The Wonderkid Power Rankings: Chelsea and Man Utd young guns battle for top spot

Who is the best young player in the Premier League? Højlund, Palmer and Branthwaite are among the stars in our top ten.
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Welcome to 3 Added Minutes’ weekly Wonderkid Power Rankings, our countdown of the ten most in-form young players in the Premier League. Last week’s number one Rasmus Højlund has managed to extend his scoring streak for Manchester United, but has he done enough to keep top spot?

We’re compiling this week’s list after the Monday night match between Everton and Crystal Palace but before the remaining midweek games, so any big performances from the brightest under-21s in the top flight from those matches will be counted in next week’s rankings.

Two players drop out of the top ten this week, with Burnley’s James Trafford enduring a bit of a nightmare against Arsenal as the Clarets conceded five in a one-sided thrashing, while Harvey Elliott drops out again after he was restricted to a 15-minute cameo against Brentford – but that leaves room for two returning starlets to force their way back into the reckoning. Let’s see where they all place…

10. Levi Colwill – Chelsea (re-entry)

The 20-year-old England international defender hasn’t been at his very best of late but stepped back up when he was needed most in the 1-1 draw against Manchester City – and he passed pretty much every test that was thrown at him as the home side laid siege to Chelsea in the second half.

Colwill was unflappable as Pep Guardiola’s side probed away time and again, losing possession just five times across the entire match, which is an exceptionally low number. He didn’t get beaten once on the ground, made two tackles and two interceptions and was tidy with the ball with a 90% pass completion rate. He did lose all of his aerial battles, and can perhaps be grateful that Erling Haaland was off the boil, but this was still a rock solid and deeply mature performance in a tough game.

9. Destiny Udogie – Tottenham Hotspur (⬇️ 4)

The Italian full-back missed the disappointing 2-1 defeat to Wolverhampton Wanderers with a minor injury, but our policy is not to drop players in the top five out of the rankings entirely due to a single game on the sidelines, so Udogie stays in the top ten for now. Should he fail to make the squad this weekend, he may be forced to take a break from top ten action.

8. Kobbie Mainoo - Manchester United (⬇️ 2)

The 18-year-old’s performances in midfield have caused a bit of a clamour for him to be called up to the England squad, but will his outing against Luton Town gave his supporters plenty of reasons to cheer, it did also offer Gareth Southgate some cause to wait a little longer before handing him a cap.

While Mainoo was excellent on the ball, with six successful dribbles and some lovely, crisp passing, he did struggle out of possession against a dogged Luton midfield – he was dribbled past four times, won just six out of 15 one-on-one duels and failed to register a successful tackle, and a lot of Luton’s best passages of play came through the middle as Mainoo found it tough to keep up. Nothing we’ve seen so far suggests that those difficulties were more than a blip, but there is, inevitably, some evidence that he still has plenty to learn.

7. Pape Matar Sarr – Tottenham Hotspur (⬇️ 3)

The Spurs midfielder was as economical as ever against Wolves and his passing was as reliable and accurate as ever, but outside of keeping things ticking over neatly this wasn’t his best performance.

He didn’t offer much spark going forward and had very little creative output across the game as Spurs struggled to make attacking inroads, and he didn’t make a successful tackle as he failed to help his side blunt attacks through the middle of the park. Not a disastrous showing, by any means, but a slight downturn from one of Spurs’ most consistent performers across the campaign. In fairness to Sarr, that’s a sentence that could be said of almost all of their players this weekend.

6. Conor Bradley – Liverpool (RE)

Back in the starting line-up after missing last week’s game as he grieved the sad passing of his father, Bradley didn’t sparkle the same way he did in the 4-1 win over Chelsea – but that would be an unreasonably high standard to hold any player to. Against Brentford he was efficient, solid and while he didn’t carve the opposition up as he’s shown he can, he still looked every inch like a Premier League player.

He was good in defence and impressive moving forward again, always offering a passing option down the flank and using the ball well, although he wasn’t able to create chances in the kind of quantities that he did in his last top flight outing. He was also dangerous when he cut inside again, too, getting a couple of shots off from central areas as his movement made tracking his runs a real headache for a beleaguered Brentford back line. A game which suggested that his outstanding recent performances were no flash in the pan.

5. Malo Gusto – Chelsea (⬆️ 3)

Another Chelsea defender who stood strong in the face of the City onslaught, Gusto was one of the main reasons that it turned out to be so ineffective. He made an exceptional eight tackles to stymie attacks, and won nine one-on-ones, helping to keep Jérémy Doku quiet all afternoon in one of his best Chelsea performances.

And he offered plenty going forward, too, creating two very presentable chances and constantly offering a good option down the right flank. A complete game from the 20-year-old, whose recent form has ensured that Reece James really hasn’t been missed all that much.

4. Cole Palmer – Chelsea (⬇️ 2)

Palmer couldn’t really get as involved as he would have liked against his former club, and only touched the ball 30 times before being substituted in the second half. Not the big homecoming game he would have envisioned, but he still did pretty well with what little time he had in possession.

He only mislaid one of his 20 passes and kept things moving well in the build-up to attacks, and was strong off the ball too, with two tackles and two intercepted passes to his name. For once, he wasn’t the creative focus of the team, but he still did the work he needed to for the team even when he wasn’t putting his own name up in lights.

3. Alejandro Garnacho – Manchester United (⬆️ 4)

There are still reasonable question marks over the young Argentine’s decision-making, and his idolisation of Cristiano Ronaldo does seem to have inculcated a certain selfish streak in his play, but that doesn’t change the fact that he’s growing in confidence and impact as the season wears on.

He got no fewer than eight shots away in the 2-1 win at Kenilworth Road, which is both a testament to his ability to get into dangerous areas and his habit of taking the chance for himself when a pass might be better, given that he didn’t score with any of them. Still, one of them did wind up as an assist, given that it flicked in off of Højlund’s chest, and his passing was excellent all day with five key passes in the mix. A hugely dangerous player on superb form, even if he doesn’t always take the best option.

2. Jarrad Branthwaite – Everton (⬆️ 1)

The rangy Everton defender has topped the rankings a couple of times this season and was rock solid once more in the 1-1 draw against Crystal Palace. Indomitable in the air and assured on the ground, he contributed two tackles, four interceptions and a blocked shot to the cause and proved to be a pretty much impassable object once more.

He was also much improved in an area which has been his weakness so far – his use of the ball. Branthwaite regularly dips below 60% pass completion rate, but against Palace he got it up to 89% as he replaced hopeful long balls forward with measured short passes which helped Everton to keep the ball more efficiently. Composure on the ball has been the only issue with his game this season, and if he keeps that up then he’ll look like a much better all-round player.

1. Rasmus Højlund - Manchester United (-)

No change at the top this week as Højlund scored for the sixth Premier League game on the bounce, bagging a decisive brace against Luton. The young Dane did have luck on his side this time around – he was gifted his first when Amari’i Bell passed the ball straight to him in the first minute of the match and his second was more of a fortunate deflection than a finish, but it still takes a good player to get ‘lucky’ as often as Højlund is right now.

He showed plenty of composure for that first goal, slotting home when played clean through by mistake, and his all-round game was better too, passing the ball well as the front three gelled better than they typically have this season and getting more involved in the build-up. A cracking young player who is earning his hot streak.

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