Tyler Blackett – Manchester United
Tyler Blackett is being ear-marked for success by the Old Trafford faithful after watching him string a few impressive performances together in their pre-season tour of the USA. The 20-year old left-back played with confidence and with a remarkable sense of surety when he replaced Jonny Evans for the second half against Liverpool in the ICC cup final. The signing of Luke Shaw will not hamper Blackett’s chances of regular football as Van Gaal prefers to play Shaw as a wing back and Blackett as a left sided defender in his back three. Having previously enjoyed loan spells at Blackpool and Birmingham, the young defender looks likely to stay at Manchester this year, possibly getting his chance in the Premier League. Perhaps Van Gaal does not need Mats Hummels or Daley Blind?
Draws comparisons to – Eric Abidal
Liam Moore – Leicester City
Liam Moore, 21, plays primarily as a centre back for the newly promoted Leicester City. The young defender was a main stay in the Foxes defence last year and his inspired performances helped the midland club win the Sky Bet Championship and only concede a total of 43 goals. Alongside his captain Wes Morgan, Moore will be showcasing his talents and going head-to-head with some of the best attackers in the world playing in the Premier League. This year the defender will be hoping to lead his side to safety.
Draws comparisons to – Wes Morgan
Tom Ince – Hull City
Son of former England Captain, Paul, has a lot of promise and a famous footballing surname to help him on his way. But he is far from reaching the lofty heights his father was accustomed to. The 22-year old came through the Liverpool academy but really made his name playing for Blackpool. He played a big part in getting Blackpool to the Championship play off final in 2011/2012 campaign – a game which they lost to West Ham 2-1 despite the youngster scoring the only goal for the Tangerines. Following a transfer turmoil, which saw him heavily linked to Liverpool and even the Italian giants Inter Milan the winger has signed a long term contract for the more modest Hull City. Ince should be a first team regular and will hope that he can prove he can mix it with the best in the Premier League much like his dad.
Draws comparisons to – Theo Walcott
John Stones – Everton FC
After just a handful of performances for Everton last season John Stones was called up to the World cup squad as a reserve. Perhaps it showed England’s current lack of options at the centre back position but also shows how well this young Evertonian stepped up when covering for the injured Phil Jagielka last season. It also showed how highly England rate this young defender and their intention to fast track him into the international set-up. He is a young, commanding, strong player with an excellent temperament. Stones, 20, combines pace across the ground with his reading of the game and positioning to make almost the complete package. With Jagielka and Distin both on their last legs at Everton, Martinez will be employing Stones frequently at the heart of their defence. Big things are expected from this young lad and many say him and Steven Caulker will be wearing their England tops in defence for a long time to come.
Draws comparisons to – Jamie Carragher
James Ward-Prowse – Southampton FC
I have no doubt this young midfielder will be the next big thing to come out of the famous Southampton academy following in the footsteps of Gareth Bale, Theo Walcott and Luke Shaw. The versatile midfielder will be relied upon heavily in the Premier Leaguethis year after their summer exodus. At just 19, Ward-Prowse is already been talked about as David Beckham’s successor due to his mastery when it comes to dead ball situations. I expect him to score at least 10 goals this year in the league with at least half of them from free kicks.
Draws comparisons to – David Beckham
Jordan Ibe – Liverpool FC
At the age of 12, Ibe was released from the Charlton Athletic and was signed up by the Wycombe Wanderers academy. His talent and potential was clear to see and Liverpool were keen to secure his services and did so paying a massive £500,000 for the then 16-year old. The winger has electric pace and upper body strength and under the guidance of Brendan Rodgers this year Ibe will be making a few headlines at Anfield, possibly getting his chance in the occasional Premier League game. To think, what Charlton wouldn’t do now to sign Ibe back now.
Draws comparisons to – John Barnes
Bojan Krkic – Stoke City
Not many players who are compared to Leo Messi at the age of 20 end up signing for Stoke City 3 years later. But thats exactly what has happened to Bojan Krkic – the 23-year old Spanish winger. The youngster has signed a four year contract for the Potters and will hope regular football will finally help him fulfill his undeniable potential and promise. Whenever Messi’s achievements are mentioned there is always one question which remains unanswered – “Can he do it on a cold, wet, windy night at Stoke?” and realistically we will never find out. But now much to the excitement of football fans around the world we will at least find out if the ’next Messi’ can hack it at the Britannia. I personally think he can.
Draws comparisons to – Leo Messi.
Calum Chambers – Arsenal FC
Bemused fans everywhere asked questions as to why Arsene Wenger had signed two first team right backs in Matheiu Debuchy and Calum Chambers for over £30 million pounds. But now we know Wenger plans to play Chambers as a centre back and turn him into the next Tony Adams – so no pressure then. Chambers, 19, another Southampton academy graduate made his Arsenal debut against Manchester City last weekend in the Community shield and for most parts looked remarkably at home in the centre of defence. However he will compete with Per Mertesacker, a World cup winner, and Laurent Koscielny for the starting berth so might see his chances being limited to the lesser fixtures or filling in for injuries. I personally think his move to Arsenal was maybe a couple of years too soon to fully break into their first choice Premier League side. But with backing and praises from many big names in the football world it is virtually impossible to leave him off this list.
Draws comparisons to – Tony Adams
Luke Shaw – Manchester United
Some would argue Luke Shaw has already broken through and established and shouldn’t be on this list, and his £30m price tag (Highest ever for a teenager) would certainly back that. I disagree, At only 19 there is still a long way to go for this young left back and he will only get better with age and experience. Shaw proved his worth last year at Southampton and his form was rewarded with a place on the World cup squad ahead of England veteran Ashley Cole. Luke Shaw now needs to play the fearless football that has got him this far and breakthrough this season not only as one of the best English left backs but as one of the best in the league and the world. Van Gaal will play him as a wing back in a 5 man midfield allowing him to play further up field than at St. Mary’s and this subtle change in position is what I believe will be key in elevating Luke Shaw’s fine reputation as a potentially great defender for many years to come in the Premier League.
Draws comparisons to – Ashley Cole
Philippe Coutinho – Liverpool FC
Last year it was the Luis Suarez show at Anfield, this year it could easily be the Philippe Coutinho show. Written off by Inter Milan and by many pundits claiming the young Brazilian does not have the strength and fitness to succeed in the Premier League. Two years on, the ‘Magician’ as fellow players call him is looking to help the reds repeat their successful campaign of last year and go one better. At times last season Coutinho was used from the bench to accommodate Suarez who liked to play the deep lying striker role but this year the 22 year old will definitely be one of the first names on the team sheet. From pre-season he looks sharp and quick, and looks to have improved his decision making and his final ball quality which stood out in the biggest of Premier League matches. After bizarrely missing out for the Brazilian World cup squad in the summer, Coutinho will be hungrier than ever to claim his stake and show the world he can be the big next Brazilian world beater.
Draws comparisons to – Ronaldinho