Best young Premier League players
Brief scouting reports on some of our favourite emerging Premier League players
The Premier League is becoming an increasingly young league. As clubs become more competent, they’ve shifted toward youth development in order to grow their clubs. It’s unparalleled financial resource means the best young players often play there too. Here’s a little list of some of our favourite Premier League that are currently breaking onto the scene.
More profiles can be found in the goalkeepers, defenders, midfielders, wingers and strikers sections. Below, you’ll find profiles covering backgrounds, styles, strengths and weaknesses, while providing links to where you can find out more about them.
For full in-depth analysis of some of the best young players from all over the planet, check out our profiles page. We have countlesss profiles on players there, focussing on a range of talents from across the world. There are also exclusive interviews too, and plenty more.
WHO IS THE YOUNGEST PLAYER IN PREMIER LEAGUE HISTORY?
The youngest player to ever feature in Premier League history is Arsenal’s Ethan Nwaneri, who made his debut aged 15 years and 181 days old when he came on as a substitute in a game against Brentford on September 18, 2022.
Once one of the most well-trodden pathways for loan players, the Chelsea-to-Vitesse partnership has drifted apart in recent seasons. But Armando Broja revived it a couple of seasons ago, with a ten-goal campaign leading the line for the Eredivisie club.
He spent last season on another loan, this time in the Premier League at Southampton, before returning to Chelsea for the 2022/23 campaign. Throughout all of that, Broja has established himself as a regular at senior international level for Albania.
Armando Broja's style of play
Broja took to the Premier League relatively quickly on loan at Southampton. His willingness to stretch defences with runs in behind is a very transferable skill for Premier League strikers, with the transitional style of the league suiting players with pace in behind. But Broja pairs that with a pretty big and strong frame, that looks very adept at playing at this physical level for his age.
Broja can hit the channels too. He can drift wide and receive the ball in transition and properly attack the full-back marking him, and looks comfortable attempting to beat his man and delivering balls into the area. The best comparison is probably to Álvaro Morata during his first spell at Juventus, though Broja is a bit bigger and more functional alone up front, while Morata was at his best playing off Carlos Tévez.
Broja combines this all with a versatile range of finishes when he has opportunities to shoot. He can score off the dribble, running in behind, with his head, first time, etc. and in general gets into really good positions to score and has a high xG per shot.
Armando Broja is a physical forward that is particularly good at stretching defences, drfiting wide and driving in behind mainly. He has a good-but-raw finish ability, capable of scoring all types of goals which gives him a solid floor as a goalscorer.
Armando Broja’s big marging for improvements are in his back-to-play and associative games. He lacks the touch and awareness to do both to a high level right now.
Conor Gallagher has been on loan four times before his 23rd birthday. After six months at Charlton Athletic and Swansea City respectively, he had a decent season on loan at West Brom in the 2020/21 season, but the Baggies didn’t make best use of the attacking quality Gallagher can provide.
Last season’s loan at Patrick Vieira’s exciting Crystal Palace was the complete opposite. He established himself as a fans’ favourite at Selhurst Park, standing out for his relentlessness in midfield.
He’s since returned to Chelsea, where he is now a member of the first-team squad under Graham Potter.
Conor Gallagher's style of play
Coaches are always looking for goals from midfield. They ease the burden on the strike force, and turn your team into a more dynamic threat. Gallagher delivers that in spades.
His powerful, relentless running from midfield allows him to both start and finish moves. He’s best when given license to attack the penalty box whenever he sees an opportunity to score developing. Eight non-penalty goals and three assists in his season on loan at Palace was testament to that.
Gallagher is a relentless worker on both sides of the ball. He is extremely aggressive defensively – perhaps too aggressive – with high pressure numbers paired with a low tackle success rate. These two stats tend to pair themselves regularly, but there is always room for improvement in terms of body shape and positioning when pressing incessantly.
Playing for a team like Palace, Gallagher only had a limited number of touches per game, but he is very effective. Barring an erratic first touch, he is very direct and clear-minded: his intent is to get the ball forward in any way possible, mixing a bit of ball-carrying and short passing in transitional opportunities to wreak havoc. His skillset is more limited when the game slows down and the defensive lines are compacted.
Conor Gallagher’s at his best when given license to press high and attack the box. He’s a relentless runner in midfield, constantly moving on both sides of the ball to harry opponents and create options for team-mates.
Given he’s best in a low-touch role that incorporates a lot of running off the ball, there are question marks about his effectiveness in a more possession-based, positionally-rigid system.
Joe Gelhardt is a product of Wigan Athletic’s youth system, making over 20 first-team appearances for the Latics before his 18th birthday. Due to Wigan’s financial crisis in the summer of 2020, Gelhardt was sold for a reported £1 million to newly-promoted Premier League side Leeds United and immediately placed in the U-23 side.
After a 12-month bedding in process including close to 20 goals at PL2 level, Gelhardt began to infiltrate Leeds’ first-team – as well as the England U21 setup – following injuries to Patrick Bamford and Rodrigo. Without his timely contributions throughout the seasons, Leeds likely would have been relegated from the Premier League last season.
Joe Gelhardt's style of play
Gelhardt is a stocky, but technical centre-forward, capable of worming his way out of tight spaces, shaking off challenges and unleashing powerful strikes. The ex-Wigan man stands at roughly 5ft 10in, but competes well physically, especially on the floor. His straight-line speed is adequate, but it is his relentless off-ball work-rate – something which has been developed during his time at Leeds – that makes him a pliable centre-forward in modern football.
He is a gifted technician, who likes to drop deep to receive possession, before driving at defensive structures. Gelhardt is adept at winning fouls, leveraging his frame against agemates to win decisions.
Recently called up to England’s U21 side, he can be a touch predictable on his left foot, strongly preferring to shoot with it as opposed to the right. There are no issues with Gelhardt’s shot power but his placement is much less certain, which has led to several of his penalties at youth level being saved.
Joe Gelhardt is a stocky, technical forward that combines quick feet with explosive ball-striking ability. He can wriggle through small spaces, causing chaos within defensive structures, making an energetic impact in games.
One of Joe Gelhardt’s biggest weaknesses currently is his suceptibility to injuries. Constant niggles, likely a consequence of his style of play, restrict him from building up any momentum.
Levi Colwill started out at Southampton but was soon signed by Chelsea, where he has spent the majority of his formative development. And after a single season in under-23 football, his rise kicked into another gear with a loan move to Championship side, Huddersfield Town.
Colwill put together a freakish season on loan in the Championship, establishing himself as a key starter for a team that massively overacheived by reaching the play-off final. He slotted straight in at senior level, showing himself to be an elite-level prospect.
After a summer of constant speculation about his future having returned to Chelsea, he joined Brighton & Hove Albion on a season-long loan in order to play more minutes – a decision that was, in our opinion, a poor one by Chelsea.
Levi Colwill's style of play
If you could build your ideal centre-back, you’d probably assemble something that closely resembles Levi Colwill. He’s tall, physical and fast; composed and robust; technical and confident. He is an exciting prospect as an athlete, defender and ball-player.
He’s very advanced relative to his age, and that can be attributed to his well-rounded athletic profile. He’s big and physical but has the change of speed to cover ground and the agility to adjust position.
Defensively, there are elements of dominance to his style and skillset. Colwill’s a committed defender that visibly relished the rugged nature of Championship football, and he makes intelligent use of his physique in contact. He’s also an adept defender on the move, with the dynamic mobiliy to defend space, and is a capable defender when stepping onto the front foot.
Where he also stands out is in his ball-playing ability. Colwill constantly breaks lines when in possession, as a passer and carrier. He can execute fast, precise passes off his left foot into midfield and drive forward with powerful carries that disrupt opponent’s defensive structure.
All things considered, Colwill has every element to be an elite-level defender in future and a long-time starter at international level.
If you could build the perfect centre-back, it would be similar to Levi Colwill. He’s big and fast, strong and agile, skilled and proactive. He can dominate in defensive duels, as well as progress possession with line-breaking passing and ball-carrying. He has all the elements to be an elite-level centre-back.
Levi Colwill doesn’t have a game-breaking flaw, but he does have a couple of areas he can improve in. One being the way he reads longer balls, the other being his focus in defensive situations.
Our lists of the best young talents
Brennan Johnson is Nottingham Forest through and through. Son of former Premier League player David Johnson, Brennan joined the club at eight years old.
He had to leave to make his breakthrough in senior football, though. The decision to join Lincoln City on loan in League One during the 2020/2021 season proved to be the perfect one. Johnson made 40 appearances in total, contributing to over 20 goals in the process. Since returning to Forest, Johnson has cemented himself as a starter.
He was crucial for Steve Cooper’s side in their promotion, via the play-offs, to the Premier League this season. He is also now a regular starter for Wales’ senior team going into the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
Brennan Johnson's style of play
Capable of playing across the forward line, Johnson has found a role on the right-side of Forest’s attack. From there, he contributed to a goal every other game in the Championship.
Perhaps his outstanding quality at present is his ability to cover long distances, with and without the ball. Johnson is an effective runner and carrier from deep. He has the control to travel through bodies and the robustness to withstand contact at high speeds, as well as the speed to create separation. These runs and carries get him into dangerous areas around the box, where he can cross or shoot.
Johnson isn’t much of a combination player, he’s more direct than that. He can be fairly prone to poor decisions and execution in the final third, but he still manages to impact games on a consistent basis. That is testament to his relentlessness in attack; he doesn’t seem to get disheartened, he keeps making the same movements and keeps getting into dangerous positions.
Something to keep an eye on in future is him playing off the left, cutting onto his right side. He has the direct goalscoring potential to play in that role, but perhaps not the creative passing skills yet.
Brennan Johnson is a direct attacker that stands out for his strong running, with and without the ball. He can drive at defences with ball-carrying and off-ball movements, getting into dangerous areas in and around the box to shoot or cross.
Brennan Johnson is a low-touch attacker; he isn’t someone you can pin your attack on, he’s a complementary piece as part of a functionioning attacking unit.
Fábio Carvalho burst onto the scene in the Championship during the 2021/22 season. Having made brief first-team appearances the season prior, their relegation to the second division afforded him a starting role for a side that powered their way to promotion back to the Premier League.
Despite that, Liverpool managed to sign him for a snip at £7 million in the summer for 2022. The deal had been agreed in the January window but couldn’t be ratified. Even though Carvalho was out of contract the following summer, both clubs agreed on a fee that circumvented the need for a tribunal hearing for compensation.
Carvalho now features regularly for Jürgen Klopp’s side, and has decided to represent Portugal at international level.
Fábio Carvalho's style of play
Carvalho is technically superb. Playing as an attacking midfielder, or even drifting out wide, Carvalho offers so much dynamism that is underpinned by his ability to first receive the ball calmly and effectively, and then burst into space to drive his team forward.
And he turns this into meaningful contributions in the final third. It helped to play with a striker of the quality of Aleksandar Mitrović at Championship level, but Carvalho is a great foil that rotated around the Serbian with ease, whether that be finding him with crosses, through balls, or cutbacks from the by-line.
He does all this so effortlessly. He is light on his feet and glides as he carries the ball into space. He plays with his head up and has a strong sense of awareness both as a creator and in front of goal. Being able to do this is great, but in a league as notoriously robust as the Championship, it suggests he is ready to take a step up to the next level. With the progression of players through the Championship and into the Premier League becoming an increasingly fruitful pathway, Carvalho looks primed to launch himself into the top flight.
Since stepping up levels both in terms of club and competition, joining Liverpool in the Premier League, Carvalho has promised plenty in regular minutes off the subs’ bench, mainly.
Fábio Carvalho is a technical player with a valuable tactical flexibility. He can play different roles in attacking areas, impacting games from different zones of the pitch.
Fábio Carvalho still has a lot of room out to fill into his frame, but, once he does, he can have a very solid physique. Liverpool is as good a place as any to fulfill his athletic potential as well.
Phil Foden, Reece James, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli – the list goes on and on, which is indactive of the levels of talent there is in the Premier League right now. There’s also been a significant uptick in the number of high-level home-grown young players.
Chelsea have the best academy system in England, without doubt – their products are peppered all over the Premier League. Arsenal and Manchester City also have strong academies, as do Manchester United and Liverpool.