Each Premiership Side's Youngster Ready to Set the League Alight Next Season

Allan JiangTransfers CorrespondentApril 4, 2012

Each Premiership Side's Youngster Ready to Set the League Alight Next Season

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    Every Premier League season, a promising youngster is promoted into the first team and show glimpses of class. 

    Naturally, the club's supporters expect that youngster to transition into a Premier League standard footballer or perhaps a world beater. 

    This article will list each Premiership side's youngster that could set the league alight next season. 


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20. Gregg Wylde, Bolton Wanderers, Left Winger, Age: 21

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    Season Summary

    Gregg Wylde voluntarily departed from Rangers after the club went into administration. He was in and out of Ally McCoist's first team. 

    Current Status

    Wylde has yet to play for Bolton Wanderers because FIFA haven't cleared the signing. 


    Unlikely to win a starting position over Ryo Miyaichi or Martin Petrov. 

19. Shane Ferguson, Newcastle United, Left-Back, Age: 20

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    Season Summary

    Shane Ferguson has spent the season on the outer looking in. 

    Current Status

    Ferguson needs to forget about playing in midfield because there is no way he's breaking into the team as a midfielder. 


    His development has stagnated since his Man of the Match displays against Stoke City last year.

    He'll need to beat out Ryan Taylor and Davide Santon to start at left-back.

    Even if Ferguson does, he might be considered second choice to Jonás Gutiérrez, who played left-back on the weekend. 

    Other Notes

    Regarding Santon, I don't think he actually wants to be in England. This was a guy touted as the next Paolo Maldini, instead Santon has been about par and sometimes even below-par.

    Wouldn't surprise me if he went back to Italy. 

18. Craig Dawson, West Bromwich Albion, Centre-Back, Age: 21

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    Season Summary

    Craig Dawson started three games in a row at the start of the year.

    He was poor in a 3-0 loss to Swansea City but it was his debut. Played his best game in a 2-1 loss to Norwich City, where he asserted himself and made four tackles. 

    Current Status

    Dawson hasn't played a Premier League game since January 21. He's unlikely to break the Gareth McAuley-Jonas Olsson partnership unless one of the two goes down with injury.


    Dawson is still unproven at Premier League level. He could be given a chance next season if Olsson decides to force a move away from West Bromwich Albion. 

17. Ryan Shotton, Stoke City, Right Winger, Age: 23

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    Season Summary

    Is Ryan Shotton a right-back or a right winger? He has started 10 games on the right this season. I first noticed him when he took advantage of Ben Foster's schoolboy error early in the season. 

    Current Status

    Shotton has been warming the Stoke City benches for the last three games. 


    I don't rate him as a defender nor do I rate him as a winger. He only completes 15 percent of his crosses, compared to Jermaine Pennant's 31 percent and Matthew Etherington's 26 percent. 

16. Daniel Ayala, Norwich City, Centre-Back, Age: 21

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    Season Summary

    A knee injury ruined Daniel Ayala's start to the season. He's a strong tackler but susceptible against pacey players. As evident when he couldn't deal with Jerome Thomas in a 2-1 win over West Bromwich Albion. 

    Current Status

    A hamstring tear has ruled him out since February. 


    Considering Ayala can tackle and pass, he will be a valuable player to most teams in Europe. 

15. David Davis, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Centre Midfielder, Age: 21

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    Season Summary

    Long-term injuries to Emmanuel Frimpong and Jamie O'Hara allowed David Davis an opening into the first team. 

    He lacks the experience of Karl Henry, but Davis is more disciplined in the tackle than Henry. 

    Henry has made 32 tackles but conceded 27 free kicks. Whereas Davis has made 10 tackles and only conceded one free kick. 

    Current Status

    Played three games last month and looked promising. On the weekend, it seemed he gassed out towards the end of the game in the 3-2 loss to Bolton Wanderers. 


    If Wolverhampton Wanderers are relegated, Davis will regularly start in the Championship. 

14. Ross Barkley, Everton, Centre Midfielder, Age: 18

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    Season Summary

    David Moyes has only played Ross Barkley eight times with 50 percent of those coming off the bench. 

    Last year, teammate Tim Cahill said Barkley was the best young player he had ever seen. 

    Current Status

    Barkley has voiced his frustrations at not playing. 


    There's a lot of hype surrounding Barkley but he hasn't justified it yet. 

    Other Notes

    Apostolos Vellios has looked decent off the bench. He's also been scoring regularly for the reserves, so he may have an impact next season. 

13. Gary Gardner, Aston Villa, Attacking Midfielder, Age: 19

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    Season Summary

    Gary Gardner was the pick of the bunch at the NextGen Series, and for me, was the second best player at the tournament (behind Jean Marie Dongou, who was sensational). 

    I was very impressed that Gardner took over the game against the much vaunted Ajax side and scored a hat trick. 

    Current Status

    Gardner was anonymous against Chelsea but he's still young. Once he becomes more familiar with senior football, he should turn out to be a solid player. 

    This is assuming the Gardner I watched at the NextGen Series replicates his form at senior level. 


    With Aston Villa dragged into a relegation scrap, Alex McLeish under serious pressure and the sad news of Stiliyan Petrov's retirement (get better Stan), Gardner should feature in the next eight games. 

12. Kerim Frei, Fulham, Left Winger, Age: 18

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    Season Summary

    Kerim Frei has started three Premier League games whilst making six sub appearances. 

    I had no idea who he was until he ran the show against Chelsea in the Carling Cup. 

    Current Status

    Clint Dempsey starts out wide, but the American plays his best centrally. As long as Dempsey is scoring goals from the left, Frei will have to be contempt with watching and learning. 


    Frei is nimble, tricky, loves to run at defenders and is generally looking to play forward passes.

    Has potential to become one of the best players in the league. 

11. Rubén Rochina, Blackburn Rovers, Right Winger, Age: 21

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    Season Summary

    Rubén Rochina has shown moments of class like a stunning goal against Stoke City. However he has found it hard to consistently start games. 

    Current Status

    He hasn't played 90 minutes in the Premier League since November. 


    I like Rochina because he has the technique (as you'd expect from a former La Masia student) and he works extremely hard. 

    He has made more tackles than completed dribbles. 

    I'm confused as to how someone of his talent hasn't been maximised by Steve Kean. 

    Rochina should move back to La Liga if  Blackburn Rovers get relegated. 

10. James McCarthy, Wigan Athletic, Centre Midfielder, Age: 21

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    Season Summary

    James McCarthy has started 26 games for Wigan Athletic and has been one of their most consistent players. 

    Current Status

    Doing his best to help his team avoid relegation. 


    You can tell that McCarthy has already played six seasons of professional football because he is so composed in possession. 

    He completes 86.3 percent of his passes, has made 69 tackles and completes 78 percent of lofted passes. 

    He has proven he is Premier League standard but can he become of the best midfielders in the league? Will a move to a bigger club help him achieve that feat, and if so, would a bigger club sign him? 

9. Samba Diakité, Queens Park Rangers, Centre Midfielder, Age: 23

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    Season Summary

    Samba Diakité's name has been in the headlines for good and bad. A red card against Fulham was rectified with a winning goal against Arsenal. 

    Current Status

    He's on loan from Nancy, and I'd be surprised if Queens Park Rangers didn't sign him permanently. 


    Diakité is a cross between Cheik Tioté and Abou Diaby. 

    Tioté-like because Diakité commits so many unnecessary fouls. Diaby-like because the QPR midfielder can glide past opposing players with ease. 

    If Diakité plays lights out for the rest of the season, Nancy may be able to hold an auction for him. 

8. Paul Pogba, Manchester United, Centre Midfielder, Age: 19

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    Season Summary

    I love you, I love you not.

    That's the situation between Paul Pogba and Manchester United. Now that I think about it, maybe the reason why he hasn't played that many games is because of his agent. 

    Why play Pogba when he might leave in the summer? 

    Current Status

    Sky Sports reported that Pogba has agreed to sign a new contract in March, but it's now April and there has been no news confirming Sky's report. 

    One can only assume that contract negotiations fell through as usual. 


    Clearly he shouldn't be playing in the reserves because he's good enough to play at a senior level. 

    When he has played, he has completed 95.3 percent of his 85 passes and completed 100 percent of his long passes. 

    I still need to see more before reaching a conclusion. 

    Regarding the possibility of moving to Juventus, does he want to play or earn a bit of extra cash? 

    Pogba signing for Juventus would be a stupid decision because he won't start in front of Andrea Pirlo, Arturo Vidal or Claudio Marchisio, who have been the engine room in Juve's unbeaten Serie A campaign. 

    If Juve do sign Pogba, they'll loan him out to a mid-tier Serie A side, Pogba plays excellently and Juve sell him for a profit.  

    Other Notes

    Tom Cleverley has the ability but his injury issues will be a concern. 

    Could Ezekiel Fryers start ahead of Patrice Evra next season? 

7. John Guidetti, Manchester City, Centre Forward, Age: 19

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    Season Summary

    The large majority of experts took no note of John Guidetti's loan to Feyenoord. 

    Unless you're Guidetti's girlfriend, no-one expected him to score this many goals—19 goals and eight assists in 21 games. 

    Here is a teenager scoring goals for fun in front of De Kuip. 

    Current Status

    I was more than impressed when he scored a hat trick against Ajax. I thought it was a nice gesture from Ronald Koeman to sub Guidetti off in the last minute, allowing him to receive a standing ovation. 

    Though against Waalwijk, Guidetti was sent off after receiving a second yellow card for taking his shirt off. 10 minutes later, Waalwijk equalised and Feyenoord dropped two points. 

    Two days ago, Koeman said Guidetti was too selfish, which is odd considering the Swede does have eight assists this season. Too selfish would be zero assists. 


    I predict that Manchester City will hold an auction for Guidetti because they can make a substantial profit off his excellent season. Why bring him back to City when the forward line is already packed? 

    Assuming the  £400 million from Etihad Airways is considered improper by UEFA, City will be under duress from the financial fair play rules. 

    Selling Guidetti, who is probably not going to start, for £15-20 million would be great business. 

    If only he was English, Liverpool would spend £35 million+ on him. 

6. Steven Caulker, Tottenham Hotspur, Centre-Back, Age: 20

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    Season Summary

    Steven Caulker has established himself at Swansea City and is a much better player than Garry Monk.

    Caulker belongs in the Premier League and typifies what a successful loan is. 

    The youngster adapts in a new environment, beats out more experienced players to start, and then goes back to his parent club with invaluable experience.

    It's much better than sitting on the bench at Tottenham Hotspur or playing in the reserves. 

    Current Status

    He didn't play against Spurs because of the loan deal, and they won 3-1 because Monk is a weak link. 


    Caulker has a bright future at Spurs because Ledley King cannot play every game, Michael Dawson may not recover from his long term injury and William Gallas is not getting any younger. 

    The fact Caulker completes 86 percent of his passes shows how composed he is. He has won back possession 56 times but I'm more impressed with his positional awareness than his ball-winning ability.

    He's also blocked 19 shots, which indicates he's willing to put his body on the line.

    It wouldn't surprise me if he became one of the best centre-backs in the league in the next few years.  

5. James McClean, Sunderland, Left Winger, Age: 22

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    Season Summary

    James McClean came out of nowhere, and has looked like a seasoned professional.

    Current Status

    McClean is the undisputed starter at left wing and hasn't been subbed off in the Premier League since January. 


    He's a good dribbler, an underrated tackler and a good engine.

    He does need to be more efficient in possession as he only completes 70.7 percent of his passes, and has a dire 19 percent successful cross completion rate. 

    He has the ability to become one of the best wingers in the league. 

4. Joe Allen, Swansea City, Defensive Midfielder, Age: 22

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    Season Summary

    Joe Allen has been the unheralded player at Swansea City.

    So consistent, has high football IQ, knows where to move, excellent passer, can attack and also defend. 

    Current Status

    Allen, Gylfi Sigurðsson and Leon Britton are perhaps the most efficient trio in the Premier League.  


    I don't expect Sigurðsson to return to Swansea because Hoffenheim will sell him to the largest bidder. 

    All Allen needs is more goals and more assists and he would be a world class midfielder. 

3. Sebastián Coates, Liverpool, Centre-Back, Age: 21

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    Season Summary

    When fit, the partnership between Daniel Agger and Martin Škrtel is probably the best in England.

    So it's understandable why Sebastián Coates hasn't been given an extended run in the team.

    Current Status

    Coates has elevated himself above Jamie Carragher as the reserve centre-back. Mainly due to Carragher's poor form. 

    Coates scored a golazo against Queens Park Rangers. 


    Coates has yet to play to the same standard he did at the Copa América because he hasn't been given a chance. 

    I ranked him as the sixth best player during the tournament and remember, he was only 20. 

    If Agger goes down with a long-term injury, I'm confident that Coates will excel. 

    Other Notes

    Raheem Sterling, Jonjo Shelvey and Martin Kelly should be given more opportunities next season. 

2. Romelu Lukaku, Chelsea, Centre Forward, Age: 18

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    Season Summary

    The way Chelsea have treated Romelu Lukaku has been an absolute disgrace.

    No wonder Chelsea always have to spend big instead of promoting and nurturing youngsters into world class talent like Arsenal and Manchester United. 

    Considering what an awful time Lukaku has experienced, I'm surprised he didn't join Billy Clifford and Jacob Mellis in setting off a smoke grenade at the Cobham training ground.  

    Current Status

    Lukaku has gone 10 games without scoring but he's only played 303 minutes, which is about the equivalent of three games and a half. 

    For the reserves, he has scored seven goals and provided two assists in eight games. 


    Give Lukaku five straight starts and he will prove how good he is.

    There was a time when John Terry was more likely to score than Didier Drogba and Fernando Torres, so it's incredible that Lukaku hasn't been given a chance. 

    I'm hoping he starts next season as a centre forward but I believe he'll go out on loan to some non-Premier League club because Chelsea always make stupid decisions. 

    If you're going to loan out Lukaku, loan him out to Stoke City or another team in the Premier League. 

    Other Notes

    I'm intrigued at the possibility of Lucas Piazón playing next season. 

    Josh McEachran has hardly played for Swansea City but should come back with invaluable experience. 

    I've watched Jeffrey Bruma at Hamburg and he's been terrible. 

    Gaël Kakuta looked lively for Dijon against Montpellier. Aside from that game, haven't watched enough of Kakuta's loan spell. 

    Thibaut Courtois has been great for Atlético Madrid (except against Barcelona), but he won't be returning to Chelsea anytime soon. 

1. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Arsenal, Left Attacking Midfielder, Age: 18

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    Season Summary

    Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is so explosive and so talented. Only the English would question if he deserves a place in the Euro 2012 squad. 

    If he was German, he would have already played 10 games for the national team. 

    Current Status

    Arsène Wenger used to always give the excuse that his players were young and now that he has a precocious youngster, he doesn't start him every game. 


    Chamberlain is the only player on this list that I know will set the league alight. He has world-class written all over him. 

    Other Notes

    From what I've seen of Francis Coquelin, he could become a world-class defensive midfielder if he is given a chance in that position. In the Premier League, he has completed 27 tackles and intercepted the ball 15 times in return for only four fouls. 

    Jack Wilshere should return to his best next season. 

    Ryo Miyaichi has been threatening on the wings for Bolton Wanderers. Could be a good impact sub for Arsenal.

    How about Joel Campbell on loan at Lorient? I watched him in a 2-1 loss to Marseille a few months ago and wasn't impressed. Haven't had the chance to see him regularly since. 


    Please read All-Time UCL Best XI

    Statistics courtesy of WhoScored.com and Transfer Markt.  

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