Premier League Young Player of the Season Contenders Twenty One and Under

Published on 16 May 2024 at 20:00

The official Premier League Young Player of the season nominees have been revealed, but have suffered a backlash due to the age including players up the age of 23 years at the start of the 2023-24 campaign. Many fans and pundits have disagreed with the inclusion of star-studded professionals such as Erling Haaland and Phil Foden, believing the award should be capped at 21 and under and highlighting break-out youngsters who have burst onto the scene this season. Therefore, HL Division Sport have re-written the script compiling our own version of the award which only includes players 21 and under from start of 2023-24 season


6. Malo gusto

Reece James is largely considered paramount to Chelsea's form, so when the injury-stricken captain re-aggravated his persistent hamstring injury in early October Blues fans feared the worst.

The 24 year old has been sidelined for five months, which has facilitated the emergence of Frenchman Malo Gusto who has been a seamless replacement. Gusto epitomises the modernised overlapping full-back, with an incessant desire to get forward and make runs in behind.

The 20 year old has been a key influence in making Chelsea a free-scoring team this campaign, where he creates chances by driving down to the by-line. Initially, he showed weakness defensively lacking the physicality and strength at the back and he has been culpable of losing his man on occasions this season.

However, few supporters would have anticipated being able to find a right-back who is capable of challenging a player of Reece James' quality and his development this season has signalled one of the few positives at the West London club.

The former Lyon starlet has nine assists in all competitions in 36 games and he looks to be a strategic transfer from Chelsea's hap-hazardous board who have rarely have got a signing right so far under Todd Boehly.


5. Harvey elliott

The teenage sensation had been on the periphery of Jurgen Klopp's starting eleven in recent seasons, but in 2023-24 Elliott appears to have finally found a consistent opportunity to shine. One of the significant changes this campaign has been his productivity in front of goal, where he has scored four goals and made 10 assists in 52 games.

Elliott brings something distinctly different to Liverpool's primary midfield trio of Mac Allister, Endo and Szoboszlai. He has a nimbleness and intricacy dribbling with the ball, which allows him to operate in tight areas and he is one of the few flair players willing to use his skill against opponents.

It is clear that gradually during this season Klopp has entrusted more responsibility into the 21 year old, he has started four of Liverpool's last five league matches and after Liverpool's shock 1-0 defeat to Crystal Palace which dented their title hopes, Elliott was one of the first changes to start in their next game.

He has that rare stardom with an ability to change games, his small stature does mean he gets knocked off the ball easily and nullified in big games but he is always capable of that one moment of magic which lifts Anfield.


4. michael olise

If Olise had fulfilled the season injury free like many of his contenders, he could easily be challenging for the first spot and he might have finished the campaign on 20 goals fighting for the golden boot.

He has played 18 games in the league for Crystal Palace scoring 10 goals and making five assists. He has become the successor to Wilfrid Zaha at Selhurst Park, integral to everything good about the Eagles.

This season has has reached new heights, scoring the most goals in a season during his career and he has looked unplayable since Oliver Glasner arrived in the dug-out given the freedom to free-roam and effect the game.

The 22 year old is destined for a blockbuster move in the summer, he tormented one potential suitor in Manchester United last week slaloming through their entire defense and sending Casemiro flying before slotting the ball past Andre Onana.

It feels that under Roy Hodgson his negative tactic's supressed Olise's talent, and it is so refreshing to see him under a manager now who sets his team up to attack.

When he receives the ball, their is an excitement and unpredictability of what he will do, but one thing many teams have discovered this season is that if he cuts in one his left foot he will find the top left corner of the goal.


3. kobbie mainoo

The 19 year old has been Ten Hag's saving grace this season elevating a midfield which has been in disarray. The number 37 is effortless in everything he does and no matter the level this season he has remained confident and unfazed.

His emergence before the new year strengthened the team tactically, because finally Ten Hag had a dynamic midfielder who could receive the ball from the back, turn and beat the press. Everything he does is positive, he is always looking at making an impact and driving forward which has been so important in creating an attacking flow.

Amongst the billions United spend on big names, this season their best player has been a homegrown local boy from Stockport who has outperformed every single one of his teammates.

His all-round ability is unbelievable, this season he has scored two goal of the season contenders with his solo run against Wolves and curling beauty at Old Trafford against Liverpool.

No matter what happens this summer at Manchester United, whoever is in the dugout next season needs to build around Mainoo, in a disastrous season for Manchester United where they have conceded the most goals in a single season in the club's history he has been their bright shining light.


2. bukayo saka

It shows the consistency and longevity of Bukayo Saka's performances that he is still only 22, it feels like he's been in the Premier League forever. The winger has reached the next level this season with 20 goals and 14 assists in all competitions including 16 goals in the league.

Yet, surprisingly he's faced the most criticism in his career with pundits and supporters questioning his presence in big games and many are still convinced that the England star is still not in the world class category.

He is instrumental to Mikel Arteta in attack, with his pace and hunger and this season he has developed his finishing becoming more selfish and clinical in front of goal.

The main reason he is not first on this list is because, he's not a newcomer and the Young Player of the Season award should be given to a starlet whose proved themselves and made a difference.


1. cole palmer

Name a Premier League footballer right now with more swagger and confidence than Chelsea's talisman. The 22 year old has transitioned from a promising academy player with limited chances at Manchester City, to a contender for Player of the Year with Chelsea.

His rise has been meteoric and few ever saw him creating 32 goal contributions and challenging Erling Haaland for the golden boot at a mid-table struggling Chelsea side.

He makes a football game look easy like he's in his back garden, everything he does is so effortless and controlled and his skills have tormented defences all season.

In large parts of the season his presence and goals have carried Chelsea, and if they so qualify for the Europa League they have him to congratulate because he's been their star boy.

The biggest challenge will be consistency, proving to his doubters that it was not a one season fluke, but he has certainly awakened everybody's attention to the name Cole Palmer.

Written by Lewis Eadie

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