With Russia 2018 now in the memory lane, our attention turns to the start of the domestic campaign in the major leagues across Europe. Clubs have been looking to bolster their squads by bringing in top names and lots of unexpected transfer have happened this summer, but one would do good to ask if any youngster would make a brake through this coming season.
It is no longer a news that some established stars would bee given extended holidays, while some will be returning late to pre-season training after featuring in Russia, these situations could serve as a once in a lifetime opportunity for young players to make an impact in the early weeks of the new Premier League season. But who are the the ones to watch?
Today, Zenox Sport brings you a list of five players aged 21 or less who are looking to take the next step in English football.
5. James Maddison (Leicester City)
James Maddison transfered to Leicester City on a five-year-deal this summer in a deal worth £20 million from Championship side Norwich City. He is an attack-minded midfielder, a dead ball specialist and a fine player for his age. He made his mark and impressed while on loan at the Scottish League where he dorned the colours of Aberdeen in 2016-17 season, scoring a stunning late free-kick to beat Rangers.
He followed that by establishing himself in Norwich’s first team last term, scoring 15 goals, including a match-winning strike in the derby with Ipswich. The England U21 international is surely a tip for greatness given his technical ability, a tight turning circle and a strong goals record. Questions have been raised over his potentials and his manager certainly think so, Claude Puel describing him as “one of the most exciting young talents in English football”.
4. Ryan Sessegnon (Fulham)
￼Arguably one of the fastest rising young player in the world, he won the 2018 Championship Player of the Year, at just 18 years old. Given his age and the fact that he has never played top-flight football, one would say Sessegnon is the next big thing for Enflish Football, he is already living up to the name as he is already a well-recognised name in English football because of his athleticism, positioning and eye for goal.
Like Gareth Bale, the pacy winger started his career as a left-back before being pushed further forward by Fulham last season, when he scored 16 goals in 52 appearances as the Cottagers secured promotion to the Premier League after a four-year absence. Based in London, Sessegnon has won England caps at several age group levels and he came through the ranks with Fulham, where he made his first appearance in the senior team in August 2016 aged just 16 years and 81 days. When asked about his talent in April, BBC Sport pundit Mark Lawrenson said: “What a player he’s going to be. It’s frightening.”
3. Ruben Neves (Wolverhampton Wanderers)
For what was a Championship record fee of about £16m, the Portuguese central midfielder joined Wolves from Porto last summer. The 21-year-old has mastered the art of long range passes and calm temperament in possession is one thing that distinguishes him from his peers.
A master of long range volley, Neves was shortlisted for Championship Player of the Year last season having helped Wolves claimed the title. His stunning long-range volley against Derby demonstrated elegance and precision and it was no fluke, as all six of his goals came from outside of the box.
The midfielder missed out a place in Portugal’s squad that participated at the World Cup in Russia this summer, but Wolves fans will have been delighted to see the classy youngster sign a new five-year deal at Molineux last month. “It is no secret that there has been interest from other clubs, but Ruben is incredibly level-headed for his age, and loves being a part of the Wolves family,” said Wolves sporting director Kevin Thelwell.
2. Phil Foden (Manchester City)
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola is a huge admirer of the teenager who has already tasted World Cup success with England U17s last October, when he was named Player of the Tournament. Foden made 10 appearances for the Premier League champions last year, including a rare start in the Champions League last-16 home tie with Basel.
The Stockport-born attacking midfielder glides across the park. He is a proven goalscorer at youth level and performed well for City in their recent pre-season tour of the United States.
However, Foden’s chance of making it into the first team look very slim with Riyad Mahrez arriving at Etihad Stadium this summer.
Given the coach’s admiration for his talent, it remains to be seen whether Guardiola allows Foden to move elsewhere on loan to help his development. After a dazzling pre-season performance against rivals Manchester United, Guardiola said: “It’s a long time since I saw something like this.”.
1. Callum Hudson-Odoi (Chelsea)
At 17, Hudson-Odoi has won a string of trophies with the Chelsea academy, after joining the club in 2007, and the youngster’s pre-season performances for the Blues has been impressive. The forward has been deployed on the left of a front three under new boss Sarri, having started all three matches against Perth Glory, Inter Milan and Arsenal respectively, and the early signs are promising.
Although he is short of experience at the senior level, the london based player has loads of confidence and a willingness to take on oppositions. Having won the U17 World Cup with England, Hudson-Odoi made his senior debut against Newcastle in the FA Cup last term under Antonio Conte, before making a further three appearances.
Speaking in an interview after Chelsea’s success in the FA Youth Cup final against Arsenal in April – in which Hudson-Odoi scored twice, coach Jody Morris commented: “He’s still got a lot to do but he’s certainly got a chance if he keeps his feet on the ground, and matures properly, because there’s a young kid there that has got a fantastic amount of talent”.