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- Chelsea set to win Title at a Kante!
- Leicester face tough choices as losses compile
- The Year of the Roo-ster!
- Marvel at the latest Craven Cottage arrival: Fulham Sign Thanos!
- Wayne Rooney’s goalscoring record is a rare piece of Manchester United history. Take notice.
- MOTD: Ibrahimovic salvages United point against Liverpool
- The Crystal (Palace) Maze!
- Glory Days for Andre Gray!
Ten Premier League youngsters to watch in 2016/17: Part 2
The 2016/17 Premier League season is just a week away and Football Every Day’s Alex Morgan is taking a look at ten young stars to watch out for during the upcoming campaign. In Part One, we looked at Sheyi Ojo, Brendan Galloway, and Demarai Gray. In this Part Two, Timothy Fosu-Mensah, Jerome Sinclair, and Rob Holding come under the spotlight:
Timothy Fosu-Mensah (Manchester United)
José Mourinho is hardly renowned for cultivating youth players, but Manchester United youngster Timothy Fosu-Mensah is brimming with confidence this summer and if given the opportunities, could have a breakthrough year in Mourinho’s first season in charge at Old Trafford.
The eighteen-year-old was handed his United debut under Louis van Gaal last February amidst the club’s injury crisis and went on to make ten appearances in all competitions. He has rapidly moved up the youth ranks at United since joining from Ajax’s famed academy in 2014 and feels ready to pin down a spot in United’s game-day squad having signed a new long-term contract over the summer.
“It can’t go fast enough for me,” Fosu-Mensah said, per ESPNFC. “All my life, I’ve set goals for myself. This season, I was playing for Manchester United’s under-21s. It makes sense that the next step is making your first-team debut, doesn’t it?”
He played primarily at fullback last season, but has played centrally for the academy, even in an attacking midfield position. He hopes that versatility will help increase his standing in the first team under Mourinho as he looks to repeat Marcus Rashford’s breakout season as a teenager last year.
“I’ve never heard a player speak badly about Mourinho,” he said. “I’m curious — I want to develop into a top player for Manchester United under him. That’s the next step in my plan.”
He took valuable lessons from last season and remembers even the little bits of advice he learned over the course of the campaign.
“Giggs talked to me a lot,” he said. “For example, after the semifinal of the FA Cup against Everton, when I played well, but also caused a penalty. ‘Stay on your feet in such a situation,’ Giggs said. I learned so much from that.”
His teammates have also lent helpful hands along the way.
“I listen to Michael Carrick, Chris Smalling and to the Dutch guys, Daley Blind and Memphis Depay,” Fosu-Mensah said. “I sit in the dressing room and just listen to what everyone has got to say, and especially to our captain, Wayne Rooney.
“I remember when I conquered the ball in the semifinal against Everton in the 44th minute. I crossed midfield and tried to reach Rooney, but the pass was intercepted. Then Rooney came to me and said: ‘Timothy, it’s the 44th minute, almost half-time, keep the ball in the team at such a time.’”
United open their league campaign against Bournemouth this weekend.
Jerome Sinclair (Watford)
Jerome Sinclair might only have played two games for Liverpool but holds the distinction of being their youngest-ever debutant. That, however, was way back in 2012 when the striker appeared as a late substitute against West Bromwich Albion in the League Cup just six days after his sixteenth birthday. Internationally, he also impressed for the England Under-16s and Under-17s that year.
His professional career has made limited progress since then, hampered by numerous injuries. A loan move to Wigan Athletic in the 2014/15 season with youth teammate Sheyi Ojo (featured in Part One of our series) bore little fruit and Sinclair is yet to reproduce his fantastic form for Liverpool’s academy on the professional stage. With a similar skill-set to Liverpool teammate Daniel Sturridge, Sinclair just couldn’t find the playing opportunities to take his career to the next level.
This season, however, the nineteen-year-old has the opportunity to make a breakthrough after a £4 million switch to Watford. The bullish, pacy forward was the Hornets’ first signing of the summer and will hope to get his first taste of Premier League football in two years.
Rob Holding (Arsenal)
Arsenal’s centerback situation is a mess, to put it bluntly, and has been for some time. Heading into their Premier League opener against Liverpool this weekend, Per Mertesacker and Gabriel Paulista are out due to injury, and Laurent Koscielny isn’t match fit.
Could twenty-year-old Rob Holding be part of the solution to their defensive woes? Although many Gunners fans were hoping for the signing of an experienced, big-name star in defense, Holding has impressed in Arsenal’s preseason tour of the United States since joining from Bolton Wanderers earlier in the summer and Wenger is not afraid to give him a chance on the big stage.
“Rob has done extremely well,” the Arsenal boss said, per the Daily Star.
“I know it’s more glamorous to buy a £50-60M player than to give a chance to a young player…but in my job you have to just look at the quality and not so much the numbers surrounding a transfer.”
Holding joined the Bolton academy at the age of seven and made his way all the way up to the first team, enjoying a breakthrough season in the Championship last year. While Bolton finished last placed in the Championship, Holding was one of the few positives of the season and was voted player of the year. He recently made his debut for the England Under-21 squad
He moved to Arsenal for a reported fee of £2.5million and made his debut in the 2016 Major League Soccer All-Star game. He has also appeared in friendly victories over Chivas de Guadalajara, Viking FK and Manchester City, scoring his first goal in Red in the process.