With Eden Hazard winning the PFA’s Young Player of the Season, it’s once again risen the question as to what age should the Young Player award be limited to, and I believe it should be now older than 21, with Eden Hazard, aged 23, I believe shouldn’t have been in contention for the trophy, so my Young Player Team of the Season will consist of solely players aged 21 and under when the season started.
David De Gea
This is the only exception to the 21 and under rule I’ve put on this sight due to the distinct lack of goalkeepers under that age in the Premier League. David De Gea is the next best thing, and at 23 years old, he’s not far off. Despite Manchester United having one of their worst seasons in history, it’s surprising than the goalkeeper has been as consistent as he is. Defensively frail, United could’ve conceded a hell of a lot more goals if the tall Spaniard wasn’t between the sticks. A big season for De Gea, and with the World Cup on the horizon he can’t have done his chances of a World Cup spot, with such tough competition in the Spanish ranks.
The young Liverpool full-back has come into the side this season injuries to Jose Enrique and Glen Johnson throughout the season. Preferably a right-back, despite playing predominantly in the left-back role, Flanagan has slipped into the side and performed consistently. Above the talent and ability he’s showed this season, it’s his true passion for the club that has come through. Just 21 years old now, Flanagan has been at Liverpool since 2004, without having played for any other side. Whether Flanagan can keep a place in the Liverpool side next year when it comes to Champions League football is debatable, but his performances this season have been some of the best full back performances in the league.
The 19 year old centre back has grown massively throughout this season, making himself a regular in the Everton starting line-up ahead of some experienced Premier League defenders. His performances the last six months have no doubt given Roy Hodgson a headache as to whether to include the former Barnsley man. By watching his game, you’d have no idea that he was just 19 years old, with bags of strength, power and composure on the ball, Stones is everything the modern day centre back needs to possess. Even if he doesn’t quite make this summer’s World Cup squad, undoubtedly Stones will be a key feature for England over the next decade, with people already calling him out as a future England captain.
Having broken into the Southampton starting line-up during last season, Shaw’s performances this season have propelled him onto a new level. Still only 18 years old, Shaw made his way into the PFA Team of the Season and should, in my opinion, be on the plane to Brazil with England in a months time. Another defender who’s comfortable on the ball, and the more advanced, attacking full back we’re beginning to see more often, Shaw has all of those capabilities as well as being defensively capable, against some of the best wingers in the world. Having racked up his first England cap this season, the future looks bright for the Southampton left back. Regardless of the World Cup, it will a big summer for Shaw, with there being an almost 100% chance that someone will launch a bid for the youngster, with the main interest coming from Mourinho at Chelsea, and Manchester United.
Januzaj really broke onto the scene this season, making his Manchester United debut in the season curtain drawer in the Community Shield, and since then, he’s taken off. Not the best player in this side, not by a long way, with only 4 goals and 3 assists to his name, but in a difficult season for Manchester United, Januzaj has been one of very few bright sparks. Still only 19, Januzaj has been limited in his game time, making more substitute appearances than starts, playing mainly in a wide left role. Having chosen to represent Belgium instead of Albania, Januzaj will probably be looking towards Euro 2016, whilst fending off interest from the likes of PSG this summer.
The second Everton youngster to make the list, Barkley has been absolutely sensational this season. At just 20 years old, Barkley has been dominating the Everton midfield with his big 6”3 presence just in behind the striker. Showing strength, power and pace in abundance, Barkley has also put in a late claim for a World Cup spot. Although his performances have been top notch, massive credit has to go to Roberto Martinez for his use of the Barkley this season. Having made the odd appearance a few years ago, and two Championship loan spells last season, Barkley has not had a long period on the pitch, keeping him on the bench every now and then, keeping the youngster fit and performing well consistently.
Eriksen has been one of the best buys this season, and having just clocked over to 22 in February, he scrapes into my team. Never really hit the ground running under AVB, along with the other £100 million worth of players, but since the introduction of Tim Sherwood and subsequent use of Emmanuel Adebayor, Eriksen has shown the talent that had made him one of the most hotly sought after players in world football. In just 24 league games, many of them being substitute appearances under AVB, Eriksen has notched up 7 goals and 8 assists in his debut Premier League season. His pass completion of 82% this season puts him well into the top 10 in the league, and once again highlights Eriksen as being one of the best number 10 in the Premier League this season.
Someone who also pushed Eriksen close to being the best number 10 in the league this season was Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho. An absolute steal at £8.5million last season from Inter Milan, Coutinho has slipped into the Liverpool side and been a vital character in getting them as close to the title as they are. With fantastic vision and the passing ability to match, Coutinho put himself right in the mix for a Brazil World Cup spot, but after finding out yesterday he wasn’t picked by Scolari he can have a long summer, and come back next season refreshed, something that his national counterpart Oscar hasn’t have and that’s why his performances have dipped. Could be a good thing.
The third and final Liverpool player to make it into this team, Sterling has arguably been the best of the three. Having made his mark on the league last season, mainly off the bench, he’s come into his own this season, making himself a regular in the Liverpool side, bagging himself 9 goals and 5 assists in a magnificent season for the 19 year old. Born in Jamaica, Sterling already has 2 appearances for England and his performances this season have put him right in the fray for Hodgson’s squad. With bags of pace and trickery in his locker, there has been very few defenders who have been able to maintain Sterling, along with Suarez and Sturridge next to him.
Another one of the players on this list who really made a name for themselves last season, Lukaku has, like the rest, kicked on this year, and showed a new level of quality. He’s scored less goals this season than he did last year, but along with six assists he’s been involved in more goals than he was last season at West Brom. On loan from Chelsea, Lukaku has a massive future in the Premier League, and hopefully that can be at his parent club. As a Chelsea fan, the prospect of having Lukaku head a team is something I’m excited to see, with his power, strength and presence on the field , he is virtually impossible to stop once he gets going.
Only really in the side based on his current form in Sunderland’s ‘miracle’ survival in the last few weeks. 5 goals in just 9 Premier League starts this season is impressive for someone who had just 1 league goal in 28 games prior to this season. Good loan spells at Sheffield Wednesday in the last two years led Gus Poyet to taking a massive gamble and it’s more than paid off. Goals against Manchester City, Chelsea and Cardiff have propelled Sunderland from bottom, to safety and Poyet deserves great credit for giving the 21 year old a chance in the side, and I’m sure he’ll be there, up top come August.
So that’s it, my Young Players Team of the Season. No doubt that all of these players have bright futures ahead of them, and all of them have had magnificent seasons, whether it be top end of the league, or scraping it out at the bottom