7 youngsters who have been surprisingly good in the Premier League
The pace in the Premier League is ramping up as we rapidly approach the finish line. Manchester City, Liverpool and perhaps Tottenham Hotspur are the ones challenging for the title while Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal are in a race for the Champions League spot. Meanwhile, there is no lack of competition among the other teams. As is always the case, anyone can beat anyone on their day.
With the riches within the English game, club owners always want the best players. Managers are under pressure and hence not many can be brave enough to experiment with youngsters. But, fate plays its part. Either due to injuries to regular starters or a manager's creative freedom, the young guns progress, some lads get their chances.
We saw the likes of Trent Alexander-Arnold, Lewis Cook and Andreas Christensen breaking out in a similar fashion last season. Here we discuss seven such names who have stunned the Premier League this time around.
Guendouzi has played the most number of minutes in the Premier League compared to his teenage counterparts. The 19-year-old French international was signed from Lorient for a fee of 7m this summer. Under Unai Emery, he has become a regular starter which no one expected.
Deployed at the no.6 position, he combines well with Lucas Torreira to add steel and swagger in the middle of the park. He is the player who can saunter down a deserted street for his manager. Although his creativity is not a highlight of his skill set, his ability to hold on to the ball and recycle possession brings something which the Gunners have not seen for quite some time. Emery and former Arsenal scout Sven Mislintat have to be credited for spotting such a talent in Ligue 2.
Declan Rice is a wanted man. A Chelsea academy product, Rice is a born leader. His commanding and confident nature have helped him to shine brightly continuously for the Hammers.
His display against Arsenal in a 1-0 home victory gained him plaudits from all over Europe. Rice started his career as a centre-back, although Idolising Michael Carrick. His neat footwork and ability to make decisive passes and hold on to the ball checked all the boxes for a defensive midfielder.
Recently switching his future to England from the Republic of Ireland, his ability to blend physicality with technical ability is underrated. For someone aged 20, it feels too good to be true.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka joined the youth setup at Crystal Palace when he was 11. He made his debut under Roy Hodgson in the second half of 2017-18 season. There has been no looking back since then.
Recently turning 21, the Englishman has performed brilliantly against the best in the league. Making the most number of tackles (96), he is the right-back forwards hate to go against. Wan-Bissaka's confidence and anticipation help him to make the opposition lose the ball neatly. The Londoner's dribbling skills and the desire to spray the ball forward gives a different attacking outlet to the Eagles.
His best years are yet to come. No one thought that the budding right-back would attract the likes of Chelsea and Manchester United, particularly so soon.
The Premier League has welcomed James Maddison with open arms. Arriving for a fee of £20m from Norwich City, he has become amongst Leicester City's most important players.
He brings versatility for the Foxes being able to play as a no.10, no.8 and even left-midfield. He can dictate tempo from the back, run into defenders and dribble past them and pull off penetrating passes. The 22-year-old is a set-piece specialist too. Back-to-back goals against Bournemouth and Huddersfield Town can attest to that.
Losing Riyad Mahrez was a big blow for the team's creativity. But, Maddison has filled the gap surprisingly well.
There's something different unfolding at the King Power this term; despite the fact that Claude Puel recently lost his job. Ben Chilwell is one of several players who have vastly improved their games at Leicester over the last year or so.
His marauding nature and excellent work rate help the players around him. He runs tirelessly and is very similar to Wan-Bissaka: defensively and offensively astute. Chilwell has made the left-back berth his own. He still has areas to be improved, though, particularly with the ball at his feet.
While teams struggle to find a decent full-back, the Foxes have ensured their future remains in good hands with Chilwell and Ricardo Pereira.
Despite being the youngest of the bunch, Callum Hudson-Odoi is the most interesting prospect in the Premier League. The fact that he has not made a single start in the league for Chelsea and has had so much buzz around him is proof of his quality.
In the Europa League, he has made more dribbles (25) than any other player. Against Malmo in the 2nd leg, he was the only good thing about Chelsea's attack. His adept dribbling ability, sublime pace and clinical finishing make him special.
Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri is not giving enough minutes to the Englishman but his time will come. It still amazes me how he has turned up his this season and people can see him being a regular starter for more than a decade. It is too early to comment but that is what is unique.
David Brooks arrived in England from Sheffield United for a fee of £11.5m. An ex-Manchester City academy product, he has technical ability in abundance although not the most muscular figure.
His desire to find the back of the net is supreme. In 22 appearances, he has been directly involved in 10 goals. Brooks' vision is a key cog to instigate attacks. He can pick long passes to forwards which would have enough space to create a shooting opportunity. Josh King and Callum Wilson are the beneficiaries.
With talents like Ethan Ampadu and Ben Woodburn alongside Brooks in the Wales squad, they can pose a serious threat to international football.