Ghanaian Daniel Agyei is among the top ten young players in English League Which could have a breakthrough season in the Premier League in 2017/18?
Whether it is forcing their way into the senior team for the first time or furthering claims for a regular starting role, there could be opportunities for players to make their mark up and down the league.
Here are 10 to keep an eye on over the next year…
Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool)
Having made seven starts in all competitions last season, Alexander-Arnold looks primed for further first-team involvement in 2017/18, particularly with European football back on the agenda for Liverpool. He is expected to be the regular back-up for Nathaniel Clyne at right-back and has not been included in England’s squad for the European Under-19 Championship with next season in mind. He has high ambitions too, telling the Daily Telegraph in May: “Until I captain Liverpool I will not be satisfied.”
Josh Onomah (Tottenham)
Onomah was one of the most impressive performers for England as they won the Under-20 World Cup in South Korea. And with Spurs so far quiet in the transfer market, it might be expected that the 20-year-old will play more of a role in the first team next season, having only made 12 appearances, and just three starts, in 2016/17. He has largely been deployed as a wide player by Mauricio Pochettino so far, but perhaps that might change after he shone for England in a deeper midfield role. His international displays even earned comparisons to club team-mate Mousa Dembele
Ainsley Maitland-Niles (Arsenal)
Another World Cup winner with England in South Korea, Arsene Wenger has confirmed that Maitland-Niles will be promoted to the first-team squad next season. The 19-year-old mainly played on the flanks in his seven appearances last year, but Wenger was impressed with his performance in midfield against Southampton in the FA Cup in January. “I’ve seen qualities in him that tell me he can be useful in the middle and he can also be a defensive specialist,” added the Gunners boss.
Jonathan Leko (West Brom)
Described as an “unbelievable” talent by Tony Pulis around this time last year, Leko made nine Premier League appearances last season, all from the bench. The 18-year-old is one of 14 Premier League players to have been nominated for the Golden Boy award, which recognises the best young player in Europe over a calendar year. In a team that has sometimes being accused of lacking creativity, Leko is quick, direct, good with the ball at his feet, and could give the Baggies a spark in 2017/18.
Olufela Olomola (Southampton)
At a club that has had plenty of ‘breakout’ players in the last few seasons, and struggled for goals in 2016/17, there could be opportunities for Olomola under new manager Mauricio Pellegrino. The 19-year-old, who is yet to appear in the Premier League, can play up front or on the right and scored seven goals in 16 matches for the Under-23s last year. He joined Southampton from Arsenal in 2014 and could be set to make an impression in the first team with his strength, pace and eye for goal.
Dominic Solanke (Liverpool)
Solanke was the player of the tournament as England won the Under-20 World Cup. He also might have improved his chances of having a breakthrough season by leaving Chelsea, where he made just one senior appearance, to join Liverpool. His coach at Chelsea, Adrian Viveash, labelled Solanke as an “outstanding” player who reminds of him Teddy Sheringham, but quicker. With Daniel Sturridge potentially leaving Liverpool, Solanke might get a few opportunities to showcase his talents next season
Daniel Agyei (Burnley)
The 20-year-old forward spent the first half of last season on loan at Coventry, scoring five goals in 20 appearances, before returning to Burnley in January. He then made his Premier League debut against Liverpool in March, describing it as a “massive step forward”. Burnley’s development coach Michael Jolley says the striker, who can also play out wide, is “difficult to stop”. “He’s got some great natural assets, pace and power, he’s got a terrific left foot, he can head it. He’s got a lot going for him,” he added.
Andreas Pereira (Manchester United)
After a testing season on loan at Granada, might this be the year that Pereira, 21, makes his breakthrough at Manchester United? With big-money signings expected, he might be limited to cup appearances, but he is raring to go after making 37 appearances in Spain. “I think I’m ready now,” he told the club website. “I am more mature, physically and mentally, and I am ready to come back and hopefully push to play next season for United.” Pereira played across the midfield at relegated Granada, starting out wide before moving to No 10 and then into the centre.
Ben Chilwell (Leicester)
With 12 first-team starts last season, including a Champions League debut, it feels like now is the time for Chilwell to push on and put more pressure on Christian Fuchs’ position in the Leicester team. Chilwell, who played with England at the European Under-21 Championship, signed a long-term deal with the Foxes last summer after being linked with Liverpool. And he said towards the end of the season that he is hungry for more: “I have had some great experiences so far and I want to experience even more.”
Ramadan Sobhi (Stoke)
After making 19 appearances in all competitions in his debut season with Stoke, expect more from 20-year-old Sobhi in 2016/17. The tricky winger has already showed flashes of his potential, such as in an impressive display against Middlesbrough in March which left manager Mark Hughes purring about his qualities. “When you get him in good areas in the final third and when he’s twisting and turning inside the box… There are few I’ve seen who are as good in those situations.” The challenge for Sobhi is to force his way into the first team when everybody is fit.
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