Premier League: Predicting 5 Front Runners for Young Player of the Season
The Premier League season is up and running once again and the current stars did not take long to make a mark on the new campaign. Robin van Persie grabbed a brace, Lampard blasted a free-kick from 30 yards and Yaya Toure added free-kick taking to his long list of abilities.
Football is not just about the old boys, however, and at the end of every season we look back at what impact the younger generation of players had for their respective teams.
Now, let's reverse the process and look forward. The Premier League this season has plenty of young talent on show and these are the players I am predicting to be the front runners for the Young Player of the Season Award.
Liverpool's pre-season has been dominated by talk of Luis Suarez leaving and his importance to the Red's season. The Uruguayan will miss the start of the new season after biting Branislav Ivanovic last campaign, but who do Liverpool have to fill the void while he is not available?
Well, they have Daniel Sturridge who has found his form since joining Liverpool from Chelsea. They also have Philippe Coutinho, who will be one of Liverpool's most important players this season.
Brendan Rodgers is obviously taken away with the Brazilian midfielder, he is borderline smitten. But who can blame him? The Liverpool manager has already expressed his excitement over the partnership between Coutinho and Sturridge and his performance against Stoke in the Premier League opener was a sign of things to come.
The 21-year-old has all the tricks. He weights his passes almost perfectly, and his accuracy and vision leaves most midfielders his age envious. Coutinho also has magnificent dribbling ability and uses sometimes subtle drops of the shoulder to fool the opposition and soft control to make it look so easy.
It is not just what he does on the ball, though. The young midfielder also uses his seemingly limitless energy to track back and do everything his 5'7" frame is capable of to win back possession.
Liverpool has a gem among their ranks. A gem they bought for less than £9 million from Inter Milan. What was Inter thinking?
He will be up there with the best young players the Premier League has on show this season, but in the next five years you can be sure he will be considered one of the best in the world.
A lot was said about Oscar when Chelsea signed him. The London club had to cough up £25 million when he was just 20-years-old, an awful lot of money but his first season showed he could be worth the price-tag, if not more.
If the first game of the new season was anything to go by, then Oscar is going to be a major player in Chelsea's season. He is only one year older but at this rate of development the Brazilian could well end up being considered Chelsea's player of the season.
Oscar can dribble, pass and score goals. However, there is a particular aspect of his game which sets him apart from fellow countryman Coutinho and other players of the same position. It is his first touch.
This is not always an appreciated ability, but most of what Oscar or any player does is enabled by the right control. Zinedine Zidane was a master and can articulate the advantages much better than I can.
Oscar displays this ability in every game and his second goal against Italian side Juventus in last season's Champions League demonstrates this.
Oscar is part of Chelsea's very own 'Holy Trinity', which also includes Eden Hazard and Juan Mata, and still he is able to stand out. A great season lies ahead for the youngster, which could also culminate in becoming a World Cup winner.
Luke Shaw has pretty much everything a modern-day full-back (if you can even call them that anymore) needs. He has the physical attributes in size, but also the speed which aids him as both an attacking threat and a solid defensive option. He is English, as well, despite what his obvious technical skills tell you.
He won the penalty against West Bromwich Albion in the Saints' opener in a move which demonstrated this as he burst into the Baggies' area, holding off a couple of players in the process, before being toppled.
Luke Shaw has already caught the eye of other Premier League clubs but he has knocked them back for the moment by signing a new contract at St Mary's.
The South coast side are expected by some to break into the top half of the table in comfortable fashion and could even push toward Europa League places (although ultimately failing), but this would be considered a very successful season. Even with the new signings Dejan Lovren, Victor Wanyama and Pablo Osvaldo, Luke Shaw could still turn out to be the stand out player for Southampton.
It will be a big season for the 17-year-old and a call-up to the U-21 side is just around the corner. An award for best young player could be just 8 months away.
Look, it is another Englishman (Don't worry, I am as shocked as you are.)
Danny Welbeck is a good football player, he was last season and he will be this season. Do not confuse his lack of goals with not being good at playing the game of football. A lack of goals means he is not a good striker, but that will be the difference this season
The 22-year-old made his first real statement last season against Real Madrid in both legs of their Champions League last 16 tie. He scored an excellent header in the Bernabau and over the 180 minutes was Manchester United's best player.
For some reason this performance, and many others like it, were not enough to convince all of his footballing ability.
It is all goals, goals, goals these days. However, what we saw against Swansea, in pre-season, and in England's friendly vs. Scotland is Welbeck has now discovered one of the most important rules of being a striker. 'Be in the box.'
Not only has he stumbled upon this revelation, but he suddenly has the all important confidence in front goal which means he can pull off audacious chips like his second goal against 'The Swans'.
So, what do you get when you add excellent footballing ability with goals? You get a darn good player who will worry almost every defence this season.
Judging by what Welbeck has shown in front of goal so far, and what he has already shown in previous seasons, the English forward is certain to be a front runner for the end of season award.
Romelu Lukaku was nominated for the same award last season after an impressive debut Premier League campaign on loan at West Brom. He scored 19 goals for the Midlands team, but the 20-year-old Belgian is merely scratching the surface of what he is capable of.
He did not start against Hull at Stamford Bridge, but Fernando Torres did play poor enough to indicate there is a chance José Mourinho will get tired of watching the Spaniard soon enough. When that happens the returning Chelsea manager will have no choice but to release 'The Kraken'.
Lukaku has everything central defenders hate. He is bigger and stronger than most of them, so they cannot bully him. He is faster than most of them, so they cannot out run him. What can they do? Pray? May be.
And if that was not enough he has the dribbling skills to fool you and the composure in front of goal to finish off any attack.
With the service of Eden Hazard, Juan Mata, Oscar, André Schurrle etc there will be endless chances for this incredibly talented footballer to feed off. Young Player of the Season? May be even Player of the Season.