Monday, March 26, 2012

The most sought after young players outside the English Premier League

With the current football season about to reach its climax, many Premier League clubs will already be planning ahead and looking over the cream of the crop in England's other three divisions, in preparation for next season. While lower league clubs try their best to hold onto their talented youngsters, and with commonly heard phrases bounded about such as "they should stay and learn their trade here first," it is somewhat inevitable that the lure of the bright lights of the Premier League will be too much for some young players to resist!

Here is a selection of the best young players outside the top flight that I think will be on the radar of many Premier League clubs this summer.

Jordan Rhodes - Huddersfield Town, date of birth: 05/02/90.

Jordan Rhodes (right) has been renowned for his goal scoring prowess for some time now. The Scottish international striker has scored 33 league goals so far this season (after netting 39 times last season) for The Terriers, who pulled off a minor miracle by keeping him at the League One club this January. Even if Huddersfield are promoted to the Championship this season, it is likely that Rhodes will seek pastures new in the summer.
Rating: 7/10 Rhodes will be at a new club come next season.

Nathaniel Clyne - Crystal Palace, date of birth: 05/04/91.

The Palace defender is just one of several top class youngsters blooded by the South London club in recent seasons. Although still only 20 years old the England under-21 full-back has made well over 100 first-team appearances for The Eagles. He is out of contract at the end of the season and it is reported the likes of both Manchester clubs are interested in securing his services. Rating: 8/10 Clyne will be at a new club come next season.

Matt Richie - Swindon Town, Date of Birth: 10/09/89.

Richie, the recently crowned League Two Player of the Year for 2012 is the heartbeat of a Swindon team that are currently top of their division, and looking almost certain to be plying their trade in League One next season. The goal scoring midfielder began his career at Portsmouth, and following a couple of loan spells finally settled at the Wiltshire club. He has since flourished under the stewardship of manager Paolo Di Canio. The Premier League may be a step to far for him next season, but Richie is most definitely Championship quality.
Rating: 6/10 Richie will be at a new club come next season.

Nathan Redmond - Birmingham City, date of birth: 06/03/94.

The Blues have unearthed a gem in attacking midfielder Nathan Redmond (right), who operates mostly on the flanks. A graduate of the Birmingham academy Redmond has has received unprecedented attention following a run in Chris Hughton's first team this campaign. The youngster has represented England at under-16/17/18 and 19 level. With Europa League experience under his belt too this term, Redmond will prove an appealing acquisition to likely Premier League suitors at the end of the season, especially should Birmingham fail to gain promotion back to the top flight.
Rating: 3/10 Redmond will be at a new club come next season.

Matt Phillips - Blackpool, date of birth: 13/03/91.

Winger Phillips was lucky enough to sample Premier League football last season during the Tangerines brief spell in the top tier. He may want to get back there sooner rather than later following a scintillating run of form for Ian Holloway’s men in the Championship. Phillips began his career at Wycombe and a month after his seventeenth birthday, he made his first team debut. He signed for Blackpool on 31st August 2010 and has represented England at both under-19 and under-20 level. Much like Rhodes, Richie and Redmond, the future of Phillips may depend on his team gaining promotion this season. Rating:
Rating 4/10 Phillips will be at a new club come next season.

Luke Shaw - Southampton, date of birth: 12/07/95.

Despite having made only one substitute appearance for the Saints first team, the England Under-17 full-back has been attracting plenty of attention. Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City are all reported to have watched him play. Shaw (right) has represented England at both under-16 and under-17 level and is developing nicely at Southampton's fabled academy. With Shaw being so young and inexperienced, and with the Saints almost certain to be promoted to the Premier League this season I would expect him to stay put at St.Mary's for at least another season.
Rating: 2/10 Shaw will be at a new club come next season.

Jay Rodriguez - Burnley, date of birth: 29/07/89.

The Burnley striker has been on fire this season even if his team have not! He has bagged 21 goals for The Clarets, second only to Southampton hit-man Rickie Lambert. He was also Burnley's top scorer last season. The striker has made over 100 appearances for his home town team, and averages nearly a goal every three games. With Burnley likely to finish mid-table this season, Rodriguez is likely to fancy a crack with a Premier League side next season, should the opportunity arise.
Rating: 8/10 Rodriguez will be at a new club come next season.

Wilfred Zaha - Crystal Palace, date of birth: 11/10/92.

Wilfred Zaha is one of the most talented and exciting young players in the country. Last season in his first full season with Crystal Palace, Zaha made 44 appearances in all competitions and was named 2011 Crystal Palace Young Player of the Year. His rapid rise in the world of football culminated in him winning his first cap at England under-21 level this season and being named 2012 Football League Young Player of the Year. Although he recently signed a new five-year deal with The Eagles, the fleet footed winger has caught the eye of several high profile clubs. A big offer would be needed to lure the youngster away from Selhurst Park, and although Palace are no longer considered a 'selling club' every player has their price!
Rating: 5/10 Zaha will be at a new club come next season.

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