This is a list comprising the best players in the Premier League that will be 23 or under when the new season kicks off on the 9th August. As it is a top 10, some very good players have had to miss out, so honourable mentions to Rúben Neves, Lewis Cook, Issa Diop, Jack Grealish and Phil Foden of Wolves, Bournemouth, West Ham, Aston Villa and Man City respectively.
10) Ruben Loftus-Cheek, 23 years-old:
The Englishman had struggled with game time at Stamford Bridge but after impressing on loan at Crystal Palace during the 2017/18 season in which he completed 1.8 tackles and interceptions, 1.3 shots (only 0.4 from outside the box), 1.1 key passes and a huge 3 dribbles per 90 which led to him getting fouled 2.6 times per 90, all of these contributions earnt him 2 goals and 3 assists in 1875 minutes which included 21 league starts however his xG was 3.45 and his xA was 3.25 showing he was a bit unlucky. His stats show his all-round game and his work rate whilst also showcasing his natural ability with 3 dribbles per 90, 0.9 less than Lionel Messi in the 2018/19 La Liga season.
He was able to build upon this in the 2018/19 season with Chelsea as he clocked up 985 minutes as he started 6 matches and came off the bench 18 times as Sarri was easing him into the side but under Frank Lampard he will have more consistent game time as he is sure to be more prominent in the setup once he returns from injury. In his 985 league minutes, he scored 6 and assisted his teammates twice as he overperformed xG by 2.76 and xA by 1 which shows he got the rub of the green so to speak, this means he averages a goal contribution every 123 minutes but that has to be taken with a pinch of salt as it’s a limited sample size, he’s often coming on against tired defences and he’s had inconsistent game time so if Lampard wants give him a bigger role at Chelsea, we could see a better version of the 2017/18 Loftus-Cheek.
9) Pablo Fornals, 23-years-old:
The Spaniard has joined West Ham from Villarreal for £25 million after a disappointing season as the Yellow Submarine finished 14th as Fornals played 2483 minutes and scored 2 whilst getting 3 assists however his xG was closer to 4 and his xA was about 5.5. West Ham haven’t bought him off the 2018/19 season as in 2017/18 he scored 3 and got 12 assists in his first season at Villarreal with his xG being 3.14 and his xA being 9.29 which are still very impressive underlying numbers. During the 2017/18 season, he played 2623 league minutes and he averaged 2.1 tackles and interceptions, 1.5 shots (0.7 from outside the box showing his immaturity and his shooting position needing to be improved), 1.5 key passes and 0.8 dribbles with a respectable 53% success rate per 90.
In the 2018/19 season, his dribbling improved showing he is maturing as he completed 1.1 dribbles per 90 with a much healthier 61% success rate. However, it was in the under 21 Euros this summer is when he came into fruition and into the public eye as he played a big part in the tournament. He clocked up 320 minutes as he scored 2 and got an assist whilst averaging 2.4 shots (only 0.6 from outside the box showing maturity in shooting location), 1.8 key passes whilst keeping a good 88.1% pass accuracy, 1.2 dribbles with a 60% success rate as well as 2 tackles and interceptions per 90 as his nation went on to win the competition.
8) Diogo Jota, 22-years-old:
Diogo is coming off his second season at Wolves, his first in the Premier League, as he really showed his quality in England’s top flight. In 2372 minutes, he scored 9 goals and 5 assists meaning he’s averaging a goal contribution every 169 minutes. Wolves only scored 47 goals and as Jota had 14 goal contributions, this means he was directly involved in 29.8% of their goals despite featuring in 69% of the available minutes. His xG was 8.91 and his xA was 5.54 showing he was near enough spot on with his underlying stats so no luck either side.
In his 2372 minutes, the former Atletico Madrid man averaged 1.8 shots (only 0.3 from outside the box showing great shot location), 0.8 key passes, 1.7 dribbles with a low 47% success rate showing he needs to pick more carefully when to take his man on, this immaturity and lack of good decision is backed up with his 11 yellow cards which included 3 in his last 3 appearances of the season, along with his 75.6% pass accuracy which is expected to be low due to him being an attacking player but that is too low. Diogo played as a left winger, striker and even an attacking midfielder for Wolves during the 2018/19 season showing his versatility and ability to plug gaps in attacking positions.
7) Youri Tielemans, 22-years-old:
Leicester’s club record signing is the first of their 3 midfielders in this list. In the 2018/19 season, he clocked up 1092 minutes at Leicester despite joining on loan in January in which he scored 3 and got 4 assists whilst his xG was 2.06 and his xA was 2.50 showing he got the rub of the green however over the course of the season that would level out more as his 1092 minutes is a small sample size. In just his 13 league starts he quickly impressed and became a fan favouite.
In his 1092 minutes, he averaged 2.4 shots (1.8 from outside the box showing he really backs himself but Brendan Rodgers will have to coach that out of him and improve his shot location), 1.2 key passes, 0.9 dribbles with a 64.3% success rate (showing he knows when to take his man on), 49.3 passes with an 85% pass accuracy along with 1.7 tackles and interceptions per 90.
6) Marcus Rashford, 21-years-old:
For a player who only got his chance due to injuries and lack of depth for Man United in 2015/16 under Van Gaal, Rashford has done well to remain in the first team for the seasons following due to him taking his chances when he starts as well as his work ethic, this and him coming through Man United’s youth academy has made him a fan favourite at Old Trafford. He played 2345 minutes during the 2018/19 season and in those minutes he payed all along the front line showing his versatility and desire to play.
In his 2345 he scored 10 and got 6 assists, his xG was 11.61 and his xA was 5.27 so he was about on track for his goal contributions. This is because he averaged 2.5 shots (1.1 from outside the box which is good for an attacker of his age but clear room for improvement in the decision making), 1.2 key passes, 1.3 dribbles with a 50% success rate which led to him drawing 1.6 fouls and 20.2 passes with a 78.1% pass accuracy. The shot location, dribble success rate and pass accuracy show he requires an improvement in decision making if he wants to take his game to the next level, but the rest of his numbers are very promising for the 21-year-old.
5) Wilfred Ndidi, 22-years-old:
The Nigerian defensive midfielder is in this list as for the last few years his defensive numbers have been colossal in Leicester’s midfield. In the 2018/19 season, he averaged 6 tackles and interceptions (3.8 tackles and 2.2 interceptions) whilst only fouling 1.2 per 90 and being dribbles past 1.3 times per 90. This season is no fluke either, throughout his career he’s always put up huge defensive number even in a top competition and when he was young. In the 2016/17 Europa League with Genk, he averaged 7 tackles with 4.8 interceptions and even in the Champions League later that season with Leicester, he averaged 5.3 tackles and interceptions whilst in the 2018 World Cup, with Nigeria he averaged 5 tackles and 4 interceptions per 90 which are obscene numbers.. These numbers are huge due to the teams he played in haven’t been possession heavy and more counter attack orientated but throughout his career he’s averaged committing 1.6 fouls and being dribbled past 1.6 times per 90 which will decrease as he gets older due to him maturing and his decision making improving with experience but already those stats are very good.
During the 2018/19 season, he played 3299 minutes as he started 37 games and was subbed on for the other game showing how important he is to Leicester with his performances. In his 3299 minutes he got 2 goals and 0 assists, but he averaged 1.4 shots (0.9 from outside the box), 0.6 key passes, 0.9 dribbles (with a 69% success rate) and 52.2 passes with a pass accuracy of 79.9%. These show he is more defensive orientated but can occasionally offer things when going forward like his dribbles or passes to progress the ball forwards however the pass accuracy and shot location would need improving but are probably bad due to him being a defensive midfielder.
4) James Maddison, 22-years-old:
James has shot to prominence after his move from Norwich to Leicester after having an outstanding debut Premier League season in which he played 2850 minutes and scored 7 times whilst also assisting his team mates 7 times with his xG at 7.37 and xA at 7.94 shows it’s not a lucky season but in fact a statement of intent from the Englishman. He showed his versatility and desire to play as he played attacking midfielder and on the left wing as he quickly became a favourite at the King Power.
He averaged 2.3 shots (1.6 from outside the box), 2.8 key passes, 1,4 dribbles with a 70% success rate, 39 passes with a pass accuracy of 83.8% along with 1.6 tackles and interceptions per 90. His shot location is poor due to him being on set pieces (which is also why he averages 1.9 crosses and the key passes are high but xA is low for the amount of key passes) but could still be improved in open play along with his pass accuracy. Maddison created the most amount of chances (100) in the Premier League, ahead of new Galactico Hazard (created 98) who also took set pieces for his respective side, Chelsea.
3) Trent Alexander-Arnold, 20-years-old:
The Champions League winner is coming off a huge season with Liverpool as they lost the league by 1 point as they reached 97 points (despite the luck in xG) but Trent got many plaudits for his very impressive season for the Reds in which he scored 1 and got 12 assists which broke a record for defender with most assists in a Premier League season, his xG was 1.49 and his xA was 7.22 so he got the rub of the green when creating chances along with Andy Robertson’ but that’s what happens when they’re creating chances for their elite front three but both of their assists will drop next season along with Liverpool’s points tally.
In the league, he played 2467 minutes as he averaged 3.3 tackles and interceptions, 1 shot (0.8 from outside the box), 1.7 key passes (Trent takes corners so that boosts his key passes) along with 58.5 passes with a 77.5% pass accuracy per 90. The shot location is poor due to him being a defender but the pass accuracy is low as he’s constantly trying to progress the ball forward with vertical forward passes which is backed up by him completing 4 long balls from 8.9 long balls per 90.
2) Dele Alli, 23-years-old:
The former MK Dons player came from the Dons to the Lily Whites and became a first team regular as he was pushed from deep line play maker to second striker at Tottenham in which he has flourished, and that switch has brought him to prominence and into in the spotlight. He is coming off a disappointing season by his standards as injuries heavily hampered his season as he only managed to play 1835 minutes in which he scored 5 and got 3 assisits which was on track for his xG and xA.
During the 2018/19 season, he averaged 1.6 shots (only 0.4 from outside the box showing his experience and maturity despite still being very young), 1.1 key passes, 1.2 dribbles (54.5% success rate so decision making on when to attempt to take his man on needs improvement but his injury could’ve hampered his mobility and/or pace), 41.1 passes with a pass accuracy of 80.3% along with 2.1 tackles and interceptions. These stats show he can be involved in everything however his low pass accuracy and dribble success rate could be down to him being advanced up the pitch or down to poor judgement but will need to be improved.
1)Leroy Sané, 23-years-old:
The formed Schalke player only started 21 league matches and came off the bench 10 times as he clocked up 1867 minutes despite his talent being evident, but the lack of minutes is down to Pep Guardiola rotating his squad and him not being overly fancied as he’s more of an individualist rather than a system player especially compared to Raheem Sterling and Bernardo Silva. Despite the lack of minutes, Sané still got 10 goals and 10 assists but his xG was 6.98 and his xA was 8.10, he performed xG and xA as he was coming on against tired defences, so his pace was too much. Despite this, he had an xG of 0.34 and an xA of 0.39 per 90 (not the most accurate as his sample size isn’t huge but still very impressive as his game time was inconsistent), so he is expected to have a direct hand in a goal 0.73 times per 90.
In his 1867 minutes, the German international averaged 1.8 shots (0.6 from outside the box), 1.3 key passes, 1.8 dribbles (with a 54.5% success rate), 27.3 passes with a pass accuracy of 84.4% along with 1.1 tackles and interceptions. With these very promising stats that will improve as he gets older and matures as he gains experience as well as when he gets more consistent game time then it is very clear why Bayern Munich were desperate to land him but also why Man City were desperate to keep hold of him.