The Premier League has nurtured some of the greatest talent across Europe over the years. Clubs such as Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester United and more boast some of the best academies in world football that have safeguarded their club’s future.
Apart from homegrown talent, there have been quite a few youngsters from across the world who have earned their place in the English top-flight. These stars may still be learning their trade but have been impressive in arguably the world’s most competitive league.
There is an abundance of young talent in the Premier League
This season has introduced us to some sensational young talents that have given even the most seasoned veterans a run for their money. Their performances have also led to a rise in their value in the market and will undoubtedly be on the radar of top clubs in the summer.
Let us now take a look at the most valuable Premier League XI comprising of players aged 21 and below. A 4-2-3-1 formation has been chosen for this lineup.
GK: Kristoffer Klaesson: £1.8 million
Kristoffer Klaesson signed for Leeds United at the start of the 2021-22 season from Norwegian club Valeranga. He made a massive jump from the Norwegian top-flight to the Premier League. The 21-year-old was brought in as the Peacocks’ reserve keeper and has made just one senior appearance so far.
Klaesson’s Premier League debut came in a way he wouldn’t have expected. The Norwegian came on for Illan Meslier, who injured himself during a collision with Wolverhampton Wanderers’ Raul Jimenez earlier in March.
Klaesson showed tremendous composure in the frantic battle at Molineux and also pulled off a couple of fantastic saves. Leeds came back from two goals down to win 3-2.
Klaesson’s market value is currently £1.8 million but will undoubtedly rise the more game time he gets.
LB: Rayan Ait-Nouri: £13.5 million
Rayan Ait-Nouri has been one of the most consistent performers for Wolves this season. The left-back signed for the club on loan from Angers in October 2020 before eventually securing a permanent deal at Molineux.
The 20-year-old has proved to be a solid defensive presence for Wolves and has also chipped in on the other end of the pitch. The Frenchman leads Wolves’ assists charts this season with four so far.
Ait-Nouri has garnered praise for his all-round performances in the backline and is currently worth £13.5 million as per Transfermarkt. The Frenchman has played a part in Wolves’ commendable league campaign thus far. The Midlands club are eighth in the league.
RB: Tino Livramento: £22.5 million
Another brilliant Chelsea academy graduate, Tino Livramento, has been an incredible signing for Southampton. The 19-year-old joined the Saints from Chelsea for just £5 million last summer and has been their standout performer this season.
Livramento has been lively on the wing and has shown maturity beyond his years in high-pressure situations. The Englishman is currently valued at £22.5 million as per Transfermarkt’s data.
Southampton are currently 11th in the league and will be aiming for a top-half finish. Chelsea’s Cesar Azpilicueta’s contract expires this summer and a renewal seems unlikely. Hence, the Blues might take advantage of Livramento’s buy-back clause of £25 million to use him as the Spaniard’s replacement.
CB: Marc Guehi: £27 million
Marc Guehi joined Crystal Palace for around £18m at the start of the season from Chelsea. He has been a phenomenal presence in their backline. The Englishman has been reliable in Palace’s defense and is on his way to becoming a solid center back.
The 21-year-old is currently valued at £27 million according to Transfermarkt. Chelsea have a history of producing superb talent and Guehi, who was part of their academy, is a testament to the same.
Apart from Palace’s game against Tottenham Hotspur, Guehi has played every other minute of the Premier League campaign so far. He has also been a key factor in Palace’s run in the FA Cup and helped his side reach the semi-finals.
CB: Wesley Fofana: £36 million
Wesley Fofana has been one of Leicester City’s best signings in recent years. The Frenchman signed for the Foxes from St. Etienne at the start of the 2020-21 season and had a stellar debut season.
Fofana was voted as Leicester’s Fan’s Young Player of the Year for the 2020-21 season and was also key in their successful FA Cup campaign. The Frenchman is currently valued at £36 million according to Transfermarkt.
The young centre-back had not made a Premier League appearance this season due to an injury sustained in a pre-season game. However, Fofana made a dream return to the side in their Conference League tie against Rennes on 16 March. He scored a crucial goal that saw Leicester enter the quarter-finals.
CM: Curtis Jones: £27 million
A Liverpool boy through-and-through, Curtis Jones began his journey at the Reds’ academy. He made his debut against Wolves in the FA Cup in January 2019.
Jones is slowly becoming the new midfield hero for Liverpool with his superb performances. He may not be playing as much as he would like, but there is no denying the potential Jones possesses.
The 21-year-old is currently worth £27 million as per the data from Transfermarkt. Jones, along with the equally talented Harvey Elliott, should be a regular feature in the Premier League for Liverpool in the seasons to follow.
CM: Phil Foden: £81 million
Manchester City’s Phil Foden has fit right into Manchester City’s sublime system and has the makings of a world-class midfielder. The Englishman has shone in a City midfield that comprises of superstars like Kevin De Bruyne and Bernardo Silva.
Foden is amongst the most valuable Premier League players and has a lofty price tag of £81 million as per Transfermarkt. The 21-year-old has seven goals and three assists in the league thus far.
Apart from his immaculate ball control and dribbling, Foden has also displayed his versatility. Along with his usual role in midfield, he has also played on the wing and as a centre-forward. The Englishman will be a key figure for both club and country in the years to come.
CAM: Emile Smith Rowe: £36 million
After showing just glimpses of brilliance last season, Emile Smith Rowe has finally found his feet at Arsenal. At just 21, the Hale End academy graduate has been a massive influence on the Gunners’ season.
Smith Rowe is part of a young Arsenal side that has been full of vigor and enthusiasm this season. He has scored nine Premier League goals and is the club’s joint-top scorer, level with Bukayo Saka.
The 21-year-old is valued at £36 million as per Transfermarkt. With the attacking prowess he has displayed, Smith Rowe will be an invaluable asset to the Gunners as well as the England national side going forward.
LW: Gabriel Martinelli: £34.2 million
Another young Gunner on the list, Gabriel Martinelli has been sensational on the wing for Arsenal this season. The Brazilian signed for the club from Brazilian side Ituano for a fee of £6 million in 2019 and has proven to be a bargain.
Martinelli is currently worth £34.2 million and has five goals and three assists in the Premier League so far. Martinelli has been a serious threat on the left flank for the Gunners. He has performed exceptionally well even against top quality teams like Liverpool and Manchester City.
Martinelli was named Arsenal’s Player of the Month for December and January and is only going to get better as his confidence grows.
RW: Bukayo Saka: £58.5 million
Bukayo Saka has the world at his feet at the age of just 21. The Englishman represented his nation in the Euro 2020 finals and was also part of Arsenal’s FA Cup winning side two seasons ago.
The 21-year-old has nine goals and five assists in the league so far. He is Arsenal’s leading goalscorer along with the aforementioned Smith Rowe. Saka is the second most expensive U-21 player in the league and is valued at £58.5 million.
Saka’s link-up play has been the highlight this season. His intricate passes with the likes of Martin Odegaard and Alexandre Lacazette have created loads of chances for the Gunners. Arsenal are currently fourth in the Premier League and have their eyes set on a spot in next season’s Champions League.
ST: Fabio Silva: £16.2 million
After an impressive spell with Porto, Fabio Silva caught the attention of Wolves. The Premier League side promptly signed the Portuguese striker in the summer of 2020. The transfer raised a few eyebrows as Wolves splashed £36 million on Silva.
Silva has had a dismal spell with the Midlands club and has managed to score just four goals in 57 appearances. However, it would be too harsh to judge the striker given that he’s just 19.
Silva is currently worth £16.2 million according to Transfermarkt. With Jimenez suspended, it is likely that Silva will get more minutes to prove his worth to Bruno Lage.