When players break out at a young age in football – whether they’re still teenagers or just entering their 20s – and they’ve done so in a huge way, that could very well pave the way for them to have a huge career years down the line, and therefore establish themselves among their league’s elite. For these 10 young Premier Leaguers, they’re doing exactly that, and that’s why we’ll be counting down the most valuable of the 20-and-under set on this list.
While there isn’t a Wayne Rooney-type player who’s broken onto the scene in a massive way at an age like 16, there’s still plenty of young talent to be found here, and – potentially to the delight of those who believe there isn’t enough English talent in the Premier League compared to its many foreign imports – half of the players on this list are indeed English. Not only that, but they’re all worth millions of dollars thanks to their transfer fees, in the case of several players on this list. These young footballers may not be old enough yet to drink in certain countries – we’re looking at you, America – but they’ve certainly not had to wait very long to live their dream, get their big footballing break and rake in tons of cash in the process.
How far these 10 men eventually get with their careers in the Premier League remains to be seen – for several of them, this is their first full season in the English top flight – but they’ve all got boatloads of potential, and plenty of time left for them to realize it and solidify their place as a mainstay with their current clubs. With that in mind, here are the 10 most valuable Premier League footballers under the age of 21, ranked in order of market value according to Transfermarkt and converted to American dollars.
10. Suso – Liverpool – Market Value: $8.5 million
His name is quite short, but Suso’s talent and potential are quite broad. Rated at a market value of $8.5 million, this 20-year-old right winger will unfortunately have to wait a little while before he can truly show his talents to the Liverpool faithful, as he’s currently out for the next two months with a groin injury. Should Brendan Rodgers give him the opportunities he’s looking for once he gets back, the Spaniard will be looking to impress big-time at Anfield, as he spurned both Barcelona and Real Madrid to sign with Liverpool as a 16-year-old in 2010.
9. John Stones – Everton – Market Value: $10 million
This Toffees youngster is an extremely promising defensive prospect, so much so that he just missed out on a place on England’s squad for their ill-fated World Cup campaign in Brazil this past summer. He has since gotten capped for the Three Lions on four occasions, having recently played in England’s victory against Switzerland in their opening qualifying match for Euro 2016. Stones currently boasts a market value of close to $10 million, and could very well be the answer to what some perceive as a dearth of quality in the centre back position for the English national team.
8. Adnan Januzaj – Manchester United – Market Value: $14 million
Ever since his debut match last season where he sensationally scored two goals against Sunderland, Belgian teenage phenom Adnan Januzaj has had hype following him around wherever he goes. What’s more is that, with Louis van Gaal’s recent high profile signings for Manchester United, it may be hard for him to work his way back into the starting XI on a regular basis. Having played for Belgium at this summer’s World Cup in Brazil, Januzaj undoubtedly has the talent and potential necessary to become a mainstay for the Red Devils, but there have been rumblings that the roughly $14 million-rated winger could go on loan in January.
7. Kurt Zouma – Chelsea – Market Value: $14 million
His middle name is Happy (no, really), and Chelsea supporters will certainly hope that will be what this young French centre back makes them in the years to come. Especially with the Blues needing someone to be the heir to John Terry’s throne in that position, the 19-year-old is a viable candidate. Known for his technique as well as his ability to be a leader, Zouma is rated around $14 million. While he has yet to play a Premier League match for Chelsea, he did score against Bolton Wanderers in Chelsea’s recent Capital One Cup victory, emphasizing how much promise he has.
6. Calum Chambers – Arsenal – Market Value: $17 million
If you’re only 19 years old and you’re already getting capped for your country’s national team, your career is off to one hell of a start. Calum Chambers is a player who fits that exact description, and his recent big-money move to Arsenal from Southampton – a hotbed for developing young, talented English players – goes to show how far ahead the $17 million-rated right back is in his career already. So far, he’s played in all six of Arsene Wenger’s side’s Premier League matches to start the season, and as a starter on four occasions filling in for the injured Mathieu Debuchy. He’s been praised for his versatility, as he can also play in the centre of defense.
5. Emre Can – Liverpool – Market Value: $17 million
Liverpool have built up a bit of a reputation lately for the host of exciting young players on their books, and summer signing Emre Can is definitely one of them. Having represented Germany at every youth level so far, Can is also eligible to play for the Turkish national team. So far, the 20-year-old defensive midfielder who has a market value of roughly $17 million has only made two substitute appearances for the Reds, and recently suffered an ankle injury that will likely keep him out of action for six weeks. That said, expect him to challenge for a more consistent place in Brendan Rodgers’ setup once he returns.
4. Ross Barkley – Everton – Market Value: $21 million
He’s one of the most promising youngsters English football has right now, and his talent in attacking midfield seems boundless. Although his World Cup performances for England this past summer showed that he’s still a bit raw, Ross Barkley is still one of Everton’s most important players, and his market value of about $21 million emphasizes his worth to the Toffees – especially since Barkley’s currently out with a knee ligament injury, and it’s unknown as of yet when he’ll be making his return to Goodison Park. He is, however, returning to training very soon, and Everton supporters hope he’ll be able to help turn the club’s so far disappointing Premier League fortunes around.
3. Lazar Markovic – Liverpool – Market Value: $28 million
His market value is rated at about $28 million, and Liverpool bought him for about $32 million. Not bad for this 20-year-old Serbian winger who put his extreme potential on display last season on many occasions for a Benfica side that ended up winning the Portuguese league at the end of the season. This time, Lazar Markovic will be hoping to repeat those performances at Anfield, although he’s only made four league appearances and hasn’t exactly been dazzling so far for Liverpool. He’s got quite the price tag to live up to, but Markovic will definitely be gunning to make the grade once he fully adjusts himself to the English game.
2. Raheem Sterling – Liverpool – Market Value: $28 million
Easily one of the few beacons of light from England’s tepid World Cup campaign this past summer, Raheem Sterling has been one of Liverpool’s best players to start the season so far, so much so that Real Madrid are reportedly knocking on his door for a potential move away from Anfield. The 19-year-old winger has three goals in five league appearances already for Liverpool, and is rated at a market value of about $28 million. The fact that he’s well and truly a regular for the Reds now is amazing given how young he is, but his sheer talent speaks for itself.
1. Luke Shaw – Manchester United – Market Value: $42 million
He may have received criticism for not knowing who Tony Adams was after Frank Lampard revealed that this 19-year-old Manchester United left-back was unfamiliar with the Arsenal legend, and it’s a bit strange that the first World Cup he ever watched was the 2010 edition in South Africa, but Luke Shaw has proven over the past couple of years that his potential and talent are far too much to ignore. Louis van Gaal knows this, and signed him from Southampton for close to $48 million this summer. With a market value of roughly $42 million to go with it, Shaw now has to prove he can live up to the hype and replace Patrice Evra’s role in Manchester United’s defense.