Arsenal’s win over Swansea City in their FA Cup third round replay on Wednesday night sparked much excitement over the man of the match and match-winner Jack Wilshere.
It was a terrific display from the young international and one that led many to declare him as a world-class talent and one of the best playmakers in the Premier League.
It was a chorus of exultation that caused GMF’s brain cells to tingle and spark a question: Who are the best young playmakers in the Premier League?
There are a number of candidates, but the term ‘playmaker’, GMF feels, gets used far too easily for unsuitable players.
In GMF’s opinion a playmaker is the one that is on the ball throughout a game, the one that makes his team tick and will dictate the shape as well as the pace of a game.
Another debate to spring up was the question of how young is ‘young’. Well, ‘young’, it seems, is any player that is 24 and under. There is no particular scientific reasoning to this, just the age the GMF felt you needed to be before you ceased to be young in football terms.
After some serious thought, and not a little disagreeing, GMF came up with five of the best young playmakers currently operating within the confines of the Premier League.
Here they are…
Jack Wilshere – Arsenal
GMF weren’t being totally honest when we said we observed the chorus of hallelujahs over Wilshere, we were perhaps involved in those a tiny bit. Can you blame us? He was magnificent as the game wore on Wednesday night and gave a glimpse of what the future may hold.
The ability to beat a man, calm in possession, the vision to pick out a dangerous through ball and a combative nature – it sounds like the perfect blend of technique and grit that Arsenal are looking for. Just add a few more goals to that and you have what Arsene Wenger described as a complete midfielder.
Juan Mata – Chelsea
The Spaniard does not have the same penchant for battling with opponents as Wilshere, but he is second to none when it comes to the ability to create dangerous opportunities. Players of similar stature to Mata would often traditionally be written off as too small for the rigours of the Premier League but, thankfully, that period appears to be behind us.
Mata’s movement around the opposition penalty area is exemplary and he scores a good amount of goals for a midfielder and, at 24 years of age, he just makes it into the hotly disputed ‘young’ bracket.
Tom Cleverley – Manchester United
Cleverley is beginning to assume the status of a regular starter in Sir Alex Ferguson’s side this season, as Paul Scholes’ involvement is scaled down to allow some space for the 23-year-old to blossom into the player many think he can be.
He has started to form a familiarity with Michael Carrick in the centre of midfield and has shown a willingness to work up and down the pitch. Cleverley’s passing is varied and accurate but his goals tally could be improved upon, though he has found the net a couple of times recently and is clearly working on getting into the box more.
Cleverley is a very raw talent but is showing the progression and development you would hope if he is to become one of England’s leading midfielders over the next few years.
Eden Hazard – Chelsea
For a player that is playing only his first season in the Premier League playmakers, Hazard really has adapted well. You would expect the Belgian to have a few games where he gets overrun, and he has, but they have been few and far between. The former Lille star has shown he has pace, excellent dribbling ability, exquisite passing and a knack for scoring beautiful goals.
He was not cheap at £32million but few could deny his quality after seeing his progress in the first half of the season. Chelsea may be going through some rough times under Rafael Benitez at the moment, but their huge investment in the summer looks as though it could pay off, if the promise shown so far is converted into something more cohesive.
Adam Lallana – Southampton
Players playing for so-called ‘smaller’ clubs can often be overlooked in these kinds of lists, but Lallana has really stood out so far this season as a player of supreme quality. One must admire his determination to stay with the club he joined as a youth, which is beginning to bear fruit in the form of an invitation to train with the senior England squad.
A brilliant passer, Lallana can operate anywhere across the midfield or on wing and has good technique for finding space when pressed by opposition defenders. His loyalty has been rewarded with the captain’s armband this season and Southampton manager Nigel Adkins will be pleased to have him back from injury in the next few weeks. Lallana could well be a late developer, but that should not be held against him when it comes to England caps being handed out; he plays with heart, determination and possess great quality.
Lewis Holtby – Tottenham Hotspur
Signing the young German international was quite a coup for Spurs chairman Daniel Levy, and GMF is sure the decision to tie him down to a pre-contract agreement will be proved a shrewd one.
Holtby is extremely adaptable and can play anywhere in the midfield; he has terrific technique and will be a boon to Andre Villas-Boas’ strikers and wingers. With him being signed ion a free transfer, GMF can envisage him being labelled bargain of the season next term.
Who do you think are the best young playmakers in the Premier League? Leave a comment below to let us know…