HomeOTHERArsenal (NN)Premier League Young Guns 2014/15: Hayden, Pozo, Ibe & Ake

Premier League Young Guns 2014/15: Hayden, Pozo, Ibe & Ake

 Last season was one of real success in the Premier League for young players breaking into teams and making a name for themselves. You only have to look at the likes of Ross Barkley, Raheem Sterling and Luke Shaw for examples of this.  In this article, I am going to look at one young prospect, from each of last years top 4 teams that will be looking to make the leap into their clubs senior squad.

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Although Manchester City have bags of cash at the ready and can lure any top player that takes their fancy, youth recruitment has been a real aim in the last season or so. They have invested in a 200 million pound football academy, with the aim to bring through more homegrown talent and abide by FIFA’s financial fair play rules. Over the past few seasons, it has been a real struggle for reserve players to get a place on the bench, never mind the first team, as the squad is full of top quality, world class players in every position. However, the next player I believe will graduate into the first team is Jose Angel Pozo.

This 18 year old ex-Real Madrid star was signed in January 2012, and in his first season, he was nominated for the Academy Player of the Year award. He is a quick, no.10/secondary striker, who possesses a deadly finish and an eye for a perfectly weighted pass. Come the end of the 2012/13 season, Jose Angel Pozo ended the campaign as City’s top goalscorer by some margin at U-21 level, despite playing against players much older that him. He has also represented Spain at U-16 and U-17 level. Because City have such a strong team with quality players in every position, it will be hard for Academy players to break through, but if there is going to be one that will, Id have my money on Jose Angel Pozo.

Brendan Rodgers is renowned for developing young players and giving them the chance to impress in his first team. He is responsible for bringing through England starlet Raheem Sterling, as well as right back Jon Flanagan and attacking midfielder Suso. The Liverpool academy is full to the brim with promising youngsters, such as Jordan Rossiter, Harry Wilson and Matt Smith, looking to make the next step into the senior team. However one player in particular has been shining brighter than the rest.

18 year old Jordan Ibe was signed from Wycombe Wanderers in December 2011 aged just 16. He is a winger with searing pace and excellent dribbling ability. Ibe is also very strong, making him hard to dispossess, especially when running with the ball at his feet. One main aspect of his game is that he likes running directly at the opponents defence, meaning when opposition players try to close him down, it creates space for other Liverpool players to exploit. Since joining Liverpool, he has impressed in two pre-season campaigns having scored and assisted numerous goals. Ibe has also been loaned out to Championship side Birmingham City, where he was key in them avoiding relegation.  There have already been comparisons between him and Sterling as their play style is very similar. In his 2 years of being at Liverpool, he has developed into being one of the best youngsters in England and i wholly believe that he will set the League alight next season. If he stays at the club and doesn’t go out on loan next season, he is a name to look out for. All Liverpool fans with agree with me when i say that we have an absolute gem on our hands.

Although Chelsea’s youth teams have experienced success in recent years, such as winning the U-21 Premier League last season, it has been criticized for not producing enough players capable of break into the senior squad. Like Manchester City, Chelsea have the money to bring in players they need in any position they feel isn’t up to scratch.This means they don’t need to make as much use of their academy as other teams. Such is the quality of the Chelsea team, they were able to loan out prolific striker Romelu Lukaku for numerous seasons, as they felt they didn’t need him in their side. This is worrying for academy players who have hopes of breaking into the Chelsea squad. However over the past week, Jose Mourinho has been quoted as saying “He hopes to bring through more English players over the coming years” (he said this whilst talking about his need to have one more home grown player, in order to qualify for the Premier League regulations). I believe the next player to come through the Chelsea set up will be Nathan Ake.

The 20 year old is a very versatile player capable of playing in Centre Back, Holding Midfielder or even Left Back. He has featured heavily for Chelsea’s U-21 side as well as having played for the U-19 Dutch National team. Ake will more than likely remain at Chelsea this season, as he helps them meet the Premier League homegrown regulations. Ake is a good all round player who at the moment could feature in the squad for Cup games and be used in case of an injury crisis. After Terry, Cahill, Ivanovic and Zouma, Ake will be 5th choice centre back, but give it a few years and Ake could be one of the first names on the team sheet week in, week out.

Arsenal are another side renowned for integrating young players into their team. Alex Oxlade Chamberlain, Serge Gnabry and Jack Wilshere are all examples of players who have featured regularly last campaign despite being younger than 23 years old. At present Arsenal have a very strong and deep squad with multiple players competing for single positions. This will make it hard for younger players to break through into their senior team. However, it has been widely reported that captain Thomas Vermaelen could be on his way out of the London club, leaving Arsenal with only 2 fully recognized senior Centre Backs (excluding the versatile Calum Chambers). After impressing many people at youth level, I believe this could be Isaac Hayden’s year to get in the senior squad.

Hayden, who has captained Arsenal at every youth level, is a strong, relatively quick player, who is composed in possession, with the ability to play the ball out from the back of defence, which Arsenal like to do. The Under-19 England international is a very versatile player having played Centre Back, Centre Midfield, Right Back and even as a Goalkeeper in an U-18 match for 40 minutes. His versatility is a big advantage in his bid to get into the senior squad, as the more positions he can play in, the more likely he might feature for the side. He made his full senior debut for Arsenal in a Capital One cup game versus West Brom in which they won on penalties. Isaac Hayden won’t be a starter for Arsenal but he is a real name to look out for in the coming season both in the League Cup and in the FA Cup.

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