One player from EVERY Premier League club whose stock will soar in 2018/19
Arsenal: Lucas Torreira
It was surprising to see Torreira left out of Arsenal’s first league game, because he so obviously embodies the dynamic qualities which this team have been crying out for – especially in matches against top-tier sides. Still, it’s a long season and by its end the 22-year-old Uruguayan will almost certainly have become an irreplaceable part of the Arsenal midfield.
Cases could also be made for Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Reiss Nelson, but with Arsenal in flux and their future trajectory so uncertain, these are hardly the right conditions to blood younger players. In any case, Nelson might be heading off on loan before the European market closes.
Bournemouth: Lewis Cook
Cook is hardly on the fringes of the Bournemouth first team, having started 25 Premier League games last season. Nevertheless, there’s still so much more to come from him and, should the 21-year-old and his team enjoy a good year, there’s every reason to believe that it might end with an England cap or two.
As the World Cup demonstrated, there’s a shortage of homegrown England players who are truly comfortable on the ball in deep positions. Cook is one of those. His defensive abilities remain a work in progress, as do Bournemouth’s generally, but improvements around him over the summer should help. When he reaches maturity, he’ll be one of the most cultured possession players in the country.
Brighton: Yves Bissouma
Bissouma cost £15m from Lille, so he’s hardly emerging from nowhere, but few will have heard of him and he could be one of the finest signings made in years. His career remains embryonic and, having never played in the Premier League before, the 21-year-old midfielder is entitled to an adjustment period. However, his combination of technique and brawn should make him a big hit on the south coast.
If Brighton struggle, English fans are unlikely to see the very best of him, but as and when they’re on the front foot - or transitioning between defence and attack - the full breadth of his skill set will become clear.
Burnley: Ben Gibson
Talk about the right player in the right place. Burnley spent £15m on Gibson, nephew of Middlesbrough chairman Steve, so he’s not exactly flying under the radar. Nevertheless, an orthodox British centre-half playing for Sean Dyche is clearly good news and the existing system at Turf Moor, with all the protection it provides, should nurture Gibson nicely.
The challenge for him will be displacing either James Tarkowski or Ben Mee, both of whom have been excellent for a long time and who each have their manager’s full trust. Should Gibson achieve that, though, he’s another who can expect to be fielding calls from Steve Holland and Gareth Southgate.
Cardiff: Bobby Reid
He’s 25, but Reid will provide a nice, gentle contrast to the players around him. Neil Warnock has built his side on power, and if they are to survive it will be because of that muscle.
Yet the £10m signing from Bristol City is clearly a fine player, one who belongs at this level, and also someone whose selfless running and neat touches around the penalty box could add some valuable subtlety to Cardiff’s season.
Chelsea: Callum Hudson-Odoi
A caveat: Hudson-Odoi’s breakout season might come away from Stamford Bridge. Chelsea retain an aversion to young players and, despite having been so impressive in the Community Shield, the forward wasn’t even included in the matchday squad for the league opener at Huddersfield.
Still, this is a real player. Direct and fearless, skilful and not shy of pulling the trigger, Hudson-Odoi is startlingly accomplished for a player of just 17 years old. A season in the under-23 league would do him no good really, so here’s hoping Maurizio Sarri either breaks the party line on academy products or Chelsea are able to place him somewhere smart for the year.
Crystal Palace: Aaron Wan-Bissaka
First seen last season, the 20-year-old defender experienced some tough days out of position when he first broke into the side. It also shouldn’t be discounted that Palace spent much of 2017/18 in turmoil and were only certain of their safety a few weeks before the end.
Still, difficult as it was, the experience seems to have done Wan-Bissaka some good. Capped by England’s U20s earlier in the year (even if he was sent off on that debut), he has begun the new campaign brilliantly, nullifying Fulham’s potent left side at Craven Cottage and making the right-back slot his own.
Wan-Bissaka faces some very stiff international competition, as England aren't short of full-backs, but Palace seem to have finally found a long-term solution to their issues in his position.