9 young stars set for a breakthrough season in the Premier League

·8-min read
Alejandro Garnacho celebrates scoring for Manchester United, Manchester, Old Trafford, 11 May 2022. Credit: PA Images
Alejandro Garnacho celebrates scoring for Manchester United, Manchester, Old Trafford, 11 May 2022. Credit: PA Images

While Premier League clubs continue to spend money on high-profile signingsthere is also an exciting crop of youngsters waiting to burst onto the scene in 2022-23. 

Fans love watching young players work their way into the first team and clubs hope to unearth the next Bukayo Saka or Phil Foden.

We’ve taken a look at nine Under-21 players that could become household names in 2022-23.

Alejandro Garnacho

Garnacho shot to prominence last season with his performances for Manchester United’s Under-18s in the prestigious FA Youth Cup.

The winger registered 10 direct goal contributions in six appearances in the competition, including two goals in the final as United lifted the trophy for the first time since 2011.

He’s since enjoyed a productive summer, scoring four goals for Argentina Under-20s at the Tournoi Maurice Revello and winning the revelation of the tournament award.

According to the Daily Mirror, United boss Erik ten Hag has told senior staff at Old Trafford that he intends to fast-track Garnacho’s career.

The 18-year-old made two first-team appearances under Ralf Rangnick last season but is set to play a bigger role in 2022-23, acting as back-up for the likes of Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho.

Manchester United's Alejandro Garnacho celebrates against Nottingham Forest at Old Trafford, Manchester, May 2022. Credit: PA Images
Manchester United's Alejandro Garnacho celebrates against Nottingham Forest at Old Trafford, Manchester, May 2022. Credit: PA Images

READ: ‘A full-back’s nightmare’ – What’s been said about Alejandro Garnacho

Kaide Gordon

One of two Derby County academy graduates on this list, Gordon made his Championship debut at the age of 16 before joining Liverpool in February 2021.

The winger initially played for Liverpool’s Under-18s but his impressive performances managed to catch the attention of their first-team coaches.

“I went to watch Under-23s training and I see one player and he has fire in each moment he touched the ball,” Liverpool assistant Pepijn Lijnders said in September 2021.

“He passes players like they are not standing there, so I call Jurgen immediately like, ‘Wow, we have a new player here!’”

The 17-year-old made four first-team appearances in 2021-22 and scored his first senior goal in an FA Cup win over Shrewsbury, becoming Liverpool’s second youngest goalscorer in all competitions. 

While Jurgen Klopp has some great attacking options at his disposal, Gordon has the talent to break through and become a key player.

Archie Gray

The youngest player on this list, Gray was only four months old when Zinedine Zidane headbutted Marco Materazzi in the 2006 World Cup final. 

After his dad, grandad and great uncle all played for Leeds United, he followed in their footsteps by joining their academy.

The midfielder made 13 appearances for the Under-23s in Premier League 2 last season and scored a 35-yard screamer against Manchester United just three days after his 16th birthday.

He was also an unused substitute in six Premier League games in 2021-22 but has been starring for the first team in their pre-season friendlies.

“I can’t help but get excited when I talk about him because you can see it’s not just his talent, it’s his personality and he shows that when he plays,” Leeds boss Jesse Marsch said recently.

“He’s ready for some big challenges so let’s see how it goes.”

Charlie Patino

Regarded as one of the most talented players to come through Arsenal’s academy, Patino looks set for a bright future at the Emirates.

The 18-year-old scored just 10 minutes into his senior debut in a 5-1 win over Sunderland in the Carabao Cup last season and was also named in the matchday squad for Arsenal’s final four Premier League games.

Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe became Premier League regulars after impressing in the Europa League and Patino will be looking to do the same in 2022-23.

Harvey Vale

Chelsea’s academy is widely regarded as one of the best in European football and Vale is the latest talent from their conveyor belt.

He registered five goals and three assists in Premier League 2 in 2021-22 and his performances saw him win their Academy Player of the Year award, following in the footsteps of Mason Mount, Reece James and Conor Gallagher. 

The midfielder carried his impressive form into the summer, captaining England Under-19s as they became European Champions.

Having made a handful of appearances for Thomas Tuchel’s senior team in the domestic cups last season, he now looks ready to make his Premier League bow. 

Harvey Vale celebrates scoring for Chelsea against Zenit St Petersburg in the UEFA Youth League. Cobham Training Ground, Stoke d'Abernon, Surrey. Tuesday September 14, 2021. Credit: PA Images
Harvey Vale celebrates scoring for Chelsea against Zenit St Petersburg in the UEFA Youth League. Cobham Training Ground, Stoke d'Abernon, Surrey. Tuesday September 14, 2021. Credit: PA Images

READ: Harvey Vale’s 55-yard lob: Ultimate proof he’s Chelsea’s latest ‘baller’

Cole Palmer

Not content with having a world-class player like Phil Foden, Manchester City’s academy is still producing great prospects like Palmer.

The 20-year-old showed glimpses of his talent last season, appearing in four Premier League matches and scoring in the Champions League, Carabao Cup and FA Cup.

But he looks set for more first-team opportunities following Pep Guardiola’s decision to sell both Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus.

According to reports, the England Under-21 international will act as an understudy to Riyad Mahrez on the right flank. 

James McAtee

Alongside Palmer, McAtee is another exciting prospect in Manchester City’s academy and has even been dubbed the “Salford Silva” by his team-mates.

The attacking midfielder registered 18 goals and seven assists in 23 Premier League 2 appearances last season and has clearly outgrown Under-23s football.

According to the Athletic, City had planned for him to be part of their first team squad in 2022-23 but could now loan the 19-year-old to a Premier League club. 

While we don’t yet know who McAtee will be playing for next season, we’d be amazed if he doesn’t make an impact in the Premier League.

Malcolm Ebiowei

The second Derby County academy graduate, Ebiowei made his senior debut earlier this year and scored one goal in 16 Championship appearances.

“It was one of the best performances I have seen from a young player, consistently for 90 minutes, in a long time,” Wayne Rooney said after the teenager produced a Man of the Match performance against Coventry.

“He deserved that because he has worked extremely hard. His attitude is incredible, he wants to learn and he is an exciting young player. First of all, his attitude is very good.

“He has got an enormous amount of ability, he is brave, he will take the ball, he is not afraid to take players on, to get tackled, to make mistakes. So he has got a really bright future.”

Crystal Palace reportedly fought off interest from Manchester United and Tottenham to sign the winger on a five-year deal. 

Palace have previously signed Michael Olise and Eberechi Eze from the Championship and Ebiowei will be looking to follow in their footsteps.

Cameron Archer 

A product of the Aston Villa academy, Archer made his first start for the club against Barrow in the EFL Cup in September 2021 and hit the ground running with a hat-trick.

He then spent the second half of last season on loan at Preston North End, scoring seven goals in 20 Championship appearances before following that up with four goals in his first four appearances for England Under-21s.

The striker has since scored two goals in Villa’s pre-season tour of Australia and has reportedly impressed Steven Gerrard, who wants to keep him around the first-team squad.

“Cam showed everything that’s Cam’s about, movement, quality – he could have had a hat-trick,” Gerrard said after a 1-0 win over Brisbane Roar. “With Cam, if you don’t let me leave the room and I’d have to make a decision now, he’d be staying in the door.

“At the moment, [Archer would be staying] because [he’s] really stepped forward. What he’s doing is he’s sending messages to more experienced people that there’s a fight on from now until the game against Bournemouth – and beyond because the window is still open. [He’s] given me serious things to think about.”

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