20 Players To Watch In The Premier League Next Season
20 Players to watch in the Premier League next season
As one Premier League season comes to an end, another one looms just around the corner and one of the most exciting aspects of approaching a new season is discovering which teams have strengthened and where.
As with many sports franchises around the world, soccer teams are constantly using seasons to gauge just which areas of their teams need strengthening, and watching the transfer window unfold can be fascinating
Also, as with many other sports, soccer is constantly blooding young up-and-coming prospects in order to prepare them for the forthcoming inevitable baptism of fire awaiting them.
Promoting young players from within can prove to be invaluable to a team for a number of reasons, one of many being that they are already indoctrinated with the clubs' philosophies and values. The second is the cost. Young, highly-rated players always come at a premium and are more likely to swallow up most of a club's transfer budget and leave the club short of funds.
You only have to look at 21-year-old Brazilian forward Neymar to see what I’m saying, as some media reports coming out have put his transfer fee in the region of $129.3 million. If true, that’s a staggering fee for a 21-year-old
It makes more sense for clubs to recruit internally sometimes; therefore, let’s take a look at the outstanding young prospects for each Premier League club as we count down the 20 players expected to make an impact in the upcoming 2014 soccer season
James Hilton is a soccer writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter , "like" his Facebook page or add him to your network on Google+
Arsenal: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
The 19-year-old forward burst onto the scene with Southampton in 2011 and then transferred to Arsenal, where he became the youngest goal scorer ever in the Champions League. Oxlade-Chamberlain scored twice in his first three games for Arsenal, leading to comparisons with a young Wayne Rooney due to his bullish, physical style. "The Ox" will be hoping he gets more playing time this year to prove that he can mix it at the top table.
Aston Villa: Matthew Lowton
Matthew Lowton was signed by Paul Lambert in 2012 primarily to be a full back, but Lowton is comfortable in any defensive position. Having him play 37 games for the first team this year just goes to show how valuable Lowton is to the cause, and his screaming 35-yard volley against Stoke City shows how good his technique is.
Cardiff City: Kim Bo-Kyung
South Korean dynamo Kim Bo-Kyung is an attacking midfielder who likes to drift all over the front line. Bo-Kyung is comfortable on either wing as well and combines pace with flair, making him a threat from either flank. Cardiff manager Malky Mackay recently described the South Korean as "an all-action midfielder, comfortable on either wing", so there's no doubt Bo-Kyung is integral to Cardiff's plans next season.
Chelsea: Romelu Lukaku
The Belgian powerhouse has had a stunning season on loan at West Brom, culminating in a hat trick against champions Manchester United on the final day of the Premier League. Jose Mourinho has even lined up Lukaku to be involved more with Chelsea next year with a view to turning him into the new Didier Drodba. Lukaku definitely has the power and the prowess necessary to make a big impact next year in the league.
Crystal Palace: Jonathan Williams
Jonathan Williams has made over 40 appearances for Crystal Palace since breaking into the first team in 2011, making him a mainstay of the first team who also started the playoff final on Monday against Watford. Williams is adept with both feet, leading to manager Ian Holloway calling him, "our David Silva". Palace may struggle to hold onto the highly-rated 19-year-old with Manchester City and Cardiff both waiting with potential bids.
Everton: Ross Barkley
New Manchester United boss David Moyes wants to make star-in-the-making Ross Barkley his first signing amid rumors of an impending £12 million bid in the summer. Having played under Moyes at Everton, Barkley may be keen to link up with his previous manager but one thing is certain: the attacking midfielder is hot property at the minute, and will no doubt be one to watch during the 2013/14 season.
Fulham: Matthew Briggs
The 6-foot-2 marauding left back is tipped for a bright future at Fulham and is currently on loan at Championship side Watford, where he has been described by manager Gianfranco Zola as "solid yet composed." Briggs is only 22 and has the stature of an already established left back. He brings calm and stability to a back line, as well as passing ability and a willingness to charge out from the back and start attacks. This ability will no doubt mean he will challenge John Arne-Riise more for the left back berth this season.
Hull City: Tom Davie
Tom Davie is another of those rampaging left backs who is hotly-tipped to be involved a bit more during Hull City's upcoming Premier League campaign. Davie is an accomplished player, having been at Hull since he was nine-years old and is being tipped by manager Steve Bruce as one to watch this season. A forward-thinking left back, Davie is hoping to make a name for himself this year by showcasing his passing and attacking ability.
Liverpool: Raheem Sterling
Described by many as one of the brightest up-and=coming talents in the Premier League, Sterling showed glimpses of his brilliance last season, which was unfortunately curtailed by injury towards the end of the year. Sterling resisted advances from both Manchester clubs last season to stay with Liverpool, and his tenacity was repaid with several starts in the league. Sterling combines lightning pace with trickery, and gets into attacking positions to support the forwards so much so that he almost plays as an auxiliary striker.
Manchester City: Matija Nastasic
Matija Nastasic is a Serbian center back playing for Manchester City. Nastasic has been hailed in the past for his excellent passing range, speed and composure on the ball and will no doubt be one to watch this season as he looks to build a solid partnership with Vincent Kompany.
Manchester United: Wilifried Zaha
Wilifried Zaha comes into the Manchester United fold already boasting a glowing reputation, yet that reputation has only been enhanced after his stellar showing against Watford in the playoff final. The £15 million that United paid for the winger looks entirely justified as he possesses a potent mix of skill and power, and is definitely one to watch next season, especially as Ryan Giggs looks set to retire and Nani will be sold.
Newcastle United: Gael Bigirimana
The 2012 Championship Apprentice of the Year winner is such a hot property at the minute that Newcastle had to act fast to sign the Burundi-born teenager. 19-year=old Gael Bigirimana is a tenacious midfielder widely praised for his work ethic and strength in midfield. Expect Bigirimana to to play more of a central midfield role next season and really show what he can do.
Norwich City: Robert Snodgrass
Comfortable playing as a winger on either side or even as a forward, Robert Snodgrass has had a magnificent season for the Canaries, culminating in him becoming runner-up in Norwich's player of the year 2012/13. Snodgrass's flair and style are reminiscent of a typical No. 7, and his exciting performances have earned him high accolades, making him one to watch next season.
Southampton: James Ward-Prowse
The sublimely confident James Ward-Prowse made his Premier League debut for Southampton in 2012 — against Manchester City no less — and didn't look out of place. His ability on the ball caught the eye of then-manager Nigel Adkins, who made a point of marking him out as one for the future, and Ward-Prowse looks a very exciting prospect indeed.
Stoke City: Ryan Shawcross
Ryan Shawcross' good form for Stoke has made him one of the Premier Leagues' most sought-after defenders, with Manchester City the latest club to be linked with him. The 25-year-old is one of the best defenders in the league at the minute, so it's no surprise he will form part of Stoke's back line next season unless he transfers to another club such is the interest in him. Shawcross is a typically tough tackling defender who will no doubt attract serious attention this year from other clubs.
Sunderland: Connor Wickham
Connor Wickham is hoping that next year will be when he finally realizes his full potential after his £8 million move from Ipswich in 2011. The 20-year-old has been in and out of the Sunderland side recently, and new boss Paolo Di Canio insists it's time for him to start showing what he's capable of. Wickham has bags of potential, and it was enough to prompt Liverpool to show interest in the striker before he eventually signed for Sunderland. Wickham has to improve next year, and there will be many eager onlookers ready to poach him should he have a good season.
Swansea: Ben Davies
Ever since defensive mainstay Neil Taylor got injured, 20-year-old Ben Davies has been deputizing for him, and what a standout job he has been doing. The young left back has gone on to show just how good he is by making over 30 appearances for the Swansea first team, and it may actually be hard for Taylor to get his place back — such has been the impact made by Davies.
Tottenham Hotspurs: Souleymane Coulibaly
One of the most highly-rated youngsters on this list, Souleymane Coulibaly persuaded the Spurs to sign him following his golden boot-winning performance during the FIFA under-17 World Cup. Having had a great run in the NextGen series, there are whispers in London that the 18-year-old Ivorian may be ready for the first team sooner rather than later. Expect several substitute appearances next year.
West Bromwich Albion: Isiah Brown
Another very highly-rated youngster currently on display in the Premier League is Isiah Brown, the 16-year-old West Bromwich Albion star who made his first team debut recently against Wigan. Such is the hype surrounding young Brown that big guns Arsenal and Chelsea are reportedly in a tug of war over him with Arsene Wenger set to test West Brom's resolve with a £1 million summer bid. Apparently, should his soccer career not work out, Brown's running times are also on par with that of a professional sprinter.
West Ham: Dan Potts
19-year-old Dan Potts has just broken into the West Ham first team, and looks set to have a stellar career as a left back. The Romford-born fullback is technically capable, and is set to continue more regularly as fullback next season. In May 2012, Potts was named Young Hammer of the Year and having heard his fellow professionals talk about him, I'm sure that'll be the first of many accolades.