Who is your club's most exciting youth prospect?

Daniel Zeqiri
The Telegraph
How many of England's young stars of this summer will make the grade in the Premier League?
How many of England's young stars of this summer will make the grade in the Premier League?

Injuries may have forced his hand, but Gareth Southgate won plenty of goodwill from England fans by giving youth a chance against Germany and Brazil. Supporters find themselves rooting for the youngsters in a team for a variety of reasons. Firstly, there is an obvious romantic attachment to those viewed as 'one of your own', players who are more easily related to than your average Premier League player. 

Expectation levels are also lowered when there are some fledglings on the team sheet, and because fans are often watching players for the first time their initial instinct is to accentuate good points and turn a blind eye to the bad. A victory is extra special, but any defeat can easily be explained away with 'we had the kids out'. This diffuses the frothing discontent that is so commonplace among fanbases today. So who is your club's most exciting youngster? 


Reiss Nelson 

Arsenal lost the promising Chris Willock to Benfica last summer and sold Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to Liverpool, but Nelson can ensure fans quickly forget about both. Spurs were interested in him as a nine-year-old, but the red half of north London acted quickly to take him to Hale End - the site of their academy. Although Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Joe Willock and Eddie Nketiah are promising, Nelson is the jewel in the crown. 

The 17-year-old is a natural dribbler, gliding past opponents with ease and usually from the right-flank. During his Carabao Cup and Europa League starts this season, Arsene Wenger has employed him as a right-wing back which has curtailed his offensive potential. Expect to see more spectacular performances if he is played in an advanced position. 

Nelson regularly started as a No.10 in the youth teams, so has highly developed spacial awareness and ability to cope in confined areas. Whereas Oxlade-Chamberlain more of a bustling 'push and run' dribbler, Nelson keeps the ball a little closer to him - not unlike his teammate Jack Wilshere, and also has a talent for scoring free-kicks. 

<span>Reiss Nelson is Arsenal's best young prospect</span> <span>Credit: Getty Images </span>
Reiss Nelson is Arsenal's best young prospect Credit: Getty Images


Lewis Cook

Centre back Brennan Camp, 17, could prove Bournemouth's next homegrown prospect but their best youngster is in fact a recruit from Leeds United. Cook received an England call-up in the last international break, and might well get more opportunities given England's lack of central midfield options.

He also played on the flanks while at Elland Road, and Cook's main strength is his ability to carry the ball from central areas. He shields the ball very well, getting his body between ball and opponent. This also means he wins more duels than a player of his stature has a right to. Bournemouth did not attempt to sign Wilshere on a permanent basis, and Cook could well be the reason for that.


Dwight McNeil  

Any 17-year-old playing for an Under-23 team is worthy of attention, even if Burnley's academy is not swollen with talent like some of the bigger clubs. McNeil, who usually plays as a winger, has been singled out for praise by youth team coach and former Burnley defender Michael Duffy.  

"He was a first year last year with the 18s with me and you can see he's got ability," Duff said. "It's about honing that and channeling it in the right direction, keeping his feet on the ground. He's scored a couple of goals in front of a Turf Moor crowd of about 100, ideally we want him scoring goals in front of a Turf Moor crowd of 25,000. That's the key."

McNeil in Burnley Under-23s top goalscorer this season, and a club on Burnley's frugal budget they need to extract every last ounce of potential from their academy. 

Brighton and Hove Albion

Jayson Molumby 

Midfield partner Dessie Hutchinson deserves a mention - Chris Hughton felt confident enough to start both he a Molumby in the Carabao Cup this season. However, Molumby is two years younger and was nominated for Ireland's Under-17 Player of the Year in 2016 - which was eventually won by West Ham's Declan Rice. Ireland desperately need some fresh blood, although Molumby will find Premier League minutes hard to come by as Brighton fight to stay up. 


Callum Hudson-Odoi

Where do you start at Chelsea? Lewis Baker, Dujon Sterling, Trevoh Chalobah, Ethan Ampadu, Ike Ugbo among others could easily have been our choice. However, Hudson-Odoi's versatility mean he has the potential to grow into numerous different roles. This is important because young players rarely get a first-team chance in their 'natural' position, but instead are used wherever there is a lack of bodies. 

<span>Callum Hudson-Odoi in last season's Youth Cup final</span> <span>Credit: Rex Features </span>
Callum Hudson-Odoi in last season's Youth Cup final Credit: Rex Features

A World Cup winner with England's Under-17s and provider of three assists in the final against Spain, the Chelsea man can occupy any offensive position across the pitch. Has consistently played 'above his age' at during his time at Stamford Bridge, and only turned 17 on November 7. 

Crystal Palace

Nya Kirby 

In an act of minor revenge for the John Bostock saga, Palace managed to prise Kirby away from Tottenham and the England youth international was part of their pre-season tour of the Far East. Kirby has played most of his football in central midfield, where he likes to dribble with the ball to attract opponents and create space ahead of him. 

Kirby is another on this list who was part of England's triumphant Under-17s team in India, and said: “When we met up at the start, everyone had a good winning mentality and we went out there trying to win it.We were there for five weeks but we had a good bunch of lads and it was a great place. The fans were amazing; in the final there were 63,000 in attendance which was incredible.”


Jonjoe Kenny 

Despite their reputation for giving young players first-team opportunities, a number of prospects have proven dead ends: James Vaughan, Victor Anichebe, Jack Rodwell and even, if his situation remains the same, Ross Barkley. 

The generation lead by Tom Davies and Dominic Calvert-Lewin are hoping to be more durable, and young full-back Jonjoe Kenny is particularly well regarded. Everton will need a long-term replacement for Seamus Coleman, and the 20-year-old Kenny is the next cab off the rank. Alexis Sanchez gave him a rough ride in a 5-2 defeat last month, and he sliced one into his own net at Leicester, but such chastening experiences are part of a young player's development. Needs to avoid a serious injury, like the one that thwarted a promising full-back from across Stanley Park, Jon Flanagan. 

Huddersfield Town

Philip Billing

Currently on the treatment table, the 21-year-old Danish midfielder caught the eye in Huddersfield's FA Cup replay at Manchester City last season where Alan Shearer described his performance as 'brilliant'. The club's young player of the year in each of the last two seasons, Billing is a rangy central midfielder who stands out from the pack by virtue of being 6ft 5in tall and left-footed. Long-range strikes at Nottingham Forest and Cardiff City, Huddersfield's goal of the season in their promotion campaign, are proof of sound technique too. 

The best young players in world football

Leicester City

Hamza Choudhury 

An impressive afro makes him instantly recognisable, and Choudhury made his senior Leicester debut against Liverpool in the Carabao Cup this season. The 20-year-old grew up in Leicestershire and captained the club's Under-23s team. A midfielder by trade, he benefited from a loan spell with then League One club Burton Albion. His immediate family are from Bangladesh, and he could prove something of a trailblazer as one of the first top-flight British Asian footballers since Fulham's Zesh Rehman more than a decade ago. 

Choudbury told the Leicester Mercury:  “Asians have family everywhere. We are all very close, so when something heart-warming happens everyone gets together to celebrate, like my debut.

“I don’t really feel any pressure about being a professional from an Asian background. My family have been a great help with that, just telling me to enjoy it.

“If I turned around tomorrow and said I didn’t want to play football any more they would support me. I really have their backing no matter what I don’t feel any pressure.”


Rhian Brewster

An obvious choice after his goalscoring heroics at the Under-17 World Cup. Brewster actually hails from east London, and joined Liverpool from Chelsea's academy aged 15, and has since been fast-tracked into their Under-23 development team. Described as a 'natural striker' by Jurgen Klopp, Brewster has inevitably attracted comparisons to former Melwood whirlwinds Robbie Fowler and Michael Owen. 

His eight goals at the World Cup were evidence of intuitive anticipation in the penalty area, but interestingly Brewster has worn the No.10 shirt for Liverpool's youth teams. A glance at his highlights show a player happy to drop off the last line of defence to link play and provide for others, though this might be a reflection of the fact he is comfortably the best player in his age group. These skills might be redundant as he develops into a centre forward at senior level, but the ability to fit into a collective is important in today's game - particularly under Jurgen Klopp. Just ask Daniel Sturridge. 

Manchester City

Phil Foden

Like Chelsea, Man City have a treasure trove of promising players coming through. Brahim Diaz should be mentioned in dispatches, but Phil Foden is the apple of Pep Guardiola's eye. Comfortable in any midfield role, the 17-year-old has already been called up to train with City's first team and would have played against Wolves in the Carabao Cup but for England commitments at the World Cup in India. He played his part in their victory over Spain in the final, scoring twice. 

Foden impressed in a pre-season outing against Manchester United this summer, rarely taking more than two touches as a he fitted seamlessly into Guardiola's style of play. Opponents will note he is strongly left-footed, but his spatial awareness and scanning of the pitch means he moves the ball quickly enough before they can force him onto his right. There will be comparisons with Wilshere, but Foden is probably more of a passer than a dribbler. 

<span>Rhian Brewster and Phil Foden's mantelpieces will be full after their summer success</span> <span>Credit: PA </span>
Rhian Brewster and Phil Foden's mantelpieces will be full after their summer success Credit: PA

Manchester United

Axel Tuanzebe 

As Jose Mourinho prioritised the Europa League in the closing stretch of last season, Tuanzebe got some first-team minutes, notably away at Arsenal. The 20-year-old's favourite position is centre-back, but his opportunities at senior level could come as a full-back while he has also played in central midfield. His signature move is the way he changes gear and drives away from opponents, and his calmness in possession puts Phil Jones and Chris Smalling to shame. With the latter likely to be moved on by Jose Mourinho before too long, a pathway could open up for Tuanzebe. 

Newcastle United

Dan Barlaser

Born in Gateshead but a Turker Under-17 international, Barlaser has just signed a contract extension to keep him at Newcastle until 2019. The 20-year-old midfielder has made three first-team appearances, and is regarded as an energetic midfielder. A former winger, Barlaser looks to control games with his passing range and also likes to shoot from distance. Rafael Benitez will plump for experience as Newcastle look to secure Premier League survival, but it has been too long since Newcastle fans really grew to love a local lad. 


Callum Slattery 

An England international at youth level, Slattery signed a three-year-contract with Southampton this summer which is a mark of the club's faith in the young midfielder. Hoping to follow the likes of Callum Chambers, Matt Targett, Luke Shaw, Jack Stephens and Josh Sims and progress to Southampton's first team, Slattery is viewed as a box-to-box midfielder. The 18-year-old is yet to make a senior appearance on the south coast, and with the amount of competition in Southampton's midfield that is unlikely to change soon. If only he was a striker... 

<span>Callum Slattery in action against Cardiff's Under-23s</span> <span>Credit: Getty Images </span>
Callum Slattery in action against Cardiff's Under-23s Credit: Getty Images

Stoke City

Tyrese Campbell

Son of pin-stripped former Arsenal and Everton striker Kevin Campbell, Tyrese was picked out by Stoke manager Mark Hughes as a player with the potential to make it at Premier League level. Hughes said: "He and his father clearly looked at his prospects at Man City, a fantastic operation and clearly a great club and a huge stage for any player, but for younger players it is difficult to break through.

“So we presented to him and said, ‘Listen, if you progress and you fulfil the potential that we think you’ve got then there is going to be that pathway to the first team and it is going to happen quicker than you think possibly’.”

Campbell's four goals in Premier League 2 this season have all come from the penalty spot, and coach Glyn Hodges has called on him to be more selfish in front of goal. 

Swansea City

Joe Rodon

Dubbed the 'Welsh John Stones', Rodon has attracted the attention of Celtic and Manchester City with his performances at youth level for club and country. The 20-year-old defender is yet to make his full Swansea debut, but did get to train with Chris Coleman's Wales squad in the March international break along with former teammates Neil Taylor and Ashley Williams. 

"The old Swansea boys took care of me and I thought I had got off pretty lightly until they turned around and told me I could not go until I had done my initiation," Rodon recalled to Wales Online

"I can't thank them enough for that!

"I ended up doing 'Ain't No Mountain High Enough' by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Tyrell.

"A few of the boys said it was pretty old school for someone of my age, but I'm definitely not going to say if I did it any justice or not!" 

Tottenham Hotspur 

Marcus Edwards 

Mauricio Pochettino has not even bothered to play it cool with Edwards, nicknaming him 'Mini-Messi' at the Spurs training ground. His name has been on the grapevine for a few years now, but Edwards is still only 18. Slight, with a low centre of gravity, Edwards loves to drift to the right flank before cutting inside onto his favoured left-foot. As Pochettino's moniker for him suggests, Edwards loves to carry the fall and commit defenders. 

This could potentially stand him in good stead because on thing Spurs lack, for all their qualities, is a wide player with trickery. Their most laboured performances this season have come at Wembley against Burnley, Swansea, Bournemouth and Crystal Palace - teams who put numbers behind the ball and asked Spurs to break them down. The likes of Clinton Njié and Georges-Kévin N'Koudou failed to make the cut, but Edwards could be the final piece in Pochettino's puzzle. 

<span>The first of many north London derbies for Marcus Edwards?</span> <span>Credit: Getty Images </span>
The first of many north London derbies for Marcus Edwards? Credit: Getty Images


Isaac Success

He might sound like a minor Martin Amis character, and behave like one off the pitch, but Success is a hugely talented player who Marco Silva believes still has a future at Vicarage Road. The 21-year-old showed enough last season to suggest he might be right, when his pace and ability on the flanks caught the eye. The performances of new singing Richarlison however, might restrict future opportunities. 

West Bromwich Albion 

Sam Field

Tony Pulis is a footballing conservative, so handing eight Premier League appearances to teenage midfielder Sam Field says plenty about his qualities. Pulis even described Field's performance against Chelsea last term as 'smashing'. Despite interest from several Championship clubs this summer, Field has stayed at West Brom to continue his development in the youth teams. Supporting West Brom is a bit of a drag at present, but Field is one reason for optimism. 

West Ham United 

Declan Rice

Reece Oxford will run him close, but Rice could be the long-term answer to the defensive vulnerabilities that have hindered West Ham for so long. The 18-year-old centre back has already tasted Premier League football this season, and Slaven Bilic trusted him to occupy the central position when West Ham played with a back three. There is also evidence of the 'leadership' attributes that coaches crave, as Rice captained West Ham's Under-23s to the Premier League 2 title last season. 

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