Top 5 academy graduates outside of the 'Big Six' | Premier League 2019-20
- The Premier League's 'Big Six' aren't the only clubs to produce great academy players - here are 5 of the best from other sides.
The 2019-20 season in the Premier League has been notable for a number of reasons – Liverpool’s incredible run at the top of the table, the surprising rise of Sheffield United, and numerous clubs including Tottenham and Arsenal changing their manager – but one of the most intriguing things to watch has been the rise in clubs using academy products in their first team.
From Chelsea’s Tammy Abraham and Mason Mount to Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka, Manchester United’s Mason Greenwood and Tottenham’s Japhet Tanganga, it seems that all of the Premier League’s top sides now have products of their youth system in their starting XI.
Not all of the top flight’s best youngsters play for its biggest clubs, though; here are 5 of the Premier League’s best academy products from outside of the ‘Big Six’.
#1 Jack Grealish (Aston Villa)
Despite newly-promoted Aston Villa struggling for Premier League traction this season, the Midlands club can still call upon perhaps the best player outside the ‘Big Six’ in the form of their academy product Jack Grealish. One of the league’s most dangerous attackers, the 24-year old has had no problem adjusting to the top flight, scoring 7 goals and registering 6 assists in 25 games thus far.
The 24-year old attacking midfielder – a lifelong Villa fan – first signed with his local club at the age of 6, and worked his way up through the club’s various youth sides before spending the 2013-14 season on loan at Notts County. It was 2014-15 that saw him really burst onto the scene, though, as his exciting performances helped Villa to the FA Cup final and made him into a cult hero with the fans.
Grealish’s reputation slipped somewhat in the subsequent seasons, as his off-field behaviour was called into question and he picked up some injuries as Villa were relegated into the EFL Championship, but his return from another injury in 2018-19 inspired the club on a lengthy unbeaten run that culminated in their promotion.
The youngster was handed the club’s captaincy in the process, and has taken the responsibility on his shoulders, often carrying his team through tricky situations with his creativity, dribbling abilities and penchant for drawing fouls.
Without Grealish, Villa may well have ended up in far more trouble than they currently are. How much longer they can keep him is anyone’s guess, but if they can avoid relegation, they may not need to sell him just yet.