conceded 48 goals last season (third-most amongst the top 10), but the arrival of Gabriel Magalhaes and the return of William Saliba is set to release the pressure in one way or another. With a host of options to choose from, manager Mikel Arteta is set to have that sweet selection headache, while Saliba, personally, will undergo an uphill task of justifying why the Gunners paid £27m for his services.
Signed from Saint-Etienne in the summer of 2019, Arsenal decided to loan him back to France, a decision that worked wonders as he not only impressed but also helped Saint-Etienne reach the Coupe de France. Strong with the ball at his feet and extremely competent in one-on-one situations, 19-year-old Saliba is expected to be one of Arteta’s main men in defence this season.
Mason Greenwood (Manchester United)
Manchester United’s new No. 11, Mason Greenwood is tipped for greatness after an exhilarating return of 17 goals in 49 appearances in the 2019/20 season, which made him the first player aged 18 or under since Michael Owen (1997/98) to score 10+ goals in a Premier League season.
A forward with quick-feet and unmatchable finishing abilities for his age, the soon to be 19-year-old will be one of United’s most potent weapons in an already electric and young attacking setup. Greenwood is someone who is never afraid of having a go at goal regardless of the distance, and that, coupled with his ability to weird equal power in both feet, further makes him a potential danger for the opponent.
With the likes of Bruno Fernandes, Paul Pogba and now Donny van de Beek supporting him from the back, expect Greenwood to surpass his tally of the previous season this campaign.
Curtis Jones (Liverpool)
A fantastic curling effort from some 20-odd yards in Liverpool’s FA Cup tie against Everton in January this year made 19-year-old Curtis Jones the youngest goalscorer in a Merseyside derby since Robbie Fowler (18 years and 338 days) in March 1994. This time last year, most of the Liverpool fans had never heard of the talented midfielder, but as things stand, he is rightly tipped to provide healthy competition for a place in Jurgen Klopp’s first team.
"A proper Scouser," as Klopp described him when he faced Borussia Dortmund in the International Champions Cup in North Carolina ahead of the 2018/19 season, Jones has continued the rich vein of form after providing two assists during Liverpool's 7-2 win over Blackpool last week.
Being able to play on multiple positions across the midfield gives Jones a perfect edge as he heads into the new season. He is strong, confident and always wants the ball at his feet; a trait that represents a burly character. He is certain to make an impact next season.
Fabio Silva (Wolves)
18-year-old forward Fabio Silva became Wolves’ latest import from Portugal after the Wanderers decided to splash a club-record £35m for the teenager. Dubbed the ‘new Cristiano Ronaldo’, Silva began his career in the youth team at Porto in 2010 before moving to Benfica in 2015. Two years later, he came back to Porto and has been with the team since.
Spending £35m for a player who has a mere 21 senior appearances to his name rightly seems like a gamble, but judging by how the Portuguese media has rated him during the short tenure, it looks like he is worth the penny. Portuguese journalist Andre Monteiro likens Silva to Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino, saying that the teenager is someone who likes to make clever movements around the area, and loves to lay dangerous passes to his teammates.
“When he receives the ball, he knows where the goal is, he knows the movement needed to create space to take a shot,” says Monteiro.
“I think he’s a natural, of course he has to work, like any player, but he’s a natural.”
Bukayo Saka (Arsenal)
Recently turned 19-year-old Bukayo Saka took the Premier League by storm last season after ending his tenure with a return of four goals and a whopping 11 assists. Appreciated for his versatility, Saka was deployed in multiple positions by Arteta last season, and the youngster didn’t disappoint a single bit. Direct with his approach, Saka impressed one and all with his splendid dribbling abilities, and we can expect more of the same in the coming season.
This time around though, Saka could well and truly be given a more advanced role in order to provide sufficient services to the likes of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette. Tipped as Arsenal’s biggest prospect since Cesc Fabregas, Saka will be given the stage to perform, and it is safe to say that the 19-year-old won’t disappoint even a single bit.
Feature image courtesy: Twitter / @Wolves, AFP / Gareth Fuller