In recent times, the premier league has had an enormous influx of young talent. A lot of them have risen through the ranks of team academies and have finally begun to nail down a starting role in a lot of sides. So today, we are going to build our own Gameday FC squad... FIFA 22 career mode style. Filled with some players that I think will be premier league linchpins for well over the next decade. As always with these sorts of posts, there are rules. As you can tell by the title, the obvious rule is that they must be at the age of 21 or under, they also must have at least one premier league cap under their belt. I will be taking into account previous club performances if that is available to assess. It's also important to note that the formation I've decided to build this squad around is the very vanilla, yet ever reliable 4-4-2 formation. Now, let's get cracking!
Ferran Torres (Manchester City)
Starting up the top we're going to have Manchester City's newest Spanish dynamo Ferran Torres. He even inherited David Silva's fabled number 21, those are gargantuan shoes to fill! His tenure at City so far has been more than positive, as he's proven to Pep that he is a valuable asset to the starting team. Last season he totalled 13 goals and 3 assists in 36 appearances for City and has started this season in the same form with 7 goals and 1 assist in 7 games. He's also been in red hot form for the Spanish national team netting 12 times in just 22 caps. Ferran > Fernando? That will ruffle some feathers.
Mason Greenwood (Manchester United)
Torres' strike partner will be the man with the rifle left or right boot? no one really knows, he's that good on both. Anyway, it's Mason Greenwood. He's been hailed as Manchester United's golden boy for some time now. With back to back 31 appearance seasons in the premier league and 115 total games notched up, we can see why he was so highly touted coming out of United academy. Mason broke through into United's starting squad in the 2019/20 season finishing with 19 goals and 4 assists in 51 games and has since gone on to pile up 33 goals and 10 assists. On top of all the numbers, he was just nominated for the 2021 Kopa Trophy which is organised by France Football who also arrange the Ballon D'Or prize and is awarded to the best performing under-21 player. There are no signs of slowing down for Mason as he now looks to rise up the league's elite list of prolific strikers.
Bukayo Saka (Arsenal FC)
The first man listed out wide is Bukayo Saka. Unfortunately, a lot of us remember him for being one-third of the penalty missing trio in the Euro's but it would be unfair to judge him based on a pen. The guy was named the 2020/21 Arsenal player of the season at the age of 20! Like c'mon. Any fan of the premier league will be well aware of how unwatchable Arsenal can be, but the newly formed trio of Saka, Martin Odegaard and Emile Smith-Rowe has been somewhat of a resurrection for the gunners. When all three are on the pitch it's a completely different Arsenal side. Back to Bukayo, like Greenwood above - he was just recently nominated for the 2021 Kopa Trophy, which is awarded for Europes best under 21 player. Saka will continue to cement himself as one of England and the premier leagues premier attackers.
Phil Foden (Manchester City)
Starboy! Every Manchester City fan's adopted son Phil Foden will be bossing our midfield. He's already played 130 times for City, making his debut way back in 2017 when he was just 17 years old. In that time he's directly set up 22 goals and bagged 33 goals for himself. Foden has also reached 11 England national team caps as well, scoring on 2 occasions. You don't just have to listen to me preach my love for Foden though. How about Pep Guardiola Speaking ahead of the 2019/2020 season, Pep Guardiola infamously claimed,
"He (Phil Foden) is the most talented player I have ever seen."
When asked by Rio Ferdinand what he meant by this, considering the fact he has trained the likes of Lionel Messi, Guardiola responded,
"Well, the best is Messi, first." "Second, I didn't meet Leo Messi at 17 years old when I met Phil (Foden), and that age, I've never seen a player with this potential"
Conor Gallagher (Chelsea FC/ Crystal Palace)
Maybe you aren't too familiar with Conor Gallagher who has been with Chelsea FC since the age of 8 but has had loan spells at Charlton Athletic, Swansea City, West Bromich Albion and now at Crystal Palace. In his time playing senior football, he's been utilised as a deep-lying playmaker, box to box mid, and even a false 9. A lot of his plaudits have come through only this season with his introduction into Premier League football where not just Palace fans but fans of the Premier League, in general, have been awed by his technical ability and general toughness. It's also worth noting that Gallagher has been one of the first rumoured players to be scouted by the newly cash ridden Premier League side Newcastle United FC. Good thing they have the money now, I can't see Gallagher leaving for cheap.
Jadon Sancho (Manchester United)
It has definitely not been all sunshine and rainbows for Sancho at Manchester United so far, though it is only early days! His form for United aside, you simply cannot ignore what he was able to achieve at Dortmund. In his four-season tenure for Dortmund Sancho netted 50 times and assisted 67 times... sixty-seven. To put that in perspective, in the same time frame, that's only 6 assists less than Kevin De Bruyne who is widely regarded as the best playmaker in the world. There's no doubt in my mind that he will turn things around at United, he's far too talented not to.
Reece James (Chelsea FC)
Another Chelsea FC starlet who rose to fame while out on loan. James was loaned out to Wigan Athletic for the 2018/19 season, where after the season he walked away with 3 team awards, one being the player of the season award. He has already been rewarded with 8 England national team caps. This is impressive because the right-back position for England might be the most hotly contested position of them all. Manager Southgate has the likes of Kieren Trippier, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Kyle Walker and Aaron Wan-Bissaka to choose from! James will be Chelsea and one of Englands right-backs for well over the next decade, he's that good.
Marc Guehi (Crystal Palace)
One more Chelsea FC young gun who was loaned out, but this time he was sold afterwards! In fairness though, it was for £18 million (AUD $33million) and Chelsea made sure to add the rights to match any offers for Guehi in the future. This purchase ranked third in the highest transfer fee paid for any player for Crystal Palace. Ranking only behind Christian Benteke and Mamadou Sakho, so they obviously rate him very highly! He has performed to the level that Palace had expected as well, Guehi has been such a rock, a big reason for Palace performing well above expectations so far this season. So much so that he was presented as England under 21's team captain. He'll get Palace's captains armband in the not so distant future as well.
Wesley Fofana (Leicester City FC)
Leicester City FC paid £36.5 million (AUD $67.9million) for him! Almost 40 million pounds for a 19-year-old centre-back is insane. Unless it's Wesley Fofana and he performs really, really well every time he graces a pitch with his presence. He has unfortunately suffered a leg injury in the early stages of the pre-season but last season Fofana played so well he received Leicester's best young player awarded by the club's fans. I strongly believe it's only a matter of time before Didier Deschamps gives this man a call to lock him into the French senior national side. He's so good I think he could do a great job right now.
Nuno Tavares (Arsenal FC)
Tavares might only have 4 Premier League caps on his resume but he is by far and away the most talented of the current crop we have at left-back at the moment. He's only had 6 appearances for Mikel Arteta and Arsenal so far but what we saw at Benfica and what we are currently seeing in the youth Portuguese national teams has been electric. Tavares recorded 7 assists from left-back last year for Benfica and just this week netted a goal with 2 assists to g with it for the Portugal under-21's side against Liechtenstein. There's no doubt that Keiren Tierney is still the number one left-back option for Arsenal right now, but with Taveres being deployed as a right-back, left-midfielder and even as a holding midfielder, there is a path for Tavares to shine for the Gunners.
Illan Meslier (Leeds FC)
Fun fact, Illan Meslier is the only goalkeeper that is 21 or under and has a premier league cap under his belt. He was going to be here anyway though, let's be honest. The Leeds United shot-stopper has played 54 times for the club and was the first goalkeeper under the age of 21 to record 8 clean sheets in a single Premier League season back in February 2021. He also won the Leeds young player of the year award for his 2020/21 season efforts. He has also played for the French national side at every youth level, I think it's only a matter of time before he knocks the door of the senior side down.
Bench: Nathan Collins (Burnley FC), Max Aarons (Norwich City), Luke Thomas (Leicester City FC), Oliver Skipp (Tottenham Hotspur), Billy Gilmour (Chelsea FC/Norwich City), Curtis Jones (Liverpool FC), Emile Smith-Rowe (Arsenal FC), Harvey Elliott (Liverpool FC), Pedro Neto (Wolverhampton Wolves).
GameDay Squad is an NFT fantasy sports platform that is being released for the 2022 AFL and NRL season. Subscribe below to keep up to date with all things GameDay Squad and NFTs in sport.