English football keeps getting younger and younger. If last week's friendly victories proved anything, the future of the Premiership is in its young starlets, as Phil Jones, Kyle Walker and Jack Rodwell all impressed against Spain and Sweden.
Here's a few other British up-and-comers expected to make waves in the Premiership over the next few seasons, and some possible and rumored destinations come January or over the summer, be they permanent signings or on loan spells. As always, all rumors should be taken with a grain of salt or two, and if you have any thoughts on where these future prospects should end up, as always, have at it in the comments.
Everton's 20-year-old midfielder Jack Rodwell has emerged as a player to watch this season, even earning his first international start in England's friendly victory over Sweden. With buzz like that, it's only natural Rodwell will attract bids from big names, and the International Business Times is reporting that Manchester United are planning a £25 million bid for Rodwell at the end of the season, and given the Toffees' recent financial woes, the club may struggle to hold on to him. The report says European play could be a factor in bringing Rodwell over to Old Trafford.
Chelsea and Manchester United are also reportedly looking to bring on £30 million Everton's rising 17-year-old midfielder Ross Barkley. Everton's Tony Hibbert compared Barkley to another Toffee-turned-Traffordian: Wayne Rooney.
As he put it:
“Ross is a bit more level-headed. He's also bigger. Potential-wise I think he is up there with Wayne.
I don't know if he's a central midfielder or if he is like a No.10 off the forward or on the wing. He has got the feet, the dribbles. With Ross I think you could develop a team around him really, he's that good."
As such, Hibbert stressed the importance of David Moyes and co. holding on to Barkley, but we'll see what happens in the next couple of transfer windows.
Both starlets are full of potential will likely end up starting at Anfield in the seasons to come, but in order for them to develop, Reds could send them out on a loan spell soon.
Bolton Wanderers manager Owen Coyle is reportedly attempting to convince Kenny Dalglish this is a good idea, as his club is sitting second from the bottom of the Premier League and potentially looking for new blood to revitalize the club and keep them in the first division.
According to SportsVibe, Coyle is hoping to repeat the past success of English up-and-comers on loan spells with Arsenal's Jack Wilshere and Chelsea's Daniel Sturridge by bringing 18-year-old right-back Jon Flanagan and 16-year-old winger Raheem Sterling on loan spells. Flanagan has already impressed in senior squad performances and Sterling is considered one of the Liverpool youth setup's most exciting prospects.
As with Sterling and Flanagan, Josh McEachran is a teen that looks to have a future in top-flight English football, most likely at the Stamford Bridge, but a January loan move to allow him to develop looks like an ever-increasing possibility.
McEachran has impressed in early appearances for Chelsea, among them a start in the Blues' 2-1 Carling Cup win over Chelsea at the end of October. The 18-year-old, in who Andre Villas-Boas sees the potential to take on a role similar to Luka Modric or Samir Nasri, still needs some time to develop though, and one club that may be looking to give him opportunities on the pitch is Swansea City. Villas-Boas has yet to make McEachran available, but Swansea manager Brendan Rogers seems determined to bring on the midfielder, who signed a long-term contract with Chelsea over the summer.
As Rogers told the press:
“He is a wonderful talent and the positive thing is that clubs see Swansea as a club that can develop such talents.
I think Andre (Villas-Boas) and (sporting director) Michael Emenolo understand he will need to get some games and when that moment comes he is certainly a player who would do terrific here.”
The 19-year-old defender first impressed while captaining the Seagulls' youth squads, and made his senior debut to much fanfare at the end of last season, even helping contribute to Brighton & Hove's promotion to the Championship. Since then, he's become a regular, broken into the England U21 squad ahead of the European Championship qualifiers and generated the interest of some of the Premiership's top-flight clubs.
And Seagulls manager Gus Poyet says he's accepted the prospect of parting with his promising young defender as he potentially moves to the Premiership:
“I am ready for that, when you are a club like us you always have chances of losing players.
If they pay, they can take him. I am not going to stop him from taking a step to a bigger club.”
Although according to a report from TribalFootball from late October, Poyet warned the top-flight clubs they could be paying a more sizable fee for "Dunky."
The 18-year-old Birmingham City keeper's profile has been rising after a string of stellar performances while on loan at Cheltenham Town, earning five clean sheets in nine appearances.
Sunderland's Steve Bruce reportedly plans to make a January offer for Butland of about £1 million, especially as the Black Cats' primary keeper Simon Mignolet and backup Craig Gordon are both out with injuries, and Sky Sports is reporting that Arsenal and Manchester City are also interested.
Birmingham City manager Chris Hughton has been trying to dispel rumors of a transfer for Butland, telling the Birmingham Mail:
"But he is also a lad who very much showed his intentions some weeks ago by signing a long-term contract here.
We are delighted to have him, we're delighted to keep working on his development and all that Jack has on his mind is one day representing his club between the sticks and we very much look forward to that."
Hughton did however hint at the possibility of another loan spell for Butland, depending on the timing and how the young keeper develops.
The 19-year-old Ivorian-born Crystal Palace striker has generated quite a bit of interest from Premiership clubs after a string of impressive performances with the south London Championship side, scoring a few goals and providing a number of assists.
Liverpool and Arsenal have expressed interest in Zaha, and Stoke City are reportedly preparing a swap deal of £3 million and experienced striker Ricardo Fuller in exchange for the teen's talents. As Crystal Palace, currently in 9th place in the Championship, shoots for promotion, they may want to hold on to the starlet, and Liverpool and Arsenal seem likely to set their sights elsewhere come January, but the Stoke deal may be a possibility.
Now that the Neymar deal has fallen through, it looks as though Real Madrid will be pulling out all the stops to acquire world football's top young starlets. Spanish sports publication Marca, which has a long-standing relationship with Real Madrid, leaked a document from the club called "Operation Madrid 2014," which included a list of up-and-coming stars the club plans to target, including Borussia Dortmund's Mario Götze, Athletic Bilbao's Iker Muniain and Arsenal starlet Jack Wilshere.
With Wilshere still out with an ankle injury for a little while longer but his Gunners on the upswing (coming off of a victory in the Premiership this weekend and looking poised to advance in the Champions League) and Euro on the horizon, the thought of him going anywhere for the time being, especially with the prospect of constant first-team play at the Emirates once he's fully fit, seems like a pretty big longshot. Also, he's under contract with the Gunners until 2015 as of last week, so there's that.
One of the most recent teens to join the transfer rumor hype machine is 15-year-old Josiah Chukwudi, who was spotted playing Sunday League football according to a report from Sky Sports. Queens Park Rangers offered the midfielder a trial and he reportedly impressed the West London club, but according to a report from TribalFootball, he's set to reject a move to Loftus Road.
Other Premiership clubs reportedly interested in Chukwudi include Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur. Because Chukwudi is without a club at the moment, "would be no compensation to be paid by any of his Premier League suitors if they try to sign the starlet," says the Sky report.
We often talk about how football as a game is getting younger and younger, but the latest crazy transfer goss is surrounding a 5-year-old who is apparently set to start training with Manchester United's development center.
The Guardian and the Daily Mail have both posted stories this week about Mancunian footballing whiz kid Charlie Jackson, who was first discovered by Manchester United scouts at the age of three while playing with a local community youth football program.
Jackson and his family support Manchester City, and according to his dad, his favorite players are Joe Hart and Mario Balotelli, but they say they'll be proud of him wherever he ends up.