Euro 2020 Special
 

Premier League: Who are the Top Young Talents This Season?

From Glenn Hoddle and Ian Rush to Paul Gascoigne, Matt Le Tissier and Ryan Giggs right through to more recent winners such as Dele Alli and last year’s recipient Trent Alexander-Arnold, the PFA Young Player of the Year has been awarded to some of the most stellar names ever to showcase English football’s top-flight.

Indeed, the majority of former young footballers of the year, as chosen by their peers, have gone onto achieve great things.

Now the Premier League’s personnel have voted once more and we are about to find out who is crowned 2020/21 winner.

So here are my tips for the accolade in what must be one of the closest votes for years.

Phil Foden (Manchester City)

Premier League: Phil Foden has stepped up his game and becomes one of the best young players today
Phil Foden celebrates with Kevin De Bruyne after scoring a goal for Manchester City

Foden gets my vote if I had one.

This is as much down to his performances for the newly crowned champions in the Champions League, where he has made some crucial interventions to fire City to their first ever European Cup Final.

He was already regarded as one of the best young players in England. With seven goals and five assists in 25 Premier League appearances this term – alongside his European cameos – that certainly gives him the edge.

Marcus Rashford (Manchester United)

Across the city, Rashford deserves the title man of the year as much for his exploits off the pitch as on it.

His efforts in tackling child food poverty have been as decisive as they have been admirable, although that hasn’t stopped him putting in a tireless effort whenever he pulls on the famous shirt.

Not only has the 23-year-old been a key cog in attack for the Red Devils with his pace and dribbling ability creating problems to opposition defences, but he is the first United player to score 20+ goals in consecutive seasons since Wayne Rooney in 2010.

But for his injuries this season he could well have been my first choice, yet the fact he has played through the pain barrier at times shows how important he is to the cause.

That’s quite an impact on both counts.

Ruben Dias (Manchester City)

Also a contender for the main award, City signed Dias from Benfica for a fee of £61.5 million immediately after a 5-2 thrashing at home by Leicester City.

The Portugal international has flourished since and has been as key a component as any in City’s triumph.

If they add the Champions League to their Premier League and League Cup successes, Dias could become a contender for the Ballon d’Or too.

I suspect though he will narrowly miss out on both this and the senior PFA award.

Cristiano Ronaldo is the only player to ever have won all four major individual awards in the same season (2006-07 for Manchester United).

Dominic Calvert-Lewin (Everton)

With 14 goals in 26 league appearances, Calvert-Lewin has enjoyed his best season to date in Everton blue.

He has gained a real lease of life leading the line for the Toffees under Carlo Ancelotti, to such an extent that he is a certainty to be named in the England Euro 2020 squad. He could even be boss Gareth Southgate’s second choice centre-forward behind captain Harry Kane.

While Everton’s season has tailed off to the degree that they are almost certain to miss out on a European spot next season, that is not a reflection on Calvert-Lewin’s contribution.

Mason Mount (Chelsea)

He won’t win the honour but he deserves a place on my shortlist. For both club and country, his current form has made him a regular starter.

The versatile Mount has risen through the ranks in the Chelsea academy with 33 Premier League appearances so far in which he has netted six times and provided five assists.

He could yet end the season as a champion of Europe.

Other honorable mentions

Although they don’t make my top five, three other talented young players warrant a mention.

In a generally miserable season for Arsenal, the emergence of Emile Smith Rowe and the form of Bukayo Saka can be counted among the few positives in 202/21 and provide fans of the Gunners with reasons for cautious optimism.

Likewise, but for injury, Harvey Barnes would have probably been playing in the FA Cup Final for Leicester at the weekend.

His nine goals and four assists in 25 league appearances clearly mark him out as one to watch and, once fit, will almost certainly add to the first England cap he won last autumn.

Who makes your shortlist?