Amidst the din of another Premier League season, a host of young players strive to make their name. Over the next six weeks, Last Word on Football will cover the top five so far. From homegrown academy products to some of the hottest talents in Europe, the Premier League is jam-packed with young talent. This week, we cover the honourable mentions for the best Premier League Young Player
Premier League Young Player Portrait
The Honourable Mentions
There is a plethora of talent in the Premier League. Some, purchased for huge transfer fees, other with humbler beginnings on their first professional contract. Choosing only five is a difficult task. As such, there are some terrific names left off the list. For example, Dele Alli is excluded. Not due to any quarrels with his play, but his ascension to stardom was well documented in the 2016/2017 season.
Two years ago he would be on this list, but Rashford is quickly rising up the ranks of the Golden Boy award lists once again. Reinventing himself on Jose Mourinho‘s left flank, Rashford has already hit four league goals. He only reached five in his previous two seasons. After his meteoric rise under Louis Van Gaal via injury crises, fevers on Rashford cooled in his second season. The Manchester United striker turned winger is a mercurial talent, with a booked seat on the plane to Russia.
Adding the ability to burn defenders in 1v1 scenarios, Rashford has become a nightmare for most fullbacks. Coupled with the fact that he is losing the ball far less often, 0.9 dispossessions a match compared to 1.5 and 2.3 per 90 in the past two seasons, he is a dangerous prospect. If he adds the ability to drive the touchline and deliver the killer ball, he could be the best Premier League young player.
Another player who missed the boat on their breakout season, but Leroy Sane is lighting the Premier League aflame. After a €50 million move last summer, Sane initially struggled in England. But as Pep Guardiola‘s Manchester City squad have steamrolled the league, Sane has blossomed.
With six goals and six assists in 11 starts, he has already eclipsed both totals from last year. The improvement in his end product is palpable. It always felt like Sane got into dangerous positions, but his finishing or his crossing let him down. This season is an entirely different beast. When Sane ghosts past a defender, it seems like he is taking better shots and picking better passes. His radar, via Ted Knutson, is insane. He might be the best Premier League young player right now. But given his massive transfer fee, he feels a bit like cheating.
The Brazilian who never loses, Gabriel Jesus has only ever lost one match for Manchester City, a recent tie against Shakhtar. 17 goals in 23 starts, flicks, tricks, Jesus has got it all. Another one who feels a bit like cheating, with a big money move from Palmeiras last January. But given how good he has been this season for Manchester City, it is scary viewing for rival clubs.
Capable of slotting in anywhere across the forward line, he has often featured in a duo with hitman Sergio Aguero this season. Conversely, the diminutive Brazilian lined up on the left-hand side of a 4-3-3 in the Manchester Derby this weekend, wreaking havoc with David Silva, Fabian Delph, and Raheem Sterling when pulling wide. One of the most pleasing aspects of Jesus’ game is his ability to pick good passes and good shot locations. Routinely he squares the ball for a better shot or ends up on the end of a pass across goal. His rotation with Aguero, unfortunately, means he finds his way into the honourable mentions of the Premier League young player of the season so far.
Check back next week for the next Premier League Portrait as we count down the top five.
Main Photo: Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford (right) celebrates scoring his side’s second goal of the game during the UEFA Europa League, Quarter-Final match at Old Trafford, Manchester. (Photo by Martin Rickett/PA Images via Getty Images)