The Premier League is blessed with some of the best young talents around the globe as clubs search for the hidden gems who could become the next big thing. Clubs invest heavily in their academy to produce quality home-grown talent but also spend big on foreign talent who have bags of potential.
We take a look at a Premier League Under-21 XI…
Goalkeeper – Angus Gunn (Manchester City)
20-year-old goalkeeper, Angus Gunn, was Manchester City’s penalty hero which handed Pep Guardiola his first win as manager of the Citizens. Gunn produced three penalty saves which handed his side the win and the England U21 international has expressed his desire to fight for his place at the Etihad. If Gunn can continue to perform in pre-season he may be able to push for the role as Joe Hart’s understudy next season.
Right-Back – Hector Bellerin (Arsenal)
Arsenal’s Hector Bellerin has quickly emerged as one of the world’s hottest prospects following his breakthrough season at the Emirates. The Spaniard easily displaced Mathieu Debuchy as Arsenal’s first choice right back and has gone from strength-to-strength under Arsene Wenger. Bellerin was included in Spain’s Euro 2016 squad and has attracted the attention of both Manchester City and Barcelona.
Centre Back – Calum Chambers (Arsenal)
Fellow Gunner, Calum Chambers, now has the chance to break into the Arsenal first-team following a long-term injury to Per Mertesacker. The former Southampton man has struggled for game time since £16m move from St. Marys but will be hoping an injury to the German international can give him the chance to impress the Arsenal faithful.
Centre-Back – Kurt Zouma (Chelsea)
French defender, Kurt Zouma, will also be hoping to return to the first-team picture at Chelsea following a knee injury late in the season. Zouma is one of the most impressive defenders in world football and has the potential to be a mainstay in the Chelsea team and replace the legendary John Terry in the heart of the defence.
Left-Back – Luke Shaw (Manchester United)
The 2016/17 season represents a huge opportunity for Luke Shaw following his return to full fitness after a horrific double leg break suffered against PSV. The £30m defender was reaching top form before the injury which halted the English international’s progress. Shaw will be hoping to pick up where he left off and perform under Jose Mourinho as well as earning his place in the England squad.
Centre Midfield – Dele Alli (Tottenham)
PFA Young Player of the Year, Dele Alli, was one of the stand-out performers in the Premier League last season as Tottenham pushed for the title under Mauricio Pochettino. The former MK Dons midfielder reached ten goals in his debut season in the Premier League which earned him a starting role in England’s Euro 2016 campaign.
Centre Midfield – Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (Southampton)
New Southampton signing, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, arrives with a reputation as one of Europe’s hottest prospects. The 20-year-old was signed from Bayern Munich for just £12m after failing to impress Guardiola at the Allianz Arena. The Danish international is a box-to-box midfielder but can play in a number of positions meaning Hojbjerg will be a vital player for the Saints.
Centre Midfield – James Ward-Prowse (Southampton)
Southampton team-mate, James Ward-Prowse, will also be hoping to continue his good form of last season and earn a call-up to the senior England squad. Ward-Prowse captained the England Under-21 squad to victory in the recent Toulon Tournament and will be hoping for similar success with Southampton in their Europa League campaign.
Forward – Divock Origi (Liverpool)
Divock Origi was one of Liverpool’s most improved players under Jurgen Klopp last season and become a vital part of the side in the absence of Daniel Sturridge. The Belgian scored vital goals against Borussia Dortmund which helped Liverpool reach the final of Europa League final and also netted in Liverpool’s 4-0 win against Everton. His season ended abruptly due to an injury against the Toffees but has shown the promise to become a top forward at Anfield.
Forward – Kelechi Iheanacho (Manchester City)
Nigerian forward, Kelechi Iheanacho, is widely regarded as one of the hottest prospects in the Premier League. The feeling in Manchester is that former manager Manuel Pellegrini underused the young forward last season which could have disrupted his progress. Nevertheless, the striker scored 14 goals in 35 appearances and under Guardiola will be hoping to enjoy a breakthrough season under the Spaniard.
Forward – Raheem Sterling (Manchester City)
Former Liverpool winger, Raheem Sterling, will also be hoping to revive his career after receiving intense criticism since his £50m move from Merseyside. Sterling has failed to impress and struggled at Euro 2016. The former QPR man has time on his side and many feel Guardiola could be the man to return Sterling to top form.