Analysis

10 players we’d LOVE to see in the Premier League in 2018/19

Leon Bailey

No, not Lionel Messi – unless Cardiff fancy a real statement signing – but the exciting young players we could genuinely perhaps see in the Prem next season. Make it happen please...

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10. Fred (Shakhtar Donetsk)

The two Manchester clubs could be set to go head-to-head for Fred, a player who is certain to leave Ukraine this summer. The Brazil international has been at Shakhtar for five years but this is the season in which he’s attracted the most attention from overseas, largely thanks to Paulo Fonseca’s side’s run to the last 16 of the Champions League.

A deep-lying midfielder who contributes in both attacking and defensive phases of play, the left-footed 25-year-old is a terrific passer who also excels at carrying the ball upfield. Manchester City could do far worse in their hunt for a long-term successor to Fernandinho.

9. Kieran Tierney (Celtic)

Scottish full-back Andrew Robertson has been one of the revelations of the Premier League season, with the ex-Hull man establishing himself as a key part of Jurgen Klopp’s starting XI at Anfield. Tierney could follow in his compatriot’s footsteps next term, and a host of English outfits are thought to be monitoring the Celtic left-back.

Aggressive with and without the ball, the 20-year-old isn’t afraid to get stuck in and relishes a physical battle with opposition wide men. He’s even better going forward, and routinely bombs on down the flank to link up with his team’s attackers in advanced areas.

8. Emil Forsberg (RB Leipzig)

With Naby Keita on his way to Liverpool and manager Ralph Hasenhuttl also departing the club, RB Leipzig will be a very different team next year. That, together with the club’s failure to qualify for the Champions League, could push Forsberg through the exit door too.

The Swede endured a frustrating 2017/18 as injuries limited him to just 15 starts in the Bundesliga, but his 19 assists the previous season serve as evidence of his creativity. Comfortable on either wing or through the middle, Forsberg finds space intelligently and presses proficiently when his side lose the ball.

7. Matthijs de Ligt (Ajax)

De Ligt has reportedly been identified as Tottenham’s favored replacement for Toby Alderweireld, who will almost certainly depart north London this summer. Racking up over 60 appearances for Ajax would be impressive for any 18-year-old, but the level of De Ligt’s involvement is even more remarkable considering his position.

The center back’s composure and maturity bely his tender years, and the teenager has seemingly been unfazed by the challenges he’s faced so far in his career – save for a nightmare Holland debut in March 2017, when he was thrown in at the deep end having started only two games for Ajax. He recovered admirably, however, and that mentality will appeal to prospective managers.

De Ligt is a ball-playing defender who regularly steps into midfield, reads the game well and positions himself astutely when his team are defending. Spurs sound ideal. 

6. Andrea Belotti (Torino)

Belotti was linked with both Chelsea and Manchester United in summer 2017, but a move away from Torino never materialized. This has been a slightly tougher campaign for the striker, whose Serie A goal tally is down from 26 to 10, but the 24-year-old remains hot property and could be playing his football elsewhere from August onwards.

Likened to Christian Vieri by various people within the Italian game, Belotti is mobile, strong in the air and adept at linking the play. He wouldn’t come cheap, but the fact that the former Palermo frontman still has his peak years ahead would no doubt appeal to Premier League managers and chairmen alike.