Lists

One academy graduate EVERY Premier League team wishes they still had

Gareth Bale Southampton
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Leicester (Max Gradel)

Maxi Gradel

Leicester's attack has struggled to break down spirited opposition at home this season, and few of Claude Puel's options out wide have truly convinced in 2018/19. Harvey Barnes has been recalled from a prosperous loan spell at West Brom, but another of the Foxes' former kids could also help satisfy a disgruntled home crowd right now. 

Toulouse's Gradel never quite made the impact fans hoped he would at Leicester, but now 31, he is currently thriving at Toulouse – Whoscored.com rank him as the 19th-best performer in France's top flight this term. 

Liverpool (Suso)

Suso AC Milan

The obvious answer here is Raheem Sterling: a ready-make alternative to the fast-paced forwards Liverpool rely on right now. But given that the oft-levelled criticism of their play is a tendency to be predictable and over-reliable on the pace and movement of those attackers, perhaps there’s an argument to suggest that Suso might be more useful to Jurgen Klopp's current side.

A scheming, creative threat from central or wide, and a semi-regular scorer to boot, he wouldn’t look out of place swapping Milan for Anfield once more.

Manchester City (Jadon Sancho)

Jadon Sanco Borussia Dortmund

What do you need most when you’re the reigning champions and have all the money in the world? Well, not much really – but their success wasn't enough to keep the most exciting teenager in English football right now. 

Initially, Sancho made headlines for his move as much as his magic, but his scintillating performances for Borussia Dortmund have comfortably drowned them out. FourFourTwo's March 2019 cover star quickly began to show why he'd backed his talent in search of first-team football with BVB, and so far this season has racked up nine assists and six goals in the Bundesliga alone.

Manchester United (Josh King)

Manchester United have surprisingly few options for this category – Michael Keane is surely not the answer to their issues at centre-back, and the same applies to their popular former right-back Rafael at Lyon. 

Bournemouth's King – who played twice for United during his stint at Old Trafford between 2008 and 2013 – has proven himself to be one of the most consistent forwards in the Premier League over the last two-and-a-half years, impressing with his unselfish link-up play and eye for goal. 

He'd doubtlessly find it hard to get in the current United side ahead of Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Romelu Lukaku, but he's probably the best option they've got out there right now. 

Newcastle United (Fraser Forster)

Fraser Forster Southampton

Even with the recent acquisition of record signing Miguel Almiron, new arrivals at St James’ Park tend to be few and far between. But few fans would take kindly to homecomings for either Andy Carroll or Nile Ranger, leaving viable alternatives thin on the ground for the Magpies. 

Southampton goalkeeper Forster never made an appearance for Newcastle as a youngster, and while his stock has fallen dramatically at St Mary's, so has his price tag.

Southampton (Gareth Bale)

Gareth Bale Southampton

Arguably, the Premier League club with the most options here – and yet conversely, this is the easiest decision of the lot.

Luke Shaw, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Theo Walcott and Adam Lallana have all passed through the Saints' fabled academy, but so too did Welshman Bale, who burst onto the scene with his set-piece prowess in 2006. The rest hardly needs mentioning. 

Tottenham (Nabil Bentaleb)

Nabil Bentaleb Schalke

Initially, Bentaleb showed good promise with Tottenham and played 66 times for the north Londoners, starting a League Cup final and signing a long-term contract in 2015. The Algerian fell out of favour with Mauricio Pochettino by 2015/16, however, played only five Premier League games as Spurs went for the title. 

Schalke rescued him on loan in August 2016, since when he's impressed and grown steadily into his role in Gelsenkirchen. He's even managed six goals this season – all of them penalties. 

The 24-year-old is certainly not a starter for this current Spurs team, but a serviceable talent who could beef up Pochettino's current central midfield options.

Watford (Ashley Young)

Ashley Young Watford

Are we allowed Jadon Sancho twice? The Dortmund star began his career with Watford as a youngster, before heading to City aged 14.

The other alternative is the (considerably) more seasoned Ashley Young, who remains a reliable starter and consummate professional for Manchester United. 

SEE ALSO In praise of Ashley Young: Manchester United's best outfielder in the post-Ferguson era

West Ham (James Tomkins)

James Tomkins Crystal Palace

Tomkins joined West Ham aged seven and became a Premier League regular for the Hammers, fulfilling a childhood dream.

His 2016 move to Crystal Palace was perhaps sideways more than forwards – admittedly, based on his form – but Tomkins' old club have struggled at centre-back in recent seasons and wouldn't mind having him back among their options right now. The 29-year-old is more mature, experienced and certainly more reliable than in his younger days.

Wolves (Wayne Hennessey)

Wayne Hennessey Crystal Palace

Wayne Hennessey played over 150 times for Wolves before moving on to Crystal Palace, but his fortunes at Selhurst Park have been up and down to say the least.

Nobody at Molineux would want his inconsistency over Portuguese stopper Rui Patricio, but he’d at least be decent competition as the West Midlanders' back-up shot-stopper.

Sorry, Wolves fans – but Robbie Keane has retired and Elliott Bennett was the alternative.

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