Five of this season’s best young talents

Kelechi Iheanacho – Manchester City

Nigerian striker Kelechi Iheanacho has been a revelation for Manchester City this season. The 19-year-old has proved to be a clinical finisher, scoring eight Premier League goals from only 12 shots on target. Iheanacho has scored more goals in the Premier League than teammates Raheem Sterling (six) and Wilfred Bony (four), another example that money isn’t always the be all and end all when it comes to finding talented players. His eight goals also mean that he is only behind Sergio Aguero (24) as Man City’s top Premier League goalscorer this season. Iheanacho’s performances might be enough to suggest that he will be the first player to emerge from the revamped City academy and make it at the highest level. 19 of his 26 appearances this season have come from the bench. If incoming manager Pep Guardiola sees what a talent he is, Iheanacho could continue to develop and even start more often next season.

Marcus Rashford – Manchester United

Manchester-born Marcus Rashford was brought into the starting eleven in February, in Man United’s second leg Europa League match against FC Midtjylland, after Anthony Martial damaged his hamstring during the warm-up. And the rest, as they say, is history. The 18-year-old striker scored twice on his debut and was deservedly named man of the match. What a way to announce yourself on the big stage, and at the Theatre of Dreams no less. How apt. Manchester United’s next match was against Arsenal, and Rashford was given his second start in as many games. As soon as Arsène Wenger said that he didn’t know who Rashford was before his performance against FC Midtjylland, I knew he would score against Arsenal, and that’s exactly what happened. The Mancunian bagged a brace and set up the third goal in his first ever Premier League game, to give Man United a 3-2 victory over Wenger’s men. Rashford’s youthful energy and exuberance was too much for Arsenal to handle, and he received the man of the match award yet again. Those two performances were his best since becoming a regular member of the first team, but it is worth remembering that he was lucky to get into the squad in February. Everything else since then has been hard work and determination. Rashford had performed so well this season that he was named in England’s provisional 26 man squad for Euro 2016.

Duncan Watmore – Sunderland

No player wants to be involved in a relegation battle, especially not at the age of 22, but Duncan Watmore has handled the situation rather well. As well as the three goals and one assist in the 2015-16 season, Watmore collected his first-class honours degree in economics and business management in September last year. The Sunderland forward scored on his Premier League debut in a 3-1 defeat against Norwich and has won the under-21 Premier League Player of the Year award. Watmore has made 23 appearances this season, 16 of those as a substitute, and Sam Allardyce was the manager to give him his first start in November. As long as Big Sam continues to believe in him, Watmore could be an influential player for Sunderland next season.

Alex Iwobi – Arsenal

A Gunner through and through, 20-year-old Nigerian Alex Iwobi has been at Arsenal since he was just eight years old. He has scored two league goals this season and has made 13 appearances for the club. As well as his two goals, Iwobi has got two assists and one of his two goals came on his Premier League debut against Everton. Iwobi was awarded man of the match for his excellent performance against the Toffees. After Arsenal’s game against Watford, when Iwobi scored his second Premier League goal in as many starts, Arsène Wenger said, “I am pleased with Alex Iwobi’s talent but even more with his attitude and his willingness to learn and to contribute with his teamwork.” Iwobi has got a lot of potential that can hopefully be fulfilled in the current Arsenal side next season.

Bamidele Alli – Tottenham Hotspur

Dele Alli has had a fantastic first season at Spurs. He made 33 appearances – only five of those from the bench – scored 10 Premier League goals, got nine assists and was named the PFA Young Player of the Year. A debut season in the Premier League doesn’t get much better than that. He was a huge factor in Tottenham’s title charge and when he missed the final three games of the season due to suspension his presence, and fantastic link up play with Harry Kane, was greatly missed. Alli’s most memorable strike was the spectacular control, flick and volley against Crystal Palace in January, which was voted Match of the Day’s goal of the season. In such a short space of time, Alli has established himself as an integral part of Mauricio Pochettino’s side. As long as he can control his temper, the future is looking bright for the Tottenham and England midfielder.



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