Youngsters being given opportunities to impress in pre-season is not uncommon. 

However, once the proper action begins, only the club’s best prospects will be given an opportunity to shine on world football’s biggest stage - the Barclays Premier League.

Last season saw the emergence of talented academy graduates like Andros Townsend, Luke Shaw and Raheem Sterling, with the latter even being rewarded with an England call up for his bright early season performances.

But who will be the ones to burst onto the scene this season? We take a look at five young players that could make a big impact this season.

Graham Burke - Aston Villa

The 19-year-old Irishman may be relatively unknown by those who do not closely follow Villa but Burke is widely tipped for the top by the Villa Park faithful. 

Having made his full debut, and to date his only senior appearance as a 76th minute substitute against Tranmere in the Capital One cup last term, Burke will be hoping for more first team opportunities in the coming campaign.

The Dublin born attacker can play either as a striker or in a more deep-lying midfield role. He really came into his own last season in the NextGen series helping Villa’s youth beat the likes of Ajax, Olympiacos and Sporting Lisbon, before eventually scoring twice in the final as they beat Chelsea 2-0 to win the tournament. 

Having also been given his Ireland Under 21 debut, Burke is definitely one to watch.

Adnan Januzaj - Manchester United

After starring in United’s Under 21 side that lifted the Barclays Under 21 Premier League title last year, the 18-year-old Belgian is believed to be under new manager David Moyes’ radar. Having featured in Moyes’ first starting XI as manager against Singha All-Stars, surely it won’t be long before we see Januzaj getting an opportunity in the Premier League.

Chuba Akpom - Arsenal

Having made his debut for Arsenal’s Under-18 side at the age of just 15, the pacy striker’s coaches recognised his potential at an early age. 

Arsene Wenger has an excellent reputation for bringing through young players and in recent years has shown a desire to create a core of young British players at the club. 

He has scored six goals in seven caps for England under 19s, including a brace against Denmark in February.

Akpom has so far featured in both of Arsenal’s pre-season friendlies, scoring once against the Indonesia Dream Team, and twice against Vietnam, Wenger will surely be taking note.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek – Chelsea

The all-action midfielder first came into the limelight when it was revealed in March that he was being paid £1.7 million a year as a 17-year-old youth team player.

Whilst his salary was questioned, once he had featured in Chelsea’s post season friendly against Manchester City, his talent definitely wasn’t. 

Having been included by then manager Rafael Benitez in the starting line-up, Loftus-Cheek gave a performance that drew comparisons with the oppositions’ Yaya Toure, showing a natural ability to pick a pass and charge through the midfield.

Successful academy graduates have been painfully few and far between at Chelsea, but in Ruben Loftus-Cheek, new manager Jose Mourinho possesses a real talent should he wish to call upon him.

Lloyd Jones - Liverpool

Since joining Liverpool from then cash strapped Plymouth Argyle back in 2011, the Welsh youth international has come on leaps and bounds at Anfield. A commanding centre-back, Jones has been commended on his aerial ability, as well as his willingness to play the ball out from the back.

The 2012-13 campaign saw a meteoric rise for the 17-year-old defender, first breaking into Liverpool’s Under 21 side, before eventually being selected for the substitute’s bench by boss Brendan Rodgers for the first team’s penultimate match of the season against Fulham.

Possessing natural pace and awareness, Jones has the ability to become an Anfield favourite.


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#Premier League
#Manchester United
#Liverpool
#Aston Villa
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#Chelsea
#Arsenal