Revealed! YOUR Premier League club's next first-team youth prospect
Arsenal - Emile Smith Rowe
Arsenal’s Europa League campaign this season has provided the perfect breeding ground for Arsene Wenger to blood the next crop of young talent at the Emirates Stadium. Eddie Nketiah, Joe Willock, Reiss Nelson, Matt Macey and Ben Sheaf have all stepped up for the Gunners, who appear set for another run in the competition next year unless they can go all the way and lift the trophy this time out.
Smith Rowe should follow in those youthful footsteps. The Under-17 World Cup winner with England is sure to appeal to whoever the new Arsenal manager is, combining silky-smooth dribbling ability, incisive passing and devastating long-range finishing to draw comparisons with Kevin De Bruyne.
A mid-season injury temporarily halted his progress, but he returned to full fitness in time for Arsenal’s FA Youth Cup final defeat to Chelsea.
Bournemouth - Aaron Ramsdale
Sheffield United’s academy has quietly been one of the most prosperous in England over the past decade: Kyle Walker, Harry Maguire and Dominic Calvert-Lewin have headlined the Blades’ fine work at youth level. Goalkeeper Ramsdale is part of the next wave, and Bournemouth were quick to spot his potential during the 2017 January transfer window by securing an £800,000 transfer for the England U19 international.
He started all five matches in the Three Lions’ European Championship triumph in Georgia last summer, before spending time on loan at Chesterfield in January of this year. While the Spireites were relegated last week, his mature performances in the face of adversity have won him many admirers.
Asmir Begovic is entrenched as the Cherries’ No.1 for the time being, but Adam Federici and Artur Boruc are increasingly long in the tooth – leaving Ramsdale with the opportunity to assert his credentials as their goalkeeper of the future.
Brighton - Jordan Maguire-Drew
The 20-year-old attacking midfielder, who hails from nearby Worthing, seems to have been close to breaking through at Brighton for a long while now, and has already garnered more experience than many of his contemporaries.
Maguire-Drew was a precocious talent playing ahead of his age group in the Seagulls’ academy, and a short loan spell with his hometown club was followed by a year with Dagenham & Redbridge in 2016/17. This season he's split his time between Lincoln City and Coventry in League Two.
It hasn’t all been plain sailing, but he offers plenty of visual similarities to another recent graduate of Brighton’s youth setup in Solly March.
Maguire-Drew is a dynamic attacking presence with a wand of a left foot, and fits perfectly within Chris Hughton’s attacking setup which places a premium on wide players who can cut inside and produce goals. He's made steady progress towards earning a first-team squad place at the Amex Stadium.
Burnley - Marley Blair
It isn’t easy for a young player to break through at Turf Moor – manager Sean Dyche prefers to keep a small first-team squad – but the Clarets’ academy is on the rise and put in a respectable performance across the board after being accepted into Category Two football last summer.
The best work at Barnfield will be seen in the years to come, then, and in 18-year-old forward Marley Blair they could have unearthed a gem who went overlooked at several other clubs en route.
The tricky attacking midfielder spent time with Bradford and hometown club Huddersfield before joining Liverpool as a 15-year-old. He was unable to make progress on Merseyside, however, so penned a professional contract with Burnley in January and now appears to be on a better path.
Blair is quick and skilful with an eye for goal, and Liverpool’s loss could well turn out to be Burnley’s gain.
Chelsea - Mason Mount
The 2017/18 season has been something of a watershed moment for Chelsea in terms of academy production – Andreas Christensen has become the first youth team product to establish himself in the first-team squad since John Terry (although Ryan Bertrand deserves a mention in that particular discussion).
The Blues’ relentless run of success in the FA Youth Cup and UEFA Youth League over recent years has yielded a veritable army of prospective young talent, many of whom have departed on loan, and it’s Mason Mount who has earned rave reviews most often over the past nine months.
The 19-year-old has been highly influential for a Vitesse team that has all too often flattered to deceive, registering nine goals and seven assists in Eredivisie football to be named the Dutch side's player of the season. He set a new Europa League record for chances created in a single match by a teenager (eight) against Lazio, and has made no secret about his desire to play at Stamford Bridge.
With Chelsea set to hire yet another new manager this summer, they could do worse than turn towards a youngster who appears to be heading straight to the top.