Which supremely talented boys will mature into men in 2013/14?…
In a week where FA chairman Gregg Dyke lamented the state of the national game and a scarcity of English talent being produced in the Premier League, he overlooked the teenage stars already established in England’s top-flight.
In fact three young Lions feature heavily in the list of youngsters fanatix feel can come of age this season.
1. Raheem Sterling
Despite a slew of off-the-field misdemeanours that have overshadowed his short career, Sterling has proven to be one of Liverpool’s brightest young prospects since breaking into the first team last season. The 18-year-old has already made his senior England debut, but increased competition at club level in 2013/14 could be the making of him as a player.
2. Ross Barkley
The 19-year-old is a Rolls Royce-type midfielder and is considered one of the brightest talents currently emerging in English football. Made his Three Lions debut in the recent World Cup qualifier against Moldova after an impressive start to the season, that included a stunning goal against Norwich on the opening day, and looks set to become a central figure for Roberto Martinez in his first season at Goodison Park.
3. Gerard Deulofeu
Everton’s capture of the gifted 19-year-old Spaniard on a loan deal from Barcelona was regarded as one of the coups of the summer transfer window. Although used sparingly in the formative days of his temporary stay in Merseyside, an excellent goal in the League Cup win over Stevenage offered a tiny glimpse of his talent from the wing.
4. Serge Gnabry
The 19-year-old German is very highly regarded by Arsene Wenger and the coaching staff at the Emirates Stadium, demonstrated by his promotion to the first-team for the 2013/14 season. Featuring four times for the Gunners last season, Gnabry impressed supporters with the invention and industry on the left wing and could be a useful option for Wenger in cup competitions this season.
5. Luke Shaw
After bursting onto the Premier League scene last season, Shaw is now a Premier League regular at just 18 having nailed down the left-back spot at Southampton. However, unlike many of his peers in the top-flight Shaw is yet to be rewarded with England honours, although many consider him the third-in-line to Ashley Cole’s throne behind Leighton Baines.