2015/2016 English Premier League Season: The year of the youngsters part 2


Having finished sixth during the 2014-2015 season, it was necessary for Liverpool to go into the transfer market. Of all the transfers the cheapest was 19 year old defender Joe Gomez that cost just £3.5 million from third tier side Charlton Athletic. Gomez who can play either as a left or centre back made his debut in the first game of the season against Stoke City and assisted the only goal of the match scored by Philippe Coutinho. He would go on to start the next four league games and he received praise for his style of play compared to Rio Ferdinand. His season was unfortunately ended when he injured his anterior crucial ligament while on England U-21 duty last October. Gomez has shown what he is made of and surely once the new season begins, he should fit well into Jurgen Klopp’s plans as he builds on a bright and successful career.Joe+Gomez+Arsenal+v+Liverpool+Premier+League+sOxmxWjHo04l

MANCHESTER UNITED: Cameron Borthwick-Jackson, Marcus Rashford, Timothy Fosu-Mensah

Manchester United’s season did not go according to plan largely thanks to some poor decision making by Louis van Gaal. While the Dutchman forced a mass exodus of players he saw surplus to requirements at Old Trafford, he did not make adequate reinforcements and it became glaring when a severe injury crisis hit the club. LvG had nowhere but to turn to the youth academy and Cameron Borthwick-Jackson, Timothy Fosu-Mensah and Marcus Rashford stepped up to the occasion.Manchester+United+v+Stoke+City+Premier+League+Q5AG7wdyUbolCameron Borthwick- Jackson became a first team regular following long term injuries to Marcos Rojo and Ashley young. It was a big hole for him to fill at the just 19 Years of age and he did well as a solid left back playing with precision, knowing when to overlap and track back. He balanced the equation and United got some decent results as he made 14 overall appearances. Borthwick-Jackson recently signed a new contract keeping at Old Trafford till at least 2020. Manchester+City+v+Manchester+United+Premier+L9BezICno_ylMarcus Rashford would be the next big thing to burst into the limelight. He scored a first half brace in United’s 5-1 triumph over FC Midtjylland in the Europa League last 32 followed by another brace against Arsenal in the Premier League. From that moment, this kid that had been in United’s youth system since he was seven years old announced his name to the world at age 18 with superb pace and movement which brought an exciting dimension to United’s game play. Rashford scored eight goals 17 total appearances and his fine form caught the eye of England manager Roy Hodgson. He was named in the Three Lions 23-man Euro 2016 squad, scoring on his debut in a pre-tournament warmup against Australia. New United boss Jose Mourinho hasn’t been a fan of using youth but it would be impossible for him to shy away from the promising future prospect. Like Borthwick-Jackson, Rashford also signed a new contract until 2020. West+Ham+United+v+Manchester+United+Emirates+CzvQvjbW7EzlTimothy Fosu-Mensah was another United youth product to shine. The 18 year old made his first team debut in the 3-2 win over Arsenal, coming on the injured Rojo. His presence was felt on the field that day as he defended astutely to prevent Arsenal from scoring a third goal and beyond. He also set up Rashford’s second goal of the game. The versatile Dutch teenager would go on to make 12 overall appearances on either flank with Red Devils faithful praising him for his strength and determination.

MANCHESTER CITY: Kelechi Iheanacho

Man City run a very large youth academy but hardly has anyone fit into the first team when Sheikh Mansour has the millions to splash on big names. However, Kelechi Iheanacho must have given the billionaire a rethink after impressing in pre-season. The Nigerian came into the spotlight after grabbing his first goal in the final minutes of a nervy 1-0 win at Crystal Palace last September. With Wilfried Bony injured, Iheanacho had the chance to make more headlines and he did so forming a telepathic partnership with Sergio Aguero. The 19 year old made the biggest of headlines when he scored a hattrick in City’s 4-0 demolition of Aston Villa in the fourth round of the FA Cup. He was rewarded with a place in the squad for the Champions League knockout phases and also the Nigerian national team. He scored a goal a piece in Nigeria’s recent international matches against Mali and Luxembourg. Manchester+City+v+Stoke+City+Premier+League+bbR3OR-cMAElIheanacho scored 14 goals in 35 overall appearances and as a versatile and gifted player, he is the first City youth product in the sheikh’s era to be integrated into the senior squad. With the imminent arrival of Pep Guardiola, he would surely use Iheanacho and probably delve into the academy to look for more talent rather than go for expensive and over hyped players that don’t live up to expectations.

Kunle Fayiga

Writer & Blogger

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