Premier League: The six breakthrough stars

From Manchester United striker Mason Greenwood to Arsenal's Gabriel Martinelli, here are the top-six youngsters who stole the headlines this Premier League season.

Published : Jul 27, 2020 10:39 IST

Mason Greenwood has been regarded as the most prodigious talent to emerge from Manchester United’s academy since Ryan Giggs in the early 1990s.
Mason Greenwood has been regarded as the most prodigious talent to emerge from Manchester United’s academy since Ryan Giggs in the early 1990s.

Mason Greenwood has been regarded as the most prodigious talent to emerge from Manchester United’s academy since Ryan Giggs in the early 1990s.

For several youngsters starting their careers as Premier League footballers, the 2019-20 season would have been a challenging campaign because of the abrupt break in play caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. English players in the now-traditional top-six clubs have had breakthrough performances and have become key figures in their teams. We take a look at some of the best-performing young players of the season.

Gabriel Martinelli (Arsenal)

The 19-year-old forward took many by surprise with the impact he made in his first season at Arsenal. Having moved from the third tier of Brazilian football, Martinelli has scored 10 goals across 26 appearances, including three in six starts in the Premier League.

Gabriel Martinelli has scored 10 goals for Arsenal this season.

He has shown tremendous composure inside the box and his breakaway goal over 67 yards against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge displayed pace and technical ability on the ball. However, his season was cut short by an injury, leaving Arsenal without his services following the restart in June.

Mason Greenwood (Manchester United)

Greenwood is regarded as the most prodigious talent to emerge from United’s academy since Ryan Giggs in the early 1990s. Having embedded himself in the squad this season through Cup competitions, the 18-year-old striker has been a regular fixture in United’s starting XI post-lockdown.

Mason Greenwood opened the scoring for United and added one more in the second half in a 5-2 win against Bournemouth.

Strong on either foot, Greenwood packs plenty of power in his shots, from both inside and outside the box. He has scored 17 goals across competitions in his first season in professional football, matching the likes of former United legends George Best, Brian Kidd and Wayne Rooney in reaching that mark as teenagers. The youngster, on his part, used the lockdown period to put on more muscle to add strength to his game. Greenwood’s goals were crucial in United’s unbeaten run post-lockdown as it went on to secure Champions League football.

Phil Foden (Manchester City)

His talent has been talked about for quite some time now, but it’s only in the ongoing season that Foden has managed to breakthrough into a star-studded City team. His manager Pep Guardiola, who has coached six-time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi, has regarded Foden as “the most talented player” he has seen.

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has Pep Guardiola feels Phil Foden is ‘the most talented player’ he has ever seen.

The 20-year-old attacking midfielder registered five goals and two assists in the 2019-20 season and is touted to take up the mantle of the team’s creative outlet from the outgoing David Silva.

Bukayo Saka (Arsenal)

It could be argued that Saka, who is playing at the senior level in his first season, has been Arsenal’s best player of the campaign. The 18-year-old has been deployed in multiple positions – left back, wing back, left winger, right winger – and has not looked out of place.

Bukayo Saka has shown tremendous promise in his debut season in the English top-flight and has excelled at every position he has played in.

With four goals and 10 assists in all competitions this season, Arsenal’s new No. 7 is likely to continue his rapid development into one of the best players in the league. According to his manager Mikel Arteta, Saka is “really accurate and very precise in the final third, the closer he gets to the box, the picture is clearer for him. That’s why he’s made so many assists. He will score a lot of goals because he has a really good quality in terms of finishing with both feet.”

Pedro Neto (Wolves)

Wolves’ new winger Pedro Neto has had a slow integration in his first season in England but has shown glimpses of his abilities. After a difficult spell at Lazio, the 20-year-old winger seems to be finding his feet at Wolves, a team with a large contingent of Portuguese compatriots in both the playing and coaching staff.

Pedro Neto's fine show this season could see him compete with Diogo Jota for a spot in the Wolves' starting XI next season.

Neto has made 20 appearances in the league and recorded three goals and as many assists. In the coming years, he will likely challenge his compatriot Diogo Jota for a place in the Wolves’ starting XI.

Mason Mount (Chelsea)

In Mason Mount, Chelsea boss Frank Lampard has a player who mirrors the former Blues great and forms an extension of his ideas on the pitch. After impressing on loan at Derby County last season under the stewardship of Lampard, Mount has been trusted in Chelsea’s midfield ahead of some experienced names in what is his first full season in the Premier League. Mount accumulated the second-most minutes on the pitch for an outfielder, behind only skipper Cesar Azpilicueta.

Mason Mount has seven goals and five assists in his first Premier League campaign.

The 21-year-old midfielder has an abundance of energy to play in a box-to-box role, and has the passing range and an eye for scoring goals to play as an attacking midfielder. Mount outlined his importance in the side by rifling a free kick into the top corner before setting up Olivier Giroud to score in Chelsea’s all-important 2-0 win over Wolverhampton Wanderers that secured the Blues’ place in the top four.

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