As the wait for the return of Sport and the Premier League to our screens continues amid the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, there are outlying questions about the transfer window and when it could re-open, and how long for.
An impacted transfer window could force clubs to look at their academies and younger players at their disposal and hand opportunities to some of their most promising young talent, so with that in mind, we at Grosvenor Sport have put together the strongest possible Premier League starting XI using only players who are 21 or under. All transfer fees are sourced from transfermarkt.co.uk.
Goalkeeper: Aaron Ramsdale, 21, Bournemouth
Market Value: £11.25m
Ramsdale impressed enough during a loan spell with AFC Wimbledon last season to be promoted into the No.1 role between the sticks for Bournemouth for the 2019/20 campaign and has caught the eye despite the Cherries’ struggles. Capped seven times at U21 level for England, Ramsdale could be the next young stopper to force his way into the senior setup.
Right-Back: Trent Alexander-Arnold, 21, Liverpool
Market Value: £89.10m
Despite being only, Alexander-Arnold has already racked up 125 appearances for Liverpool and has really established himself as one of the world’s best full-backs over the last two seasons. His 12 assists last term was the most ever laid on by a defender in a single Premier League campaign, and he had already equalled that by the time the league was suspended.
Centre-Back: Japhet Tanganga, 21, Tottenham
Market Value: £6.48m
With Jan Vertonghen’s contract expiring at the end of the season and Toby Alderweireld on the wrong side of 30, Tanganga has been afforded an opportunity this season under Jose Mourinho to stake his claim for a regular role in the side. After making his senior debut against Liverpool in January, the 21-year-old has spent time at both fullback positions as well as at the heart of the defence in the 11 total appearances he’s made for Spurs, but with his contract up at the end of June, Spurs do risk losing him for nothing.
Centre-Back: Eric Garcia, 19, Manchester City
Market Value: £5.67m
Capped five times by Spain at U21 level, Garcia has seen an increased involvement in the first-team this season, making 11 appearances for City so far this season. The former Barcelona academy graduate is highly-rated at the Etihad and has been touted for a bigger role in the side from next season with the likes of Nicolas Otamendi and John Stones failing to live up to their hefty transfer fees.
Left-Back: Bukayo Saka, 18, Arsenal
Market Value: £18.00m
After making his first-team debut last season, Saka has seen his playing time dramatically increase this season after some impressive displays in the Europa League, with 29 appearances across all competitions in 2019/20, albeit just 12 starts in the Premier League, but he’s laid on nine assists and netted three times in the process. A versatile player, Saka can play any position on the left-hand side but given Arsenal’s options in attack, Saka has excelled in a fullback role and could see his long-term future at the position.
Defensive Midfield: Declan Rice, 21, West Ham
Market Value: £44.55m
Rice has been a mainstay in the West Ham midfield for the last three seasons and his last appearance saw him clock 100 for the club since making his debut on the final day of the 2016/17 season. The 21-year-old’s impressive displays in East London have seen him become a regular fixture in the England squad in the last 12 months, with seven caps already to his name.
Central Midfield: Matteo Guendouzi, 21, Arsenal
Market Value: £36.45m
Guendouzi was a relative unknown when he was brought to the Premier League nearly two years ago from Lorient in France for just £7.2m, but the Frenchman has earned his place at the Emirates, making 80 appearances for the Gunners over the last two seasons. Towards the end of 2019, Guendouzi had forced his way into a France international squad that boasts the likes of Paul Pogba, Corentin Tolisso, Blaise Matuidi, N’Golo Kante and Tanguy Ndombele as midfield options, to name a few, which is a testament to his quality.
Central Midfield: Phil Foden, 19, Manchester City
Market Value: £24.30m
It seems like we have been waiting years for Phil Foden to finally breakout as a Manchester City star. Touted as a the long-term replacement for the departing David Silva, Foden has made 62 total appearances for City, scoring 10 goals and recording 10 assists in the process, but his 14 Premier League apps this term have only accumulated three starts and just 354 minutes of football. Part of England’s star-studded U17 World Cup winning squad of 2017, Foden’s big chance in City’s first-team is likely to come next season.
Right-Wing: Reiss Nelson, 20, Arsenal
Market Value: £22.05m
Nelson has had a stop-start early career at Arsenal, with 32 appearances for the club to date but has struggled to nail down a regular spot in the side. Last season while on loan at Hoffenheim, Nelson scored seven times in 29 games and big things were expected for him upon his return, but he’s made just 16 appearances this season, with only five starts in the Premier League.
Left-Wing: Christian Pulisic, 21, Chelsea
Market Value: £48.60m
The most expensive player in this team in terms of transfer fees, Chelsea shelled out £57.6m to sign Pulisic from Dortmund in January 2019 before loaning him back to the Bundesliga club. Injuries have plagued the American’s debut season in England, but he’s still scored six goals and provided six assists in 23 appearances across all competitions. With Willian likely to leave in the summer, the platform is there for Pulisic to become a regular starter at Stamford Bridge.
Striker: Mason Greenwood, 18, Manchester United
Market Value: £26.10m
After making his debut last term, Greenwood has been fast-tracked into the United first-team this season, with 12 goals and four assists in 36 appearances across all competitions which includes just four Premier League starts. The teenager is a regular at England U21 level and should see a bigger role in the attack at Old Trafford alongside Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial next season.
Gabriel Martinelli, Striker, Arsenal; Callum Hudson-Odoi, Left-Wing, Chelsea; Mason Mount, Attacking Midfield, Chelsea; Dwight McNeil, Left-Wing, Burnley; Joe Willock, Central Midfield, Arsenal; Sander Berge, Defensive Midfield, Sheffield United; Morgan Gibbs-White, Central Midfield, Wolves; Brandon Williams, Left-Back, Manchester United; Reece James, Right-Back, Chelsea
What do you make of this team, and where do you think it would finish in the Premier League? Are there any players not mentioned who you think should be in the starting XI? Let us know in the comments below!