The 2020-21 Premier League season is still at a nascent stage, though the signs have been promising so far. While teams, traditionally strong have stuttered, the mid-table finishers have emerged as the early leaders after significant activity in the transfer market.
The current market has been termed as one of “easiest in the Premier League history” by Manchester United and England legend Gary Neville, with most clubs doing enough to strengthen their existing units.
Besides investing heavily in the market, Premier League clubs also expect younger players to step up and deliver the goods for the team. Therefore, over the course of the season, eyes will be on several such players trying to make their mark on the big stage.
Here, we are going to focus on three such players who have the potential to raise the bar in the Premier League this season.
#3 Tariq Lamptey (Brighton and Hove Albion)
The youngster didn’t have a chance to immediately make an impact after signing for Brighton back in January from Chelsea. In fact, he had to wait until post-lockdown to make his debut for Graham Potter’s side. Although the best of him is only being seen this season as he makes it hard for defenders to cope with his pace down the flanks.
Manchester United legend Wayne Rooney in a recent interview with Sunday Times showered praise on Tariq Lamptey and stated that if he had the power, he would try and lure the youngster to Old Trafford.
“Personally, if I were doing their recruiting, as well as that No 9 I’d go for another centre half to partner Harry Maguire and try for Brighton & Hove Albion’s Tariq Lamptey, who looks a brilliant attacking right back.”
Tariq Lamptey has so far featured in all four Premier League games for Brighton this season and although the Seagulls have managed to win only one of the fixtures, he has caught the attention by setting up three goals for his team-mates.
For now, Graham Potter has done well to keep the teenager away from the spotlight but with such impressive performances, he could well secure a move to a bigger team in January itself.
#2 Kalvin Phillips (Leeds United)
The Leeds United academy graduate played a pivotal role in his side securing promotion to the top flight at the end of last season. The 24-year-old featured in 37 of the Whites’ 46 Championship games in 2019-20 and has shown no signs of complacency in any of the four Premier League matches he has played so far this campaign.
His impressive performances in the Premier League didn’t go unnoticed as he earned an international call-up for England’s UEFA Nations League matches against Iceland and Denmark in September. Following the announcement, Kalvin Phillips said in an interview that he didn’t expect a call-up to come so early.
“I don’t think I was expecting to get into the England squad this early, even before the season has started. I thought it would take quite a while, to be honest, but maybe I got lucky, I don’t know.”
Phillips should thank Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa for his transformation. When the Argentine took over at Elland Road, the youngster was one of the few academy graduates remaining, following the exodus triggered by former owner Massimo Cellino.
Bielsa transformed Phillips from a box-to-box midfielder to a sitting midfielder, who works as the fulcrum of the entire unit.
There is mutual admiration between the manager and Phillips which can go a long way in turning the 24-year-old into an even better player in the near future.
#3 Bukayo Saka (Arsenal)
Since his debut against Vorskla Poltava in the Europa League back in November 2018, Bukayo Saka has impressed almost every time he has been on the pitch for Arsenal.
In the absence of Kieran Tierney at the left-back position last season, the youngster had to fill in, with as many as 15 of his 38 overall appearances coming in defence.
The versatile nature of Saka’s game makes him a favourite of Mikel Arteta, who has been full of praise for the lad.
The youngster got recognition for his contributions by making it to Gareth Southgate’s England squad for the upcoming games against Wales, Belgium and Denmark.
When asked about Saka earning his maiden England call-up, Arteta said,
“I want to see it on my TV, relaxed. Now it is nothing to do with me. I am just going to be cheering for the boys, for him and for Ainsley (Maitland-Niles) as well. It has been a really difficult week I believe for Bukayo.
“Playing twice at Anfield, but with all the attention that he got from all the media after he got the call-up as well, you have to show a lot of temperament and you have to manage your emotion. I think he did that really well with a lot of maturity.
Saka has made two Premier League appearances this season, netting once.