Seven PL youngsters who could break through in 20-21: Elliott, Smith Rowe…

Each Premier League season uncovers breakthrough talent who go on to become stars at their clubs. Expect many new names to grace the back pages this season.

Manchester United’s Mason Greenwood, Bukayo Saka of Arsenal and Phil Foden at Manchester City all established themselves as key players and valuable assets last season, and there’s no reason to think that production line of upcoming talent will stop any time soon. 

We’ve taken a look at seven players who are looking to break through ahead of the new season.

Harvey Elliott – Liverpool

The youngest player to debut in the Premier League, Elliott was brought off the bench against Wolves by Fulham boss Scott Parker back in April 2019, just 30 days after his 16th birthday.

He left the Cottagers for Liverpool last summer and made eight first-team appearances for the Reds last season, two of which came in the Premier League.

He recently signed a new three-year deal to remain on Merseyside, and the London-born starlet has been praised by Kop boss Jurgen Klopp, who’s described him as an “exciting prospect” with “great qualities”.

Elliott netted his first senior goal in pre-season as the Reds beat Blackpool 7-2 at Anfield last week. He is expected to be given more game time this season.

Emile Smith Rowe – Arsenal

The 20-year-old made appearances in all competitions on loan at Huddersfield last season and memorably scored a late winner in the penultimate game of the Championship season against West Brom – sparking celebrations 20 miles up the road, having confirmed Leeds United’s return to the Premier League. 

“Smith Rowe has completely changed the dynamic of the Town attack,” Opta analyst David Hartrick said on ‘Ooh To Be A…’, the ExaminerLive’s Huddersfield Town podcast.

Now back at Arsenal, with Ozil not featuring, Matteo Guendouzi out of favour and Mohamed Elneny expected to depart the Emirates, the door seems to be open for Smith Rowe to stake a claim in the Gunners’ midfield. Mikel Arteta has been eager to give opportunities to young talent so far. 

Dennis Cirkin – Tottenham

The Tottenham academy ace made the bench last season as Spurs took on Everton, due to injuries to both Juan Foyth and Japhet Tanganga. 

Since the departure of Mauricio Pochettino last November, the 18-year-old has been training in Jose Mourinho’s first team and was on the bench for both FA Cup ties against Middlesborough and Southampton.

He will be looking to impress the Portuguese manager early into the new season and could well be given opportunities as Spurs potentially face nine games in three weeks between the Premier League’s return, Carabao Cup and Europa League qualifiers. 

Luke Thomas – Leicester City

The 19-year-old looks more than capable of stepping into the boots of Ben Chilwell, who left the King Power this summer to join Chelsea.

Thomas, an England youth international was handed his Premier League debut last season against Sheffield United. The fact manager Brendan Rodgers gave him the chance to shine against the Blades due to Chilwell’s injury may give an insight as to the line up in their first game of the 2020-21 campaign, away at West Brom.

Described as “frankly incredible” by the Leicester Mercury, he set-up Ayoze Perez to fire home as the Foxes ran out 2-0 winners. Rodgers previously hinted Thomas is likely to get more opportunities in the future, telling talkSPORT: “He’s very level-headed, he has a good perspective on where he’s at, and he’s got real quality.”

Anthony Gordon – Everton

The 19-year-old actually made his senior debut two years ago as a substitute in a 3-0 victory over Apollon Limassol.

His first taste of Premier League football came against West Ham did not come until January of this year, but he went on to make a further 10 appearances before the end of the season and has recently put pen to paper on a new five-year deal to remain at Goodison Park.

Even though Everton have signed three new midfielders in James Rodriguez, Allan and Abdoulaye Doucoure, Gordon is likely to be given opportunities to impress in the domestic cups at least. 

Taylor Harwood-Bellis – Manchester City

Harwood-Bellis, 18, looks destined for more Manchester City first-team action next campaign. He came through the same Stockport Metro Junior League that produced City team-mate Foden and has been at the club since the age of eight.

The youngster captained City’s Under-23’s as a 17-year-old and made his Champions League debut against Dinamo Zagreb as a substitute in December last year.

Harwood-Bellis became the youngest Englishman to score for the Blues in almost 14 years in an FA Cup tie against Port Vale back in April, with Pep Guardiola full of praise for him afterwards.

“I am pleased a lot with Eric Garcia and Taylor Harwood-Bellis at the back, they helped us a lot,” he said.

“They combined, they suit each other perfectly and they have played in the academy every weekend. They are exceptional human beings with a good mentality. I am very pleased.”

Harwood-Bellis is expected to be given his chance in the domestic cup competitions once again and could move up the pecking order with doubts over Garcia’s short-term future in Manchester.

Will Smallbone – Southampton

Southampton’s conveyor belt of emerging young talent may have slowed down in recent years, but Smallbone is certainly one to take note of.

The 20-year-old made his professional debut for Southampton against Huddersfield in a 2-0 victory in January, where he netted his first senior goal for the club. He later made his Premier League bow in a win over Aston Villa a month later.

With Mario Lemina joining Fulham on a season-long loan and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg heading to Tottenham, he has a clear pathway to becoming a regular starter for Saints this season.

By Sam May

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