Top 5 English Stars Breaking Through in 2021/22
With the 2022 Qatar World Cup on the horizon, Gareth Southgate will be keeping his eye out on the next crop of young English talent. It’s fair to say that England has produced some astoundingly good players over the years through youth systems and this hasn’t stopped in recent years. Players like Trent Alexander-Arnold and Phil Foden have lit up the scene for club and country before even turning 23. Both are Premier League winners and have been to three Champions League finals between them, with the former winning it back in 2019.
Alexander-Arnold and Foden are already considered senior players in the England squad, but who will form part of the next, next generation? Let’s take you through some of the English players that have truly broken through this season and could be real difference makers for English football in the future.
Jude Bellingham is a central midfielder from the city of Birmingham. He has a focus on playmaking and attacking but is also an excellent ball winner. He has flair and does the nitty gritty side well. He has already established himself as a first team player this season, in a very strong Borussia Dortmund side. He has had a similar story to Man Utd star Jadon Sancho, instead of staying in England – they both made to the switch to Dortmund in Germany.
The club is known for their player development, and it is a very smart move to improve your trade in their team. Here are just a few perks for young English players who move abroad:
- Gives them experience in another country which helps to mature younger players.
- Allows them to play against some elite players and compete for top trophies.
- Improves communication skills with players of other languages, as English will not be the priority there.
Overall, going to Germany is a great way to build young English players’ confidence and Jude has certainly done so. At the age of 18 he is already a consistent pick for England and performs extremely well. His accomplishments at such a young age are amazing. He will no doubt go on to be one of England’s all-time greats and the English club that inevitably lands him will be extremely lucky.
ESR is a player who personifies the positivity surrounding Arsenal football club this season. His introduction came in 2020/21 but he really started to capture the country’s attention this campaign. He plays the majority of his football in the no.10 role at Arsenal, a position that has housed some Premier League greats in the past such as Mesut Ӧzil, Santi Cazorla and Dennis Bergkamp. Arsenal had been in a rough patch for a long time, and it is no coincidence that Smith-Rowe’s arrival has coincided with Arsenal’s best Premier League season since Arsene Wenger left in 2018.
Smith-Rowe is a playmaker who makes things happen in the final third. He has the ability to play the killer pass, get involved in link-up play and even grab a goal himself. He is Arsenal’s joint top scorer in the league with nine goals. The player he shares this feat with is another youngster, Bukayo Saka. who could’ve made this list a couple of years ago. Smith-Rowe has also performed well for England, and despite only being called up for recent fixtures, he has managed to get himself on the score sheet in just his first three caps. Expect to see the Arsenal midfielder playing for England in Qatar if he continues his good form.
Smith-Rowe has proved his worth at Arsenal time and time again. The signing of attacking midfielder Martin Ødegaard hasn’t disrupted him in the slightest. If Arsenal do manage to maintain their position and make the top four, then he could be an outside shout for PFA Young Player of the Year. He will certainly face competition from his teammate Bukayo Saka, though.
Yet another midfielder on the list, Conor Gallagher is another player who has really shown his worth this season. He signed his first pro contract in 2019 at Chelsea after eleven years in their youth academy. He then went out on loan to Charlton Athletic and registered an impressive 26 appearances in the league, scoring six times. He followed this up with another loan move to Swansea City and his impressive performances for the Welsh side earned him a Premier League loan at West Bromwich Albion. His excellent loan form continued and at this point Chelsea certainly knew they had a serious player on their hands.
But it wasn’t until this season that Gallagher truly began to show the Premier League what he’s made of. Chelsea decided to loan Gallagher again and what a great decision that has turned out to be. Under the guidance of manager Patrick Vieira, Gallagher has blossomed at Crystal Palace. He is a dynamic box to box midfield player who has scored some amazing goals in crucial moments for the Eagles, earning him his first England call up. He has made three appearances for the Three Lions thus far and he will certainly be eyeing a place in Southgate’s squad come November.
Despite his amazing form this season, it wouldn’t come as a surprise to see Chelsea loan Gallagher once again. He will be looking for first team football consistently and with Chelsea’s vast midfield options he may struggle for gametime.
Another Cobham talent making this list is Tino Livramento. He spent twelve years in the Chelsea academy and in 2021 he expected to sign his first pro contact with the London club. When talks stalled, he instead opted to sign for Southampton. This has turned out to be a wonderful decision for the young fullback as he has established himself as their starting right sided defender. He has been excellent for the Saints. Bombing up and down the right-hand side, defending brilliantly and providing a nice attacking outlet too. He has scored his first Premier League goal this season as well as recording his first assist.
He may still have some time to go before he finds himself being called up for England, but there is certainly a bright future ahead for the Croydon lad. Chelsea knew this and inserted a buy-back clause in his contract. According to sources, this is set at £38 million and is active from 2023. If he continues on his upward trajectory, then this could be fine business for Southampton and a steal for Chelsea. Having a hungry, talented Livramento competing with Reece James would be a sight to behold. Especially for Chelsea fans…
Guéhi is another talented player that has come out of… you guessed it: Cobham. The Chelsea talent factory has been in full force for many years now and it seems that they cannot stop producing top young players. He also spent 12 years in the Chelsea academy before signing his first pro contract with Chelsea in 2019. The same year that Conor Gallagher signed. The centre-back spent one and a half seasons on loan at Swansea, making 52 Championship appearances.
His impressive spell in Wales earned him a Premier League transfer to join Crystal Palace. Unlike Cobham graduate Gallagher, Guéhi isn’t on loan. He signed for the Eagles on a permanent transfer for a fee that could reach £20 million. Chelsea were able to negotiate a sell-on clause if Palace go on to sell their man and they also have the right of first refusal, giving them the chance to sign him for the same fee that another club offers, if Palace accepts of course. It is likely that clubs will be looking out for him as he has been brilliant this season, even earning his first England cap in a friendly vs Switzerland.
Despite making an appearance for the Three Lions, he is still eligible to represent the Ivory Coast at the international stage. Until he makes a competitive appearance for England, he is still able to make the switch. Patrick Beaumelle, the manager of the Ivorian national team has not given up on securing Guéhi for his side.
It is fair to say that England are in safe hands for the time being. With the vast amount of talent coming out of the country every season, the next generation looks like it will be very strong. With the wait for a trophy extending to 56 years, every England fan will be hoping that the next crop will be able to farm victories and harvest a major trophy in the coming years.
For now, the England squad is looking the strongest it has for many years. The group have had two successful major tournament performances, making the semi-finals of the World Cup and reaching the final of Euro 2020. Only a penalty shootout stopped England from winning the competition. Southgate’s side will be more than motivated to go that step further and bring it home for England later this year.
Author: Jude Sutcliffe