Ten Premier League-owned talents competing for Golden Boy crown
The Premier League can proudly boast 10 top talents nominated to be Golden Boy 2014, an award that celebrates Europe’s most exciting young players.
Starlets owned by clubs in Britain’s top-tier dominated the shortlist, whilst the Bundesliga ranked second with six promising youngsters up for the prestigious prize. La Liga, usually a hotbed of brilliant prodigies has just five nominees, the same number as Serie A.
Juventus midfield Paul Pogba was crowned head boy in 2013, for his rare mix of power and skill, and the award has previously highlighted the potential of current superstars Sergio Aguero, Cesc Fabregas and Lionel Messi.
Here, Coral writers run the rule over the Premier League hopefuls.
Calum Chambers (Arsenal)
Versatile Chambers has proven an inspired signing for Arsenal (25/1 to lift the Premier League), with the 19-year-old able to plug gaps at right back, centre half and defensive midfield. Positionally savvy for his age and a credible attacking threat down the flank, the Southampton academy product still has errors to cut out of his game, but was key in the Saints’ strong finish last term.
Nabil Bentaleb (Tottenham)
Another dark horse, Bentaleb broke onto the scene last season, as former youth coach Tim Sherwood promoted him in his brief stint as Spurs boss. The Algeria midfielder took to the first XI like a duck to water, but his achievements will likely not have been considered spectacular enough to win the top gong.
Eric Dier (Tottenham)
Somewhat of a surprise entrant, Dier’s form for Sporting Lisbon earned him a summer switch to Spurs. Although English, the young defender’s continental education shines through in his technique and sharp finishing in the final third. Dier has settled in well at White Hart Lane, but is an outsider to lift the prize.
Adnan Januzaj (Manchester United)
Januzaj was handed the famed number 11 shirt for his thrilling performances under David Moyes last term, with highlights including a brilliant brace to save United against Sunderland. The Brussels-born, tricky attacker capped off a tremendous debut season with an appearance for Belgium at the World Cup. However, his limited impact so far under Louis van Gaal may count against him.
Lazar Markovic (Liverpool)
He may have had a slow start to life at Liverpool (5/4 for a top four finish), but Markovic wins his nomination for his inspirational outings and trophy haul with Benfica. The Serbian attacker was crucial as the Portuguese giants lifted a domestic treble and reached a Europa League final, with Markovic named in the 2013/14 squad of the season for that competition.
Divock Origi (Liverpool)
Currently on-loan at Lille, Liverpool-owned striker Origi made waves at the World Cup, becoming Belgium’s youngest ever scorer in the competiton. His impact on the big stage brought him a lucrative move to Anfield but, whilst he has all the attributes to become a fearsome forward, fleet-footed Origi still needs to find the net more regularly.
Luke Shaw (Manchester United)
Incredibly mature for his age, Shaw was one of Southampton’s most consistent players last campaign. Equipped with natural defensive nous and a wicked cross, the highly-rated full back has endured a baptism of fire since his move to Old Trafford, but is still tipped to become one of the best in his position.
Raheem Sterling (Liverpool)
Sterling is the Premier League’s best hope of housing the chosen Golden Boy. The adaptable attacker was key in the Reds’ title challenge last season and has also been their leading man this term. Energetic, creative and a goal threat, Sterling’s trickery has bamboozled many a defender, and also seen him become England’s brightest star.
John Stones (Everton)
Anointed the Three Lions’ next great centre back, Stones has impressed with his composure and ability to read the game, becoming a regular for Everton (11/8 for a top six finish) aged just 20. An unlikely winner, but the reliable Barnsley-born star has performed admirably whether deployed at right back or the heart of defence.
Kurt Zouma (Chelsea)
Physically imposing and blessed with pace and strength, Zouma is the man tipped to replace John Terry in the Blues’ backline. The Frenchman is also a threat in the opposition box, and his impressive outings for both Chelsea and St-Etienne should have Terry, Gary Cahill and co looking over their shoulder.