Premier League: Best Breakthrough XI this season
- A look at eleven of the brightest young talents to have shone in the Premier League this season.
- A few of them have gone on to make their international debuts as well.
Many young players have burst on to the scene in the English Premier League (EPL) this season, making their presence felt on the field with some impressive performances.
With limited opportunities youngsters receive in the EPL, some of the young starlets often go under the radar, playing in the reserves or struggling for consistency across multiple loan spells.
However, a budding talent suddenly emerges out of nowhere and explodes onto the scene, taking everyone by surprise. These young players make the headlines and are immediately labelled as 'the next big thing', 'the next Messi' or 'the next Ronaldo'.
With only nine rounds of games left this season, and the EPL being suspended owing to the COVID-19 outbreak, it is an excellent time to reflect on the youngsters enjoying a breakthrough season. On this note, let us look at players who feature in the Premier League breakthrough XI.
Premier League breakthrough XI
#Goalkeeper: Dean Henderson (Sheffield United)
Dean Henderson has been Sheffield United's man between the sticks for two seasons. After Sheffield's promotion to the Premier League, Henderson has proved he can do it at a higher level too.
The 23-year-old has taken to the Premier League like a duck to water, with the Blades conceding only 25 goals in 28 games. Only Liverpool have conceded fewer goals than Sheffield United in the Premier League this season.
The England U-23 goalkeeper has ten clean sheets to his name and sits top of the Premier League charts for most clean sheets in 2019-20.
Due to his stellar performances, the on-loan Manchester United goalkeeper has been tipped for a place in England's Euro 2020 squad. Many top football pundits expect Henderson to eventually become Manchester United's number one after replacing David de Gea.
Standout moment: The Englishman produced an outstanding point-blank save against Liverpool in a Premier League game that is widely regarded as the save of the season.
Left-Back: Brandon Williams (Manchester United)
Brandon Williams has seemingly come from nowhere to take many at Manchester United by surprise in the Premier League this season.
Williams has established himself as a fan favourite at Old Trafford during his breakthrough Premier League season in 2019-20, with the local lad earning praise for his impressive and tenacious performances.
With Luke Shaw struggling with injuries, the 19-year-old was given a chance in the first team against Rochdale in the Carabao Cup and has not looked back since. Williams has made such an impact at United that the club has scrapped plans to sign a new left-back.
Ever since winning the trust of Ole Gunnar Solksjaer, Williams has gone on to make 27 appearances, scoring a goal in the process. The teenager has been a rock at the back, and his impressive defensive performances have helped United keep 12 clean sheets since the start of the year.
Manchester United legend Patrice Evra has tipped the 19-year-old to achieve more incredible things in the future. Many United fans have even compared Williams with the likes of Dennis Irwin.
Standout Moment: Williams' goal against Sheffield United at Bramall Lane helped United rescue a point in a Premier League game.
Right-Back: Reece James (Chelsea)
Frank Lampard has not shied away from fielding Academy graduates who have evolved their game enough to merit a place in the Chelsea first team.
Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount and Fikayo Tomori have all benefited from their manager's approach to promoting youth. Yet it is Reece James' story that has arguably stood out.
James has made 26 appearances in all competitions for Chelsea this season, scoring two goals and providing two assists. He's hungry for the ball and is a specialist in taking set-pieces while he also possesses good defensive traits. Lampard has used James as a defensive midfielder in a few Premier League games this season which shows the youngster's versatility.
Establishing himself as a first-team regular, James has emerged as an obvious candidate to make Gareth Southgate's England team for Euro 2020. Several pundits predict James to play a critical role in England's bid for European silverware.
Standout Moment: James marked his first appearance for the Chelsea first team with a goal against Grimsby Town in the Carabao Cup.
Centre Back - Fikayo Tomori (Chelsea)
With Chelsea amid a transfer ban, youngsters such as Fikayo Tomori, Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham have been crucial for the Blues.
The 21-year-old Tomori shone last season at Derby. But his ability to step up and perform in the Premier League has led to the young defender receiving plaudits.
The Chelsea centre-back has a muscular physique, is excellent in the air, adept in interceptions and is a strong tackler of the ball. Tomori has featured 21 times in England's top flight this season, scoring once against Wolves in September.
According to Whoscored, Tomori wins 2.3 aerial duels per match and has a pass percentage of 88%. These stats highlight the fact that he is good on the ball.
Tomori's performances have caught the eyes of Gareth Southgate who awarded him with a first international cap. Tomori came on as a late substitute in England's 4-0 Euro 2020 qualifying win over Kosovo.
Standout moment: Tomori netted his first senior goal for the Blues in a Premier League game against Wolves earlier in the season, curling the ball from 30 yards into the top corner.
Centre Back: Caglar Soyuncu (Leicester City)
After Harry Maguire left Leicester City, many thought the Foxes' defence would be weakened. However, Caglar Soyuncu, with a string of superb performances, has made sure that Maguire is but a distant memory at the King Power Stadium.
At just 23 years of age, the Turkish international plays with composure beyond his age and his no-nonsense style has led to Leicester conceding only 30 goals in Premier League games this term. Dominant in the air and assured with the ball at his feet, Soyuncu has been vital to a Leicester side that occupies the third position in the Premier League this season.
According to stats from Whoscored, the 23-year-old has played 28 games for Leicester in the Premier League this season. During these games, the defender has had a successful pass percentage of 89.5% which is better than what many of the established defenders in the Premier League have garnered this season.
His dominant performances make Soyuncu a strong contender for the Premier League "Player Of The Year" at the end of season awards.
Standout moment: Soyuncu scored his first goal for the Foxes in a Premier League game against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.
Central Midfield: Mason Mount (Chelsea)
Like Tomori, Mason Mount showed his talent at Derby County last term. Mount's ability to step up and perform on the big stage has grabbed everyone's attention.
The Chelsea youngster has had a breakthrough Premier League season at Stamford Bridge this season. The Blues' youngster made his debut at Stamford Bridge at the start of this season and has gone on to become a key player for Frank Lampard.
Mount has made 41 appearances in all competitions for Chelsea in 2019-20, scoring six goals and providing five assists. He's hungry for possession and looks to turn possession into goals. Passing, dribbling or shooting, Mount does them all.
Mason Mount was rewarded with an England call-up after his impressive early-season form for Chelsea. He made his international debut for England, coming on as a second-half substitute in the 4-0 European qualifier win over Bulgaria in September.
Standout Moment: A goal on his home debut against Leicester City remains the standout moment in the Premier League for Mason Mount.
Central Midfield: Scott McTominay (Manchester United)
Scott McTominay has become a critical central midfielder for Manchester United. This is despite United squad boasting the likes of World Cup winner Paul Pogba and £ 52 million Fred in their ranks
With Pogba not playing enough games due to injury and Fred struggling to impose himself in the Premier League, the 23-year-old McTominay's improvement has been much welcomed by United fans.
The Scottish midfielder has made forty appearances in all competitions for Manchester United this season, scoring five goals and assisting one. He ranks second in tackles and third in touches by a Manchester United player this season, attributes that showcase the stout defensive side of his game. McTominay is a player-driven by passion and is always willing to help the team be it in defence or attack.
Since his debut in 2018, Scott McTominay has gone on to make 12 appearances for his national team. Impressive performances at United have made McTominay a regular for Scotland. The youngster is expected to play a vital role for Scotland if they are to qualify for Euro 2020.
Standout moment: McTominay put his stamp in a Premier League game against Manchester City at Old Trafford, rifling a goal from thirty yards to grab the winner.
Left-Wing - Bukayo Saka (Arsenal)
Arsenal's Bukayo Saka is emerging as one of the brightest young talents in the Premier League. He has been one of the Gunners' positive sparks in an unimpressive season.
The youngster has had a breakthrough Premier League season at the Emirates in 2019-20. With Mesut Ozil and big summer signing Pepe failing to deliver consistent performances, the 18-year-old's has stepped up much to the delight of the home fans.
Saka, who possesses electric pace and a killer final ball, has made thirty appearances across all competitions for Arsenal this season, scoring four goals and assisting eight.
He's capable of playing anywhere in the front three but has proven his worth in stretching opposition defences down the left-wing. For the majority of the season, Saka has been used as a makeshift left-back due to the injuries Sead Kolasinac and Kieran Tierney.
Saka's impressive performances on the pitch have made him a contender for "Player Of The Season" award at Arsenal, where he would compete with the likes of Pierre Emerick Aubameyang and Bernd Leno.
Alexandre Lacazette, Arsenal's no 9, rates Saka as one of the best young players in the Premier League.
Standout Moment: The teenagers' goal and two assists against Frankfurt helped Arsenal qualify for the Round of 32 in the Europa League.
Right Wing: Mason Greenwood (Manchester United)
Some eyebrows were raised when Ole Gunnar Solksjaer sanctioned the departures of Alexis Sanchez and Romelu Lukaku in the summer. But instead of bringing in big-money replacements, the Manchester United manager instead put his faith in Academy graduate Mason Greenwood.
The Norwegian's decision now appears to be vindicated, with Greenwood having already scored more goals than Sanchez did during his time at Old Trafford.
The 18-year-old Greenwood has enjoyed a scintillating debut campaign as a first-team member of United's squad, scoring twelve goals in all competitions. Most of his goals have come off the bench. The 17-year-old netted 26 goals in thirty appearances last season across various youth and senior competitions for Manchester United.
Greenwood is a fleet-footed forward who can comfortably take penalties on either foot and has scored goals with both feet this season. Manchester United fans and football pundits compare him with the likes of Robin van Persie and Ryan Giggs.
Standout Moment: Mason Greenwood's late goal against FC Astana in the Europa League helped Manchester United register a win.
Striker: Gabriel Martinelli (Arsenal)
Gabriel Martinelli has been a revelation for Arsenal this season. The forward has quickly become a reason for massive excitement among the club's supporters despite their struggles in the Premier League this season.
Signed from Brazilian side Ituano for just £ 6 million, Martinelli's impact has seen him become an automatic starter for Mikel Arteta's side. The 18-year-old has netted ten goals in 26 appearances in his first season in English football.
The Brazilian is the highest scorer in the squad behind Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Martinelli has flourished in Aubameyang's absence in various games, scoring two goals during the Gabonese forward's suspension earlier this year.
Martinelli is a part of a promising core of young talent at the Emirates and would hope to continue his seemingly seamless adaptation to life in the Premier League. At 18 years of age, the sky is the limit for the talented forward. Jurgen Klopp, Liverpool's manager, has dubbed the young forward as 'Talent of the Century'.
Standout Moment: Martinelli's stunning solo goal against rivals Chelsea in a Premier League game at Stamford Bridge helped 10-man Arsenal salvage a point.
Striker: Tammy Abraham (Chelsea)
Tammy Abraham has emerged as Chelsea's talisman thanks to a breakthrough season that has seen his side in fourth position in the Premier League.
Just 18 months ago, Abraham was one of a host of Chelsea players packed off for yet another loan spell. It seemed to indicate that his chances of shining with the Blues were slim. But his time in the Championship with Aston Villa proved the making of the young striker and Chelsea are reaping the rewards.
Now Abraham stands as the undisputed leader of Chelsea's attack, with his significant presence and predatory instincts making him a vital cog of Frank Lampard's precocious team.
The 22-year-old forward has made 32 appearances for the Blues this season, scoring 15 goals and providing three assists. Abraham was rewarded with an England call-up after his impressive early-season form for the Blues. He claimed his first senior international goal against Montenegro in a Euro 2020 qualifying game.
Standout Moment: Tammy Abraham's late winner in a Premier League game against arch-rivals Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium helped Chelsea claim all three points.