20 Premier League Youngsters Who Would Benefit from B-Squad Setup
The Football Association’s commission into developing home-grown players was unveiled on Thursday, and among its proposals was the introduction of a new “League Three” that would include Premier League “B squads” by 2016-17.
What the commission didn’t provide was quantitative proof that such an arrangement would actually improve the development of up-and-coming players, although similar structures in Germany and Spain have worked to the advantage of big clubs, such as Bayern Munich, Barcelona and Real Madrid.
Now, assuming that a B-squad setup would work as FA chairman Greg Dyke has suggested, who are some current players who would stand to benefit?
The following slideshow will look at 20 of them.
20. Gedion Zelalem, Arsenal
Germany-born Gedion Zelalem has trained with the Arsenal youth academy since 2011 and has played for his country’s U-15, U-16 and U-17 sides.
A robust B-squad system could be just the thing for the 17-year-old, who is considered to be one of the Gunners' better midfield prospects.
19. Luke Garbutt, Everton
Everton’s Luke Garbutt was loaned to Colchester United at the start of the season but was recalled to Goodison Park in January.
The England U-20 left-back has since made just a single substitute appearance for manager Roberto Martinez’s senior side.
18. Callum Robinson, Aston Villa
Callum Robinson is an Aston Villa forward with two goals in two England U-19 matches.
The 19-year-old has made four substitute appearances so far this season—three in the Premier League and one in the Capital One Cup.
17. Tom Lawrence, Manchester United
Tom Lawrence made his senior Manchester United debut on Tuesday against Crystal Palace.
He didn’t look at all out of place, but some extra seasoning in a B squad would only help this Wales U-21 international.
16. Jordan Archer, Tottenham Hotspur
Goalkeeper Jordan Archer joined Tottenham Hotspur back in 2009 and has since been loaned out to both Bishop’s Stortford and Wycombe Wanderers.
He has also played regularly for the Scotland U-21s but is yet to make his Premier League debut for Spurs.
15. Chris Long, Everton
Merseyside born and bred, Chris Long joined Everton’s academy as a five-year-old and has since progressed through the underage ranks of the English national setup.
The 19-year-old striker spent a month on loan at MK Dons back in January, scoring once in four matches.
14. Sam Gallagher, Southampton
Devon-born Sam Gallagher played three matches for Scotland’s U-19s before switching to the England U-19s in February, when he made his debut against Turkey.
He has started three matches for Southampton this season and has come off the bench an additional 14 times and scoring once.
13. Andre Wisdom, Liverpool
Liverpool’s Andre Wisdom is one of England’s brighter defensive prospects (primarily a right-back, he can also play across the back line) and has represented his country at U-16, U-17, U-19 and U-20 levels.
After featuring in a pair of Premier League matches for the Reds, he went on loan to Derby County, where he has started 34 matches.
12. Michael Keane, Manchester United
Michael Keane has scored three times for the England U-21s and found the back of the net on a further three occasions while on loan at Blackburn Rovers this season.
The Manchester United forward, 21, has made FA Cup and Capital One Cup appearances for the Red Devils but is yet to be handed his Premier League debut.
11. Nathan Ake, Chelsea
The versatile Nathan Ake can function both as a centre-back and a deep-lying midfielder, and last season he made his Premier League debut for Chelsea as a 17-year-old against Norwich City.
Now 19, Ake is a Netherlands U-21 international and has represented his country in every underage category.
10. Emyr Huws, Manchester City
Earlier this year Emyr Huws made his senior debut for Wales, but he has yet to be given a similar honour at Premier League level for Manchester City.
He has, however, represented the club in the FA Cup, and in 17 matches on loan at Birmingham City; this season he managed a pair of goals.
9. Gael Bigirimana, Newcastle
Gael Bigirimana arrived in England as a refugee in 2004 and spent six years in Coventry City’s system before moving to Newcastle in 2011.
He made his Premier League debut for the Magpies in August 2012, but he hasn’t featured in the top flight at all this season.
8. Ryo Miyaichi, Arsenal
Ryo Miyaichi started a pair of matches for Arsenal in the Capital One Cup this season and has also come off the bench on one occasion in the Premier League.
The Japanese international, 21, has gone on previous loan spells to both Wigan and Bolton Wanderers.
7. Tomas Kalas, Chelsea
Late last month, Tomas Kalas made his full Premier League debut as Chelsea beat Liverpool 2-0 at Anfield.
A full Czech Republic international, the 20-year-old is still a ways down the pecking order at Stamford Bridge.
6. Jack Butland, Stoke City
Stoke City goalkeeper has played a full season of football in 2013-14, albeit at Barnsley and Leeds.
One of England’s top young ‘keepers, the 21-year-old might suddenly become the No. 1 at Britannia Stadium if a big offer comes in for Asmir Begovic.
5. James Wilson, Manchester United
James Wilson is now a household name after his Tuesday brace for Manchester United against Crystal Palace.
But with a new managerial team expected to arrive at Old Trafford during the summer, the 18-year-old will likely struggle for a first-team place.
4. Saido Berahino, West Bromwich Albion
With six goals in five matches for the England U-21s, Saido Berahino is one of his country’s brightest attacking prospects.
The 20-year-old has started 10 games for the Baggies this term, scoring five times and may well find himself in a starting role next season.
3. Serge Gnabry, Arsenal
Arsenal are likely to pursue a big-name striker during the summer, which means 18-year-old Serge Gnabry could suddenly find himself without a lot of Premier League playing time.
The Germany U-19 international has shown some spark for the Gunners this season and opened his top-flight goal-scoring account against Swansea back in September.
2. Jordon Ibe, Liverpool
Jordon Ibe only turned 18 in December, and his performances during Liverpool’s preseason schedule marked him out as a top-level prospect for the future.
The England U-19 international has already made his Premier League debut, and he also spent some time on loan at Birmingham City this term.
1. Wilfried Zaha, Manchester United
He is erratic, immature and in danger of having his development not only stall but also go up in smoke.
In other words, Manchester United’s Wilfried Zaha is exactly the sort of player the FA commission’s B-squad system would be intended to help along, and no doubt the 21-year-old would benefit from the guidance of a bolstered developmental setup while playing at a competitive level against his peers.
Zaha has spent the second half of the current season on loan at Cardiff City, where he has been a massive disappointment.