The Premier League restarts this week after its hiatus due to coronavirus with nine games remaining for most teams.
Notably, there will be five substitutes permitted per match moving forward, which could lead to more opportunities for the next generation.
It has certainly unfolded like that in the Bundesliga in recent weeks and could help teams better evaluate their squads ahead of the transfer window.
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Many sides have also secured their fate already this term and will be able to experiment in the coming weeks without the pressure to pick up points.
Here we take a look at some of the most interesting talents, 21 years old or younger, around the league.
Already comfortable in the United first team, the 18-year-old will hope to take the next step by convincing Ole Gunnar Solskjaer he is worthy of a place in the Norwegian’s best XI.
A deadly finisher, and the most accurate shooter in the league – hitting the target 57 per cent of the time – Greenwood will benefit further from the return of Paul Pogba. Together with Bruno Fernandes creating from deep, Greenwood looks set to add to his 12 goals from 36 appearances in all competitions.
Mikel Arteta is committed to utilising the Arsenal academy as he continues the initial stages of a monumental rebuild at the Emirates. Bukayo Saka is undoubtedly Arsenal’s most talented young player right now and they will hope he can contribute for many years to come. But Arteta has plenty of talented youngsters itching for an opportunity before the season finishes and Miguel Azeez may prove to be an intriguing option should the Spaniard accept a top four finish is beyond his squad.
A slick passer of the ball with a lethal long-range shot, Azeez is able to play at the base of the midfield or slightly further forward and could become especially interesting due to Arteta’s philosophy.
Adam Idah, Norwich
Norwich are still scrapping for survival, which could benefit the young Irish forward no matter the outcome of the first few games back.
Daniel Farke may look to the 19-year-old off the bench in search of goals as the pressure mounts to pick up points, while more minutes could arise should the Canaries’ fate be sealed before the final day of the season, with Idah an interesting option for a potential rebuild next season in the Championship.
Eric Garcia, Manchester City
Once Liverpool clinch the title, City will also have the luxury of rotating their players in the Premier League in order to remain fresh for the Champions League, provided they can negotiate the second leg of the last 16 tie against Real Madrid after earning a 1-0 advantage.
With Nicolas Otamendi and John Stones failing to convince, Pep Guardiola will almost certainly turn to Eric Garcia on a more consistent basis and a potential long-term partner for Aymeric Laporte. Well-versed in his manager’s system and capable of thriving due to his composure on the ball and the ease at which he reads the game, City will likely fend off any hope of Barcelona re-signing the 19-year-old by picking him regularly in the remaining league games this season.
Ki-Jana Hoever, Liverpool
Jurgen Klopp could be in the envious position of experimenting in seven of the remaining nine games if everything goes to plan and the Reds are able to wrap up the title quickly. That could mean more opportunities for the next generation at Anfield and Ki Jana Hoever looks set to be one of the main candidates to benefit.
An exquisite finish in the recent friendly against Blackburn, the Dutch defender should eventually find a home at centre-back, but with a trick and good speed over 10 yards, he could provide an interesting option at right-back for the Reds.
Harvey Elliott, Liverpool
Another well-placed to profit from the premature coronation of the Reds, Elliott is the youngest player in Premier League history and an obvious option should Klopp look to rotate Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane.
After seemingly turning their attention elsewhere with Timo Werner primed to join Chelsea, Elliott should have a sizeable opportunity to convince he is worth investing in as one of the first reserves for Liverpool’s devastating attacking trio.
Will Smallbone, Southampton
Fresh from signing a new four-year deal, Smallbone offered a look at his potential with two starts against Aston Villa and West Ham before the break, with Ralph Hasenhuttl evidently trusting the player already to operate in a two alongside Pierre Emile Hojbjerg.
Sporting the No 8 shirt in a friendly against Bristol City recently, the 20-year-old showed why he is such an exciting talent as a box-to-box midfielder, gliding past opponents and always willing to follow his passes to cut through the opposition.
Billy Gilmour, Chelsea
In perhaps the most difficult position for a young player breaking through, the Scot has adjusted seamlessly to control the tempo of the game at the base of the midfield against Liverpool in the FA Cup and Everton in the Premier League. With Jorginho back though, Frank Lampard now has a dilemma as to which playmaker to utilise in the closing stages of the season.
Constantly on the move and willing to receive the ball no matter the pressure from the opposition, it will be interesting to see whether Gilmour can continue to influence games with his smooth passing.
Tino Anjorin, Chelsea
Given the previous opportunities handed out by Frank Lampard, there are numerous other candidates at Chelsea who could feature in the closing stages of the season, but Anjorin, fresh from signing a five-year contract extension, looks best-placed from the group yet to feature prominently in the first team.
Armando Broja has already been around the first team, while Lewis Bate and Henry Lawrence have also been involved in the build-up to the league’s restart. But Anjorin could be something special; willing to press high, he should have no issue adjusting to Lampard’s ways, while his eagerness to venture into the box is perhaps something missing from other midfield options in the squad.
Anthony Gordon, Everton
Rated highly at Goodison and capable of offering something different to Carlo Ancelotti on the left of a front three, with the Italian most recently selecting Gylfi Sigurdsson out of position there.
After knocking back interest from abroad, Everton will almost certainly have a closer look at the 19-year-old before Ancelotti embarks on his first summer transfer window to reshape his squad. The Italian handed him an appearance off the bench in the defeat to Chelsea before the break and we can expect several more chances in the coming weeks to see whether Gordon is capable of moving into the first team permanently and bypassing a spell out on loan.
Tariq Lamptey, Brighton
The former Chelsea right-back impressed with the few opportunities given to him by Frank Lampard earlier this season. So much so that the Blues boss was thought to be angry at the 19-year-old’s move to Brighton in January.
Quick, instinctive and always eager to be positive on the ball and offer teammates an outlet, Lamptey will hope to play a role in the Seagulls’ bid to beat the drop.
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