English Premier League: Top 25 Young Players of 2011
The Premier League produces some of the best young talent European and world football has to offer.
From the likes of Wayne Rooney and Michael Owen, to Gareth Southgate and Sol Campbell, the English top flight has provided much talent on the domestic and international stage.
And with the Euros coming up in the summer, these names will be some that could catch the eye.
Here's a countdown of the top 25.
25. Fabrice Muamba (Bolton)
The young midfielder, a product of the Arsenal youth system signed for Bolton in 2008, and has gone on to make over 120 appearances for the club.
Following on from a good 2010, Muamba has built on his form and impressed throughout 2011.
24. Junior Hoilett (Blackburn)
The pacey winger has been one of the stand-out performers for Blackburn this calender year, with a move to a bigger club looking likely in the summer window, if not in January.
23. James McCarthy (Wigan)
The skillful midfielder, signed from Scottish club Hamilton in 2009, played well towards the end of last season and has kept his place in the Wigan first team so far this campaign.
22. Marc Albrighton (Aston Villa)
Albrighton has been at Villa since the age of 9, and has worked his way up through the ranks to the first team, where he now holds down a regular place.
Long tipped to do well on the domestic stage, Villa will be hoping he can continue to develop in the coming months to fill the quick shoes vacated by Ashley Young and Stewart Downing.
21. Jordan Henderson (Liverpool)
After completing his £16m transfer from Sunderland in the summer, Henderson has shown in glimpses why Kenny Dalglish rates him so highly.
20. Barry Bannan (Aston Villa)
The pocket-sized Scot possesses a wide range of skills and a great passing ability, leading Gerard Houllier (then manager of Villa) to compare him to Barcelona aces Xavi and Andres Iniesta.
Since making his Villa debut in 2010, Bannan has struggled to cement his place in the team, but with the potential he has it won't be long before he's one of the first names on the team sheet.
19. Victor Moses (Wigan)
After Crystal Palace went into administration in January 2010, Wigan snapped up young Moses for a mere £2.5m.
With pace abound, and a good range of tricks in his arsenal, the future looks bright for the England youth international.
18. Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal)
The Welsh international has really stepped up to the plate this campaign, helping to fill the void left by Cesc Fabregas in the summer.
Since returning from a months loan at Cardiff earlier in 2011, he has established himself as a first team regular, supplying five assists so far this season.
17.Scott Sinclair (Swansea)
The former Chelsea youngster signed for Swansea in the summer of 2010, for an initial £500k.
He was an integral part of the Swans promotion from the Championship last season, and he will need to be a key player again if they are to survive their first season in the Premier League.
16. Wojciech Szczesny (Arsenal)
The young pole, who's father was also a Polish international keeper, has single-handedly solved Arsenal's goalkeeper crisis.
With Almunia, Fabianski and Mannone the only other options for Arsene Wenger, he can count himself somewhat lucky that Szczesny has turned out to be so reliable.
15. Danny Welbeck (Manchester United)
The all-round front man has impressed for the Red Devils this campaign, after enjoying a successful loan spell at Sunderland last season.
His form for the Black Cats led to his first international cap in March, and he featured twice more for England in 2011.
14. Jack Rodwell (Everton)
The defensive midfielder has impressed on Merseyside since making his debut in 2007 at the age of 16, and rumours are circulating that a move to Manchester United could be imminent.
2011 saw Rodwell make his international debut, coming on as a substitute in November's friendly against Spain, and three days later making his first start for England versus Sweden.
13. Tim Krul (Newcastle)
The young Dutch keeper, who previously endured loan spells at Falkirk and Carlisle before breaking into the Newcastle side, has been a revelation this season.
In June of this year, Krul made his international debut, keeping a clean sheet against Brazil.
12. Seamus Coleman (Everton)
Coleman has been a consistent performer for a side that have found it difficult to be consistent in recent seasons.
His form last season led to him being nominated for the PFA Young Player of the Year award, alongside the likes of Joe Hart and Samir Nasri.
11. Kyle Walker (Tottenham)
Even at the age of 21, Walker could be described as something of a journeyman.
A product of the Sheffield United youth system, he was shipped out on loan to Northampton Town in 2008, before signing for Tottenham, after which he was loaned back to Sheffield Utd, and to QPR and Aston Villa.
This season however, he has established himself in Harry Redknapp's first team, and gives a good balance to the team with his blistering pace, mirrored on the left by Gareth Bale.
10. Theo Walcott (Arsenal)
The England international has promised much for a long time, but never really delivered on a consistent basis.
This campaign however, Walcott has cemented his position in the Arsenal starting XI with a good string of performances, supplying four goals and five assists so far.
9. Micah Richards (Manchester City)
Similar to Kyle Walker (11th on the list) Richards has struggled for consistent form in the early part of his career.
Despite making his England debut in 2006, and his City debut in 2005, he hasn't been able to hold down a place in either until this season.
Now a regular in Mancini's first team, he has supplied five assists and one goal in his 13 appearances so far this campaign.
8. Juan Mata (Chelsea)
After four successful years at Valencia, where he played alongside David Villa and now-City maestro David Silva, Mata signed for Chelsea in the summer of 2011.
After signing on with the Blues he revealed that fellow Spaniard Fernando Torres had persuaded him to come to London, stating that they could work well together.
With five goals and nine assists from 16 games, Villas Boas will be more than happy with the new mans' contribution.
7. Mario Balotelli (Manchester City)
Not many people would agree with the statement that Mario Balotelli has been one of the most entertaining players in 2011, both on and off the pitch.
A raft of incidents (the bib, the fireworks, the 'why always me' shirt etc) have somewhat overshadowed his on-pitch contribution.
Last season his performances were a bit disappointing, but this campaign he has already scored 11 times, and Mancini will be hoping he continues his development.
6. Javier Hernandez (Manchester United)
The little mexican, who signed from his home team Guadalajara in summer 2010 for a reported £8m, has impressed greatly in his time at United.
13 goals in 27 gameslast season were not enough to earn him a nomination for the PFA Young Player award in his debut season, surprisingly.
Despite a few niggling injuries this campaign, Hernandez has contributed six goals in 15 appearances and 2012 could be an exciting year for the 'Little Pea'.
5. Phil Jones
Club: Manchester United
A product of the Blackburn Rovers youth system, Jones signed for the Red Devils in the summer, for a reported fee of at least £16.5 million.
The centre-back had only really broken into the Ewood Park first team in the previous season, but since his move to Old Trafford he has shown just why Sir Alex was so eager to sign him.
A string of excellent performances in a number of positions has brought him to the forefront of the Premier Leagues prospects, and with a place in England's Euro 2012 squad seemingly in the bag, it looks like Jones has a bright future ahead of him.
4. Sergio Aguero
Club: Manchester City
Manchester City's marquee signing of the summer transfer window, Aguero found his form quickly, and has already netted 13 times in 17 Premier League appearances this season.
His stocky build and dynamic play has earned him comparisons with South American legends Romario and Maradona, as well as City bad-boy Carlos Tevez.
Having enjoyed successful spells at Independiente and Atletico Madrid, where he single-handedly dismantled Barcelona in 2008, and having earned 33 international caps already, Aguero is definitely one to watch.
3. Jack Wilshere
The battling midfielder has been brought up through the Arsenal ranks. He was given his debut in 2008 at the tender age of just 16, whilst still on a youth contract.
It wasn't until last season, however, that he cemented his place in the first team alongside the now-departed Cesc Fabregas.
In the summer, while on England duty, Wilshere suffered a stress fracture to his ankle and has been unavailable for selection since.
Reports following his surgery suggested he would not be back until January/February of 2012, and Arsene Wenger and the Arsenal fans will be eagerly anticipating the tireless midfielders return.
2. Daniel Sturridge
Having been on the books at Aston Villa from the age of nine, Daniel Sturridge was always tipped to become a star.
He signed for Manchester City from Coventry in 2003, but failed to make an impact after being given his first professional contract in 2006, and consequently signed for Chelsea in 2009 when his contract expired.
Following a productive loan spell at Bolton during the first half of 2011, scoring eight times in 12 games, Sturridge has been given his chance in the Blues' first team by Andre Villas-Boas.
With nine goals in 14 appearances, he is practically an automatic starter for Chelsea this season, and his form doesn't look like cooling down soon.
1. Gareth Bale
Club: Tottenham Hotspur
Signed from Southampton in 2007, Bale has gone on to become one of Europe's brightest prospects, after switching from left-back to left wing.
With the pace of a 100m sprinter (he revealed in an interview that he ran the 100m in 11.4 seconds, at the age of 14) and a wand of a left foot, Bale has torn many defenses to shreds in the past 12 months.
Voted PFA Player of the Year 2011 by his peers, and with eight goals and five assists from 18 appearances this campaign, he could well win it for a second consecutive season.
One of the main reasons Spurs are flying high in the league, the sky seems the limit for this talented Welshman.
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