England’s U21’s marched to the semi-finals of June’s European Championships but somewhat typically fell short on penalties to the Germans. In spite of the undeniable disappointment, the future looks bright for England’s youth teams.
90MAAT’s Olly Norman profiles the five players who could make their mark on the Premier League come August.
At 23 years old Jordan Pickford is already being talked about as one of the future greats for England and is now, after his £25m move to Everton, has become the fourth most expensive goalkeeper ever, behind Neuer, Ederson, and Buffon. To be mentioned up there with Buffon and Neuer speaks volumes as to how good he can be.
Second in most saves last season, fifth in most punches – the only reason Pickford didn’t have a higher clean sheet number is due to the defence in front of him. The fact that he managed to shine even within a team as dire as Sunderland were last season is testament to how good he is and how good he can be.
In the recent U21 tournament there was a penalty save in there to further show his skill, England’s eventual exit on penalties cannot be blamed on him. Next season Everton are in safe hands. The future looks bright.
The first of the three Chelsea loanees that feature on this list but arguably the one that has shown more promise when given the chance. Abraham is only 19 but at 6’3” he stands; quite literally, head and shoulders above the rest.
He was only given two opportunities in a Chelsea shirt but last season he went on loan to Bristol City from which he returned with 23 goals in 41 games, a record of 1 goal per 1.7 games, something quite unbelievable for a man playing his first full season in professional football. His performance at the recent U21 Euro’s was admittedly unremarkable; only scoring once, but the work he puts in for the team cannot be ignored.
His tracking back, clearing headers, and defending from the front is reminiscent of one Didier Drogba in his prime, not to pile pressure on someone younger than myself but the future is only looking bright for Tammy Abraham.
Hardly a new name, Baker is now 22 and the most recent tournament will be his last as an England youth player. Baker has been at Chelsea since 2005 when he was ten but has only made one appearance which came in the League cup in 2013, but he has been on loan to Sheffield Wednesday, MK Dons, and Vitesse Arnhem and it is with the latter that he has flourished.
80 appearances across two seasons with 18 goals is not a bad return for a 20 year old central midfielder but he now needs to start to deliver on this promise. He has long been ear-marked as a future Chelsea captain but it is time for the manager to show him some faith and for Baker to deliver.
He is equally as competent with his right or left and even takes penalties with both, he won the Chelsea goal of the season two years with a delightful flick against Arsenal in the FA Youth Cup but he has to mark his mark on English football. Can this year be his year?
Another Chelsea youth product, although originally at Fulham, Chalobah too is 22 and now has to prove whether or not he can cut it at the highest level, although he is arguably further down the line than his counterpart Baker. After being farmed out on loan to Watford, Notts Forest, Middlesbrough, Burnley, Reading, and even Napoli, last season Conte finally trusted him enough to give him a role in the first team.
Playing in that holding midfield role that all clubs seem to desire nowadays he could indeed prove very valuable to Chelsea, yet as she showed against Leicester with that delightful back-heel assist, he has the flair and skill of a no.10 that all modern-day footballers seem to possess.
His future looks a lot brighter than Baker’s with ten first team appearances under his belt already and now the record holder in terms of England’s youth team caps it is time for him to really kick on and prove to Antonio Conte that he can be a huge asset to the team.
Redmond is arguably the best player in this U21 group and this is absolutely related to the fact that he has the most experience out of all the players in the squad: 62 league appearances for Birmingham, 112 for Norwich, and 29 for Southampton have turned a standard winger into a genuine all round attacking threat.
A £10m move to Southampton last season has worked wonders for him playing regularly and in all positions across the front three: he earned himself an England call up for the games against Lithuania and Germany earning his first full cap in the latter.
This season Redmond has shown huge promise and this was backed up by his performances in the Euro’s, it may not have ended exactly how he wanted it too but there is no doubting that he has a long accolade ridden career ahead of him.
Written by Olly Norman.