Home » Premier League: James Trafford and Kobbie Mainoo among five 2023-24 breakthrough prospects

Premier League: James Trafford and Kobbie Mainoo among five 2023-24 breakthrough prospects

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Premier League: James Trafford and Kobbie Mainoo among five 2023-24 breakthrough prospects

Rico Lewis emerged from the Manchester City academy to make 23 senior appearances during the 2022-23 Treble-winning season

The start of the month brings into focus the return of the Premier League, which begins on 11 August.

But who will be looking to make their mark in the English top flight? Which new faces could be the next Evan Ferguson or Rico Lewis?

BBC Sport profiles five youngsters looking to break through in the 2023-24 season. The players we have selected will be aged 21 or under when the first ball of the new campaign is kicked.

James Trafford

Club: BurnleyAge: 20Position: Goalkeeper

Burnley’s James Trafford could well be a future England number one.

The 20-year-old goalkeeper starred for the Young Lions as they won the European Under-21 Championship this summer and the Clarets have brought him to Turf Moor from Manchester City in what could prove to be a club record deal worth £19m.

An incredible shot stopper, Trafford kept a record six clean sheets in the Euros triumph and brilliantly saved a late penalty before keeping out the rebound in the final win over Spain.

Trafford is expected to compete for a regular slot with Arijanet Muric, who was a mainstay in goal for the Clarets as they won the Championship title at a canter last season.

Kobbie Mainoo

Kobbie Mainoo made three senior appearances for Manchester United last seasonClub: Manchester UnitedAge: 18Position: Midfielder

Kobbie Mainoo is the teenager causing a stir among Manchester United fans after a promising pre-season, in which he started four games.

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The technically gifted academy graduate is a holding midfielder, who can be utilised in other roles, with a calmness and poise in possession which belies his years.

The 18-year-old came off the bench in last season’s win over Leicester to make his Premier League debut in February, and manager Erik ten Hag looks set to keep the teenager at Old Trafford this season rather than send him out on loan.

Mainoo will miss the start of the campaign after suffering an ankle injury against Real Madrid in pre-season, but expect him to challenge for a spot in the United side when he returns to fitness.

Cameron Archer

Cameron Archer impressed on loan for Middlesbrough in the Championship last seasonClub: Aston VillaAge: 21Position: Forward

Aston Villa forward Cameron Archer has what it takes to trouble top-tier defenders.

Blistering speed, close ball control and an eye for goal – Archer was influential on loan in Middlesbrough’s run to the Championship play-offs last season, scoring 11 goals in 20 games.

Ollie Watkins is likely to lead the line again after excelling for Unai Emery’s side last term, but Archer could be deployed alongside the more experienced 27-year-old or as a deputy from the bench if it is decided he will remain at Villa Park.

He scored the opening goal of England’s winning campaign at the Under-21 Euros this summer and will be looking to add to his previous eight appearances in the top flight, which all came as a substitute after the 80-minute mark.

James McAtee

James McAtee has returned to Manchester City after helping Sheffield United bounce back to the Premier League last seasonClub: Manchester CityAge: 20Position: Midfielder

Breaking into a side that became only the second in English history to win the Treble last season will be no easy task, but that will be the target for James McAtee.

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The Salford-born midfielder is a creative force with a goal threat. A product of the Manchester City youth set-up, McAtee scored in last month’s win over Bayern Munich during an impressive pre-season.

He played an influential role and scored nine goals in 37 loan appearances, including 21 starts, as Sheffield United secured automatic promotion back to the Premier League in 2022-23.

City are not short of world-class midfielders such as Kevin De Bruyne, Bernardo Silva and Phil Foden, but McAtee will be eager to emulate fellow academy graduate Rico Lewis, who stepped up to the first team with aplomb last season after being promoted by Pep Guardiola.

Simon Adingra

Simon Adingra has one senior international cap for the Ivory CoastCub: BrightonAge: 21Position: Winger

Brighton have a successful record of unearthing young talent as academy graduate Evan Ferguson, 18, and summer signing Julio Enciso, 19, both broke into the first team last season.

Ivorian winger Simon Adingra could be the latest to emerge, having demonstrated he is a composed marksman with the pace to stretch defences.

He scored 10 league goals in 30 appearances on loan at Belgian side Union SG last season, following his move to Brighton from Danish club Nordsjaelland for around £6m in June 2022.

The 21-year-old has yet to make his competitive debut for the Seagulls, but he demonstrated prowess with both goals in Brighton’s recent pre-season win over Brentford.

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