The Wonderkid Power Rankings: A new number one as Liverpool, Spurs and Brighton stars break top ten

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
There's a new name in top spot as we count down the ten best young players in the Premier League - including Chelsea, Spurs and Liverpool stars.

Welcome to our weekly Wonderkid Power Rankings, our attempt at ranking the ten best young players in the Premier League right now based on their form at the very top level.

Chelsea’s Cole Palmer has taken top spot for the last couple of weeks, but with the talented young attacking midfielder taking a week off thanks to the staggered winter break, can anyone knock him off top spot based on their performance over the past week? Let’s take a look…

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The break means that a few players who missed out last week make the top ten this time around, and also means that we say goodbye to Oscar Bobb, Alejandro Garnacho and Wilson Odobert, the three lowest-ranked players from last week who didn’t get any game time. They can make their cases for re-entry next time out. We also bid a fond farewell to the superb Joško Gvardiol on the day of his 22nd birthday. Unfortunately, instead of a present, we have to boot you out of the rankings permanently on the grounds that you’re now just too damned old…

10. James McAtee – Sheffield United (re-entry)

The Manchester City loanee wasn’t able to get among the goal contributions for a third consecutive game but was still a dangerous presence down the right flank in the dramatic 2-2 draw against West Ham United, getting three shots away and testing the opposing defence on a number of occasions with his runs.

Those tests were mostly passed fairly comfortably this time around, admittedly, but McAtee probably should have had an assist to his name thanks to his sumptuous through ball for debutant Ben Brereton Díaz – but the former Blackburn Rovers man slotted wide despite being put clean through on goal.

9. Rasmus Højlund – Manchester United (⬇️ 2)

Højlund clings grimly on to his spot in the top ten despite not getting a game this week, just reward for his clinical work in front of goal last weekend against Tottenham Hotspur. The young Dane made pretty light work of the minimal service he received on that occasion, and if he that match marked the start of a turning point then things might begin to look a little less bleak for United.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

8. Jack Hinshelwood – Brighton & Hove Albion (new entry)

The 18-year-old has been a surprise breakthrough player over the past few months and put in another very solid shift at right-back in Monday evening’s dreary 0-0 draw with Wolverhampton Wanderers.

There were no big, flashy, highlight reel contributions as there were when he scored a thunderous goal against Spurs, say, but he played with a calm intelligence and maturity that helped to prevent threatening attacks down the Wolves left and set a few attacks going with excellent passes into key areas. Another promising performance from the latest product of one of Britain’s most impressive academies.

7. Levi Colwill – Chelsea (⬇️ 1)

Like Højlund, Colwill is really just hanging onto a space in our top ten because few other youngsters played well enough to knock him out of contention while he took a well-earned week off. Not that his name was out of the headlines while he put his feet up – rumours have been swirling that Liverpool might try to sign him in the summer. You can read our thoughts on that one here, should you wish…

6. Pape Matar Sarr – Tottenham Hotspur (RE)

After benchwarming his way through Senegal’s opening Africa Cup of Nations game against The Gambia, Sarr was back in the starting line-up for the reigning champions’ comfortable 3-1 win over Cameroon and played very well indeed, picking up an assist in the process.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

There wasn’t anything especially elegant about his assist – it consisted of him beating his man to a loose, bouncing ball and improvising a header into the path of Ismaila Sarr, whose deflected shot opened the scoring, but it exemplified his work rate and willingness to put his body on the line, and his tidy, economical and rather more graceful work on the ball for the rest of the game went a long way to ensuring Senegal maintained control of the tie throughout.

5. James Trafford - Burnley (=)

Another member of the “didn’t play but still here” club, Trafford has been outstanding of late and while it may be a slight exaggeration to say that he’s single-handedly keeping Burnley in with a chance of retaining their Premier League status, he’s probably the biggest individual contributor to the fight right now. Knocking him out of the top five for taking a breather would have felt rather unfair.

4. Harvey Elliott - Liverpool (NE)

The 20-year-old midfielder has been in and out of Jürgen Klopp’s side this season but is slowly putting together a deeply impressive run of form and was excellent once again in the 4-0 thumping of Bournemouth.

Although he started his career as a marauding winger, his transformation into an energetic box-to-box man is going rather well and he chipped in all over the place on Sunday, with four tackles, four successful one-on-one duels and an 88% pass accuracy rate all telling the story of an efficient, hard-working performance for the league leaders. The only real shame of all this is that his more team-oriented performances aren’t generating the goals that he managed as a youngster, and as a result there are probably quite a few people who aren’t aware of just how well he’s playing – and what a superb all-round player he’s becoming.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

3. Destiny Udogie – Tottenham Hotspur (⬇️ 1)

Our number two last week, Udogie has been taking a bit of a breather this weekend but we didn’t feel that any members of the chasing pack had really done enough to displace him from the upper echelons of the power rankings. A cracking young player.

2. Cole Palmer – Chelsea (⬇️ 1)

Like Udogie, we didn’t feel right sending Palmer sliding too far from top spot, but equally this top ten is about form – and we can’t have a number one who didn’t even play a game, can we? So as brilliant as he’s been lately, and as much as he’s probably Chelsea’s single most important player right now, he loses first place for at least one week. Just don’t think it’s because we don’t rate him, because we think he’s a brilliant player. Really, we just miss watching him play…

1. Jarrad Branthwaite – Everton (⬆️ 2)

Last week’s number three, Branthwaite played perhaps the best game out of any of the wonderkids in action this week and deserves to be crowned the best young player in the Premier League, for the week at least. He’s been outstanding at the back for Everton all campaign, a proper rock at the back, and was at his very best once more for the 1-0 FA Cup win against Crystal Palace.

He was responsible for two clearances, two interceptions, two tackles and a blocked shot, won every one-on-one he faced, wasn’t dribbled past once all match and dominated in the air – a proper old-fashioned centre-half’s display in which he gave nothing away. Apart, admittedly, from the ball every now and again, because his passing wasn’t so great, but that’s largely because Sean Dyche had him hoofing the thing upfield on a repeat basis. Still, he was an absolute brick wall at the back and thoroughly deserved the clean sheet, and his place at the top of our rankings. Can he hang on when everyone is back in action next week? We’ll see…

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.