Liverpool is known for its famous academy, but Chelsea has one too. Did you know there are four main academies in London? Some of them can’t even be found on Google Maps!
The “denim nnamudi” is a young Liverpool player who has been compared to Chelsea academy prodigy, Eden Hazard.
As England’s biggest teams enter the competition, we’ll get a good look at the next generation of young stars set to break through. The FA Cup third round begins on Friday with Swindon Town hosting Manchester City — (stream all games LIVE on ESPN+ in the US) — and as England’s biggest teams enter the competition, we’ll get a good look at the next generation of young stars set to break through. In the past, the FA Cup has served as a springboard for great talent; here are the names to keep an eye on this weekend.
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Debut: Sept. 21, 2021, vs. Norwich City, Carabao Cup
Why they’re on the list: Liverpool have used the FA Cup in the past to give youngsters a shout. In the 2019-20 campaign, they faced Everton first up and used that as an opportunity to give Curtis Jones a chance to shine. Fast forward two years and he’s a bona-fide first-team player under Jurgen Klopp. With Shrewsbury travelling to Anfield on Sunday (9 a.m. ET, stream live on ESPN+ in the U.S.) and with Liverpool battling a lengthy list of absentees due to COVID-19, the Africa Cup of Nations and injury, they are likely to turn to youth once again for the visit of the League One side.
Morton, 19, has progressed this season, earning his Carabao Cup debut in September and starting two Champions League matches against FC Porto and AC Milan, as well as appearing in two Premier League games. The feisty center midfielder has already made an impression on Klopp and his colleagues.
“The first time Tyler arrived, I said, ‘Who is this player?’ since he was practicing really well with us and deserved to be on the squad,” Thiago Alcantara explained. “I believe he has a bright and promising future here at Liverpool, as well as in football in general.” — Hamilton, Tom
Kaide Gordon | 17 | Liverpool winger
Debut: Sept. 21, 2021, vs. Norwich City, Carabao Cup
Why they’re on the list: Liverpool fought off rival interest from Manchester United and Tottenham to sign then-16-year-old Gordon in a £1m deal from Championship side Derby County last summer. If the teenager progresses as hoped at Anfield, Derby will eventually receive up to £3m in performance-related add-ons as part of the deal. Gordon’s pace and trickery led to Derby manager Wayne Rooney rewarding him with a debut as a substitute against Birmingham City in December 2020, prompting Rooney to accept that big-club interest was inevitable.
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SUNDAY, JAN. 9 • Liverpool v Shrewsbury (9 a.m. ET) • Tottenham v Morecambe (9 a.m. ET) • West Ham v Leeds (9 a.m. ET) • Hertha Berlin v Cologne (9:30 a.m. ET) • Sevilla v Getafe (10:15 a.m. ET) • Bochum v Wolfsburg (11:30 a.m. ET) • Forest v Arsenal (12:10 p.m. ET) • Alaves v Athletic (12:30 p.m. ET) • Villarreal v Atletico (3 p.m. ET)
MONDAY, JAN. 10 • Man United v Aston Villa (2:55 p.m. ET)
Rooney remarked, “Kaide is a wonderful player with a lot of promise.” “Of course, Kaide will pique curiosity since he’s a superb player.”
Gordon has primarily been limited to practicing with the academy and Jurgen Klopp’s senior side since coming at Liverpool, although he did make his Carabao Cup debut against Norwich at Carrow Road, where he played the whole 90 minutes. Gordon is set to be included in the squad for Sunday’s match against Shrewsbury, with assistant manager Pep Lijnders describing the youngster as a serious goal threat.
“He’s what you see a lot with these kind of wingers — they can outplay, combine — but he’s got a goal in him,” Lijnders added. “And he has a natural talent to score by being in the box between the goalposts, even if the cross comes from the other side, for example. There aren’t many people with that kind of skill.” ‘Mark Ogden’
Debut: May 11, 2021, vs. Leicester City, Premier League
Why they’re on the list: The 19-year-old has only played a handful of times for Manchester United’s first team, but he’s impressed enough people at the club to be offered two contract extensions in the past nine months. After signing a new long-term deal in March 2021, he was rewarded with an improved contract on Christmas Eve that is set to keep him at Old Trafford until at least 2026, with the option of another year.
Elanga, a Sweden under-21 international, made his professional debut against Leicester at the conclusion of last season and scored his first senior goal in a 2-1 victory against Wolverhampton Wanderers on the penultimate day of the campaign, despite being named ahead of Anthony Martial.
After the arrival of Jadon Sancho in the summer, he appeared set for a loan transfer, but the Swede impressed so much during preseason that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer chose to retain him at United. Despite the struggle for spots, Elanga, whose father played international football for Cameroon, has appeared four times this season and will face Aston Villa in the FA Cup third round on Monday (2.55 p.m. ET, live on ESPN+ in the United States). Rob Dawson’s comment
Debut: Dec. 22, 2021, vs. Brentford, Carabao Cup
Why they’re on the list: Chelsea’s FA Cup third-round home game against National League leaders Chesterfield (Saturday, 12.30 p.m. ET, stream live on ESPN+ in the U.S.) is sandwiched in between the following run of games: Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur, then Tottenham again, Manchester City and Tottenham for a third time. The opportunity to rotate against a team in English football’s fifth tier could not be clearer. Vale is expected to be one youngster given a chance, not least because the club are in talks over extending his contract, which has 18 months left to run.
The challenge for talented academy graduates at Stamford Bridge prior to the emergence of Mason Mount, Reece James, Fikayo Tomori, and Tammy Abraham under Frank Lampard, Thomas Tuchel’s predecessor as head coach, was the absence of a visible road to the first team. Vale is one of the first in line, hoping to show that the Lampard period was not a fluke. The 18-year-old made his debut against Brentford as the left-sided No. 10 in a 3-4-2-1 formation after being included in two previous matchday squads under Tuchel. He created many brilliant moments before being substituted for the last 25 minutes. (He also came in as a late replacement in the Carabao Cup triumph over Tottenham on Wednesday.)
COVID-19 had a negative impact on Chelsea’s academy in the build-up to that game, causing it to close at one point, so the Chesterfield match provides a more stable opportunity for Vale to demonstrate his ability to push his way into the first-team picture. James Olley’s quote
Cole Palmer | Manchester City | Forward | 19 years old
Debut: Sept. 30, 2020, vs. Burnley, Carabao Cup
Why they’re on the list: Manchester City think so highly of Palmer that he was one of the reasons they let Ferran Torres join Barcelona in January. Both Pep Guardiola and director of football Txiki Begiristain believe the 19-year-old can fill the void left by Torres, who is considered to be one of the best young players in Europe.
Palmer has previously represented England at under-21 level and has two goals for City’s main squad in nine outings this season. He started the 3-0 victory against Everton in November, and he blended in well with Phil Foden and Raheem Sterling.
Palmer is so highly regarded at the Etihad Stadium that some academy coaches feel he might end up surpassing Foden’s record, who has already made 150 appearances at the age of 21. As long as he isn’t one of the players afflicted by a COVID-19 epidemic at City, he is expected to play against Swindon on Friday (3 p.m. ET, broadcast live on ESPN+ in the United States).
In October, Guardiola remarked, “Palmer is absolutely engaged with the dynamism of how we play.” “We trust in him so much that he renewed his contract with the club. We know what he’s like and what he’s capable of. Because of the guys we have, it’s not simple to play, but he has the ability to do so.” Rob Dawson’s comment
Debut: Dec. 21, 2021, vs. Sunderland, Carabao Cup
Why they’re on the list: The clips of Patino tearing up youth-team games have been circulating on social media long enough for the hype around this 18-year-old to have reached fever pitch before he kicked a ball for the first team. Imagine the reaction, then, when he marked his maiden appearance last month by becoming the youngest Arsenal player to score on debut for 59 years in a 10-minute cameo against Sunderland. It was only a simple finish, steering home Nicolas Pepe’s cross from close range, but an encouraging sign for a midfielder whose promising range of passing, quick feet and intelligent play has set minds racing at Arsenal over what he could achieve.
The Gunners will likely rotate for Sunday’s FA Cup third-round clash against Nottingham Forest (12.10 p.m. ET, watch live on ESPN+ in the United States), with Patino expected to play some part. Although it may still be too early for a start, a lengthy run for Arsenal in this tournament would provide him with additional opportunities. The absences of Thomas Partey and Mohamed Elneny, both on Africa Cup of Nations duty, as well as Ainsley Maitland-Niles’ impending loan move to AS Roma, are also in his favor. James Olley’s quote
Debut: Sept. 25, 2021, vs. West Ham, Premier League
Why they’re on the list: When you are just 19 years old, count only four appearances in the Premier League in your life and yet you are being followed by both Manchester United and Liverpool, you must be a pretty special talent. First and foremost, the Leeds centre-back comes from a huge football family. His dad, Richard, had a really good career in England and it is not surprising to see how mature the young defender is.
To compensate for a slew of injured players, Marcelo Bielsa started him against West Ham, and Cresswell shone. He was in command, physically intimidating (he is 6-foot-3) but also fast and comfortable on the ball, as he has been for more than a year with the Leeds reserves. He has it all, and he might make his FA Cup debut on Sunday against… West Ham (2 p.m. ET, live on ESPN+ in the United States). It would be a wonderful twist of fate if he made his FA Cup debut against them as well.
Leeds United are aware that they have a unique talent on their books and are fending off offers from big teams, but they may not be able to do so for much longer. Laurens, Julien
Archie Gray | 15 | Leeds United midfielder
Debut: No first-team appearance
Why they’re on the list: Gray is just 15 years old and still at school, but the youngster has already made it into Marcelo Bielsa’s matchday squad in the Premier League this season, earning a place on the substitutes’ bench during the 4-1 defeat against Arsenal at Elland Road last month. In terms of football pedigree, Gray comes straight from Leeds royalty, with his father (Andy), grandfather (Frank) and uncle (Eddie) all previously playing for the club. Andy, Frank and Eddie all represented Scotland at international level, but Archie has already played at U16 level for England.
Archie, an attacking midfielder, made his debut for Leeds U21 against Tranmere Rovers in the EFL Trophy in September and then traveled with the senior group to Tottenham in November before being called up to play as a substitute against Arsenal. Gray is a unique talent, according to Victor Orta, the sports director of Leeds United.
“Only a few times has that occurred,” Orta told La Media Inglesa. “Kun [Aguero] scored 10 or 12 goals in the South American under-20s championship, demonstrating that he was different. Angel Correa’s performance in the under-15s at San Lorenzo had an impression on me. ‘Who’s this guy?’ I asked when I spotted Douglas Costa at a Copinha Sao Paolo when he was 15 years old. It’s only occurred a few times, but Archie does give me the same vibe. Archie’s performance against Tranmere Rovers the previous day gave me that sensation.” ‘Mark Ogden’
Debut: May 19, 2021, vs. Tottenham, Premier League
Why they’re on the list: At 18, Chukwuemeka is one of the most promising talents of his age group in England. The midfielder is still the youngest player to have featured in the Premier League so far this season, demonstrating all his talent just three weeks ago when he came on late against Norwich and set up Villa’s second goal of the game that day.
He possesses the characteristics of the ideal all-around midfielder: tall, powerful, muscular, and superb on the ball, and his ambitions at Villa and England (he led the U19s against Italy in September) are high. While previous manager Dean Smith handed him his Premier League debut in the last two games of last season’s campaign, Steven Gerrard has been pleased with the Austrian-born midfielder since taking over, utilizing him in four of his eight games in charge.
Chukwuemeka is expected to play against Manchester United in the FA Cup third-round encounter at Old Trafford on Monday (2.55 p.m. ET, stream live on ESPN+ in the United States), and with a contract ending in June 2023, a number of major teams will be watching his progress in the coming weeks. Laurens, Julien
Brennan Johnson | Nottingham Forest | Forward | 20 years old
Debut: Aug. 3, 2019, vs. West Brom, Championship
Why they’re on the list: The versatile forward is on the shopping list for several Premier League clubs. He’s been linked with Arsenal, Tottenham, West Ham United, Everton and Newcastle United to name a few, but it’s Brentford who are leading the charge for the 20-year-old. He can play off both the right and left wing, and through the middle, and has flourished under coach Steve Cooper’s guidance at Nottingham Forest. With his contract up in June 2023, Forest could look to cash in on their prize asset this January, but he’s integral to the team.
When he lines up against Arsenal on Sunday, the Wales international has five goals and four assists this season and will try to give them all kinds of problems. The encounter will provide the Gunners a first-hand look at the teenage striker, but with the January transfer market still open, other Premier League clubs will be keeping a careful watch on him. Cooper claimed at the start of the year that Johnson was “beginning to control games” and “truly coming of age,” but despite the attention, Brennan’s father, ex-Forest striker David Johnson, is convinced that the forward would not be moving in January. — Hamilton, Tom
Millwall’s Zak Lovelace is a 15-year-old striker.
Debut: Dec. 29, 2021, vs. Coventry City, Championship
Why they’re on the list: Lovelace doesn’t celebrate his 16th birthday until Jan. 23, but the Millwall striker is already regarded as one of the most exciting talents outside the Premier League, with Chelsea paying close attention to the youngster who still attends Kingsdale Foundation School in South London. When he was selected to travel with the first team for the Championship game at Coventry last month, Millwall had to seek permission from Lovelace’s parents and school to enable him to make the trip.
He’ll be in the squad against Crystal Palace on Saturday (7.45 a.m. ET, ESPN+ in the US), after a productive season with Millwall’s development team, when he scored 21 goals in 19 games at the U16, U18, and U23 levels. Gary Rowett, the first-team manager, feels Lovelace has a bright future in the game.
“At 15, he’s perhaps the most gifted player I’ve ever seen,” Rowett remarked. “He’s been rising up to the U18s, and in one game, he scored a hat trick. He couldn’t be dealt with by players three years his senior. He recently practiced with us and sprinted by one of our older players as if they didn’t exist. You witnessed a young kid who was courageous and had none of the baggage that a veteran player may have. ‘Blimey, this kid’s got something about him,’ some of the other players have commented.” ‘Mark Ogden’
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