The new COVID-19 wave, injuries to starting players and a congested calendar have given Premier League teams the option to offer more playing time to young prodigies this season. Some of them have already established themselves into their teams’ starting line-ups, while others are ready to make the big leap in 2022.
These are three young Premier League stars to look out for in the next calendar year.
Cole Palmer – Manchester City
A boyhood Manchester City fan, Palmer made his official debut last season in a Carabao Cup game against Burnley and emerged on the scene in 2021/22, when he was given more playing under Pep Guardiola.
“[Palmer] is completely involved with the dynamic of how we play,” Guardiola said back in October.
“He extended his contract for the club, because we believe a lot in him. We know his attributes and what he can do.
“It’s not easy to play because of the players we have, but we have several games. Sooner or later, he has all the potential to play.
“He can play in five positions upfront, wingers, attacking midfielders, even striker. He has a sense of goal, he’s clinical there. We’re happy to have him, and he’s growing for two seasons with us. Every training session, he’s growing as a football player.”
In fact, Guardiola stressed after Ferran Torres‘ departure that the Sky Blues were not going to sign any replacement, as he is expected to give the 19-year-old forward more opportunities in the second half of the season.
Charlie Patino – Arsenal
Considered as one of the most talented players of the Arsenal academy, 18-year-old Patino netted in his first-team debut in the Carabao Cup against Sunderland, just a few minutes after coming off the bench.
Arsenal‘s scouts and academy directors have already labelled him as one of the finest talents to ever set foot on the team’s training ground, but coach Mikel Arteta is not willing to rush Patino into the first team.
“He is a kid that is coming through our system, a lovely kid,” Arteta said after the Sunderland duel.
“He is training with us almost every week. It was a dream as a debut to come here, to score in front of our fans, a really special moment.
“I think that is very positive [that the fans were singing his name]. They heard about him and know what he can become and now we have to cook him slowly. Today was a good start, I think.
“He is really young and he needs to go step by step. Today he was lucky, he got the opportunity and he took it really well.”
Joe Gelhardt – Leeds United
Injuries to starting forwards have forced Marcelo Bielsa to bet on youngsters on many occasions so far this season, with Leeds‘ bench mainly consisting of academy players in the last couple of months.
One of the youngsters who stands out is 19-year-old striker Joe Gelhardt, who debuted for Bielsa‘s side in a Carabao Cup duel with Fulham back in September.
Gelhardt has scored once in six Premier League games this season, but has made an impact in most of the duels where he was called to help off the bench, also registering a couple of assists.