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20 players to watch out for in the 2021/22 Premier League season

12 mins read

The Premier League is home to numerous elite and talented players from across the world. These players are what makes the English topflight one of the most competitive and exciting football leagues in the world.

The following list includes some new signings with remarkable potential, some players who will debut in the Premier League, and few others who are set to have their career-defining season.

Let’s take a look at the 20 exciting players to watch out for in the Premier League this season.

 

Raphaël Varane (Manchester United)

The former Real Madrid centre-back is now at The Theatre of Dreams, but on this occasion to play for Manchester United. Raphaël Varane cost United £43m, quite the steal for a defender who has been the perfect partner to Sergio Ramos at Real Madrid ever since he was 21 years old and has won four Champions League trophies in the process.

Ole Gunnar Solskjær says Manchester United are signing one of the most ‘winning’ centre-backs in the world in Raphaël Varane.

“Of course, very happy that we’ve managed to get a deal with Real Madrid. Medical should hopefully be okay, he’s a proven winner, he’s a player we’ve followed for many, many years.”  Solskjær has said.

“I’m very happy getting both our players in. The club shows ambition with one of the most exciting young forwards in world football and one of the most respected centre-backs in the world and one of the most winning centre-backs in the world. With him in, we’ve got different ways of playing as well,” the United boss has commented.

Raphaël Varane’s addition boosts Manchester United’s chances of winning titles.

 

Also Read – Five new signings to look out for in the Premier League

 

Jadon Sancho (Manchester United)

The perennial transfer saga of Jadon Sancho is finally over and the winger will now play in the Premier League for Manchester United.

Having developed in Manchester City’s academy, Sancho never got to play in the English topflight for them and he was bought by Borussia Dortmund in 2017. The stylish winger has 114 goal contributions (50 goals and 64 assists) in 137 games for Dortmund – outstanding numbers from the 21-year-old.

Manchester United are blessed with a right-winger at last after many years of scavenging for the position. The pacey winger is a dependable creator and his skills on the ball are second to none. United’s fans will enjoy his flair and nutmegs this season in abundance.

 

Emile Smith Rowe (Arsenal)

Becoming the top creative force in Arsenal’s pecking order at the age of 21 delineates the talent Emile Smith Rowe possesses.

Emile made 20 appearances for the Gunners in the Premier League last season, scoring two goals and assisting four to his teammates. The orchestrator of Arsenal’s midfield had 2.72 shot-creating actions and 1.4 key passes per game.

His phenomenal performances at the top level earned him a new long-term contract at Arsenal and he will now wear the legendary number 10 shirt that has previously been donned by the likes of Dennis Bergkamp, Robin van Persie and Mesut Özil.

It will be very exciting to see Smith Rowe in the Premier League this season.

 

Curtis Jones (Liverpool)

The Liverpool academy graduate is currently one of the best young English midfielders and has played well in his increasingly regular starts, showing skillful glimpses of what he can do for Jürgen Klopp’s team.

The 20-year-old plays miles ahead of his age, “like a 26- or 27-year-old” as Klopp has previously said.

To be a Liverpool player you need more than talent. It requires hard work, concentration, devotion and self-reflection. All of which Jones has proven at times. He has great passing ability, likes to play layoffs and gives an extra attacking option to the midfield.

Now is the right time for Jones to take the next step in his career. The departure of Georginio Wijnaldum makes him a more integral part of Liverpool’s midfield. He’ll now have more minutes for the Merseyside Reds and will showcase his full potential.

 

Ibrahima Konaté (Liverpool)

Ibrahima Konaté is one of the two former centre-backs of RB Leipzig’s elite young centre-back pairing that featured him alongside Dayot Upamecano. The 22-year-old has accrued Bundesliga and Champions League experience across 95 appearances for Die Roten Bullen in his four years at the German club.

Konaté has all the characteristics to become a world-class centre-half. He is tall, fast, good in the air and has a big body frame. More importantly, he is tidy on the ball which makes him a better fit for Liverpool’s playing style of safe build-up from the deep. His rare combination of youth and experience is considered as an exciting prospect for Liverpool’s present and future. His ability to recover with the extra pace will suit the Merseyside Reds as they play with a high line under Klopp.

“I am confident that we are signing a player who can play for us right away, but he is a boy of 22 years of age who has room to improve because of his massive potential. I know that’s something he is eager to work on with us to become an even better player. For me, that’s really exciting because I have seen how good he is already and I’m looking forward to working with him when he joins up with us in pre-season,” Jürgen Klopp has said of the Frenchman.

 

Kai Havertz (Chelsea)

Havertz is the dignitary who scored the UCL final winner for Chelsea against Manchester City last season. The Germany international had a difficult start to his Chelsea career after joining them ahead of the 20/21 season under Frank Lampard, but after the takeover of Thomas Tuchel he has been getting better and better every week.

The German midfielder made 27 appearances for the Blues in the league season and contributed 9 times (4 goals and 5 assists). He is still adapting to the pace and physicality of the Premier League and with the experience of one full season, he must be getting ready to be the unwavering star for the Stamford Bridge-based club.

 

Ben White (Arsenal)

Ben White’s transfer from Brighton & Hove Albion to Arsenal for £50m puts him amongst the top 10 most expensive defenders in the world. The England international is going to be a valuable asset for Mikel Arteta’s team in their hunt for a top-four position.

Arsenal have shown their faith in White’s potential, and Arteta has cited his education under Marcelo Bielsa and his role in Graham Potter’s free-flowing passing side as reasons behind this move.

“Ben was a top target for us and it’s great that we’ve completed his signing. Ben has been educated with two very good clubs, Brighton and Leeds, in recent seasons. He has benefited well from two very good coaching set-ups and has shown with both Brighton and on loan with Leeds what a strong talent he is,” the Arsenal boss has said of White.

Ben White possesses great dribbling and passing abilities which makes him the defender for Arteta’s system, as he likes his team to build on short passes and defy the opposition press.

 

Wesley Fofana (Leicester City)

Wesley Fofana joined Leicester City last season after his successful breakthrough campaign with Ligue 1’s Saint-Étienne. He has already proven his class in the Premier League while playing for the Foxes in the 20/21 season and is already regarded as one of the best centre-backs currently in the Premier League.

The 20-year-old is a top front-foot defender who uses his raw pace, size and athletic ability to defend at all costs. For a young player, Fofana’s concentration levels and reading of the game are absolutely fabulous. When he sees an onrushing attacker, he keeps a close eye on the ball before engaging his man to a dominant effect as his 1v1 defending is brilliant.

Fofana won 60% of the aerial duels he contested in his total of 28 appearances and also won an average of 1.8 tackles per game in the league last season. He is certainly a player to watch out for.

 

Ismaïla Sarr (Watford)

The Senegalese attacker was once very close to joining Manchester United in summer 2020, but the move failed and he ended up staying at Watford. His performances in the Championship were integral in Watford’s journey back to the Premier League.

Sarr has the all-important ‘Premier League experience’ as he played for Watford in the 19/20 season when he scored 5 goals and produced 6 assists in 28 appearances. In the Championship in 20/21, he scored 13 goals and assisted 10 over 39 appearances.

Sarr can play in various positions all across the front line – as a left-winger, right-winger or striker. But he usually operates as a right-winger, where he likes to pick the ball from the deep and carry to the final third dribbling past opponents. His crossing is very good, and he plays brilliant horizontal balls to the near post. In a nutshell, “Ismaïla Sarr is a prodigious winger”.

 

Billy Gilmour (Norwich City)

The Chelsea wonderkid is on loan at Norwich City for the 21/22 season to get regular first-team minutes which he couldn’t get at Chelsea due to the competitive presence of N’Golo Kanté, Jorginho and Mateo Kovačić.

This must be the breakthrough season for the Scottish midfielder as he is touted to be a future Chelsea star. The 20-year-old recently showed his class in the middle of the park in Euro 2020 as he dictated the play from the deep and earned Scotland a priceless point against the Three Lions, earning himself the Man of the Match award in the process.

There is a very interesting fact to his name, as Gilmour was named Man of the Match on his full FA Cup debut against Liverpool, first Premier League start against Everton and even his first Champions League start against Krasnodar.

Gilmour is an exciting player to have for the Canaries’ manager Daniel Farke, who will be trying hard to keep his team in the Premier League.

 

Max Aarons (Norwich City)

Another player from England’s talented pool of right-backs, Max Aarons has already demonstrated his breathtaking adroitness in the Premier League for Daniel Farke’s Norwich City in the 2019/20 season.

Aarons was heavily linked with a move to Manchester United and Bayern Munich previously, but a move failed to materialise and still his future at Norwich City is not certain as Arsenal are looking to strengthen their squad with his addition if they can sell Héctor Bellerín.

Aarons is the main man in the Norwich backline and will surely be amongst the players to watch out for this season.

 

Emiliano Buendía (Aston Villa)

The consummate Argentine attacking midfielder will now be seen in the claret and blue colours of Aston Villa. The Birmingham club have signed the former Norwich City player for a reported club record fee of £33m.

Buendía was named the Sky Bet Championship Player of the Season after he played a key role for Norwich City, taking them straight back to the Premier League.

Emi Buendía created the most chances for Norwich City in the Premier League 19/20 season, spreading 2.3 key passes per game and while scoring once and assisting 7 goals.

Aston Villa now have an outstanding bunch of players as they continue to fight for a top-half position in the league. Having put the Jack Grealish money to good use, their playing XI will definitely be capable enough to get the better of any team on their day.

 

Ezri Konsa (Aston Villa)

The stalwart in Aston Villa’s defence is rightfully regarded as one of the most underrated defenders in the Premier League.

Konsa has all the qualities needed to be a world-class centre-back in future. He’s a tall, pacey defender who makes excellent recoveries, is good at tackling and is brilliant on the ball, having boasted 85% successful passes and 2.1 accurate long balls per game in the league last season, while also having 12 clean sheets to his name.

Ezri Konsa has made himself a fan favourite at Villa Park. He incorporates exactly what Dean Smith wants from his players – hard work and commitment. His reading of the game has majorly improved over the past one year and it’s clear to see why he has become a key player for the Villa manager.

 

Ben Godfrey (Everton)

Having joined from relegated Norwich City in October 2020 for £26m, Godfrey has been a regular in the Everton side ever since. He made 31 appearances in the Premier League last season under Carlo Ancelotti and had 11 clean sheets under his belt.

The 23-year-old’s versatility has allowed him to play all across the back four for Everton.

“I think the best quality Ben Godfrey has is the speed. He’s really fast, really aggressive without the ball, tactically good, he can play all the positions without any problem,” Carlo Ancelotti has said of Godfrey.

Ben Godfrey is positionally adept in whatever role he plays, and his intelligence and fantastic defensive abilities makes him a perfect fit for the Premier League.

 

Patson Daka (Leicester City)

Patson Daka is regarded as the future replacement of Leicester City and Premier League legend Jamie Vardy. He was the striking partner of Erling Haaland in the Red Bull Salzburg setup. His numbers for the Austrian side are insane and not too dissimilar to what Haaland produced.

The 22-year-old striker scored 51 league goals in just 59 appearances in the last two seasons for the Austrian Bundesliga side. Patson is speedy, powerful, good in the air and can shoot with both feet and has a phenomenal winning attitude.

The Zambian striker will now hope to follow the paths of Sadio Mané and Erling Haaland from being a potential prodigy at Red Bull Salzburg to stardom on the big stage.

Ivan Toney (Brentford)

Brentford striker Ivan Toney broke Glenn Murray’s record of most goals scored in a Championship season last year. He was prolific for the Bees in the Championship, scoring 31 goals in 45 games and assisted 10 goals (he scored a further two in three Play-off games).

Toney often drops deep from his central striking berth to link-up the play with his teammates and has the ability to contribute for others. In addition to being able to finish with both feet, he is also strong in winning aerial duels against the opponent defenders, which adds another dimension to his game as he is always available in the box for crosses.

Ivan was linked with a move to Leeds United, but the Bees are seemingly securing his services for at least one more season in their pursuit of staying in the top division after coming back for the first time since 1947.

 

Raphinha (Leeds United)

Leeds United bought the Brazilian winger at the start of the 20/21 season for a reported amount of £17m. That is definitely a steal considering the fantastic qualities he has got which garnered such instant love from fans last season, not only the Leeds fans but also the football fans in general no matter whom they supported.

“As soon as he came in and I saw him in training… you know sometimes whether a player is top class, and he really was,” said Patrick Bamford. “He stood out straight away.”

He is “unbelievable” in the opinion of Luke Ayling, “fantastic”, according to Jack Harrison, and “a steal” as far as Bamford is concerned.

The stylish winger bagged 6 goals for the Peacocks and produced 9 assists in 30 Premier League games last season. His ability to go past the opponent defenders with ease is a breathtaking sight to watch.

 

Illan Meslier (Leeds United)

The France U21 international has been a key figure between the sticks at Elland Road since Leeds United’s return to the Premier League. He made 35 appearances for the Peacocks in the league last season, keeping a clean sheet in 11 of them.

Meslier ranked joint fifth for the number of clean sheets in the league last season. This is particularly impressive given the kind of offensive game Leeds play and in a system where a lot is expected from each individual on the field. Not many goalkeepers get through their first Premier League season in the fashion that Meslier has and that too at the age of 21.

Illan is very assured in goal, has great ball distribution all across the field as well as brilliant reflexes which make him such a reliable figure in goal. He will only get better from this point and will do great if he rectifies the rare mistakes and be a bit more consistent.

 

Bryan Gil (Tottenham Hotspur)

This is a move that caught many off-guard as Tottenham made a player-plus-cash deal with Sevilla for the Spanish wonderkid, sending Erik Lamela to the other side.

Gil is a classic left-footed left-winger who likes getting to the byline and putting crosses for the strikers in the box. That is very rare in a world of wingers who like to cut inside to shoot or make spaces for the fullbacks to overlap.

His 67 successful dribbles were the fifth highest in LaLiga last season, that too while playing for an Eibar side who finished bottom in the league. Gil is capable of getting past the opponents because of his beautiful close control of the ball and loves to operate in the pocket spaces.

Gil is a diamond in the rough that needs refining, and the physical side of his game needs development in order to adjust according to the physicality of the Premier League. He is not a finished product yet, but he is definitely a star in the making.

 

Yves Bissouma (Brighton & Hove Albion)

Bissouma is a strong and intelligent central defensive midfielder from Mali who has been an important asset to Graham Potter’s side’s survival in the Premier League. The 24-year-old has established himself as one of Brighton’s star players with some excellent performances over the past three seasons.

Bissouma is tenacious, capable of breaking up the opposition attacking play with energetic interceptions in the middle of the park, and also has good technique in addition to being a good passer of the football. His physical strength makes him the favourite to win duels against most of the players. The 24-year-old won 59% of his duels and 2.9 tackles per game in the Premier League last season.

Bissouma works hard, is fully committed to his team’s success, and has the concentration required for a defensive midfielder. His positional awareness gives him an extra edge against the opposition.

“The best Bissouma can play in the Champions League, absolutely. He’s got that quality, those attributes you need at that level. It’s about being consistent,” Graham Potter has said of the Mali international.

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