Sat 18 September 2021 | 10:30

The Next Generation of English football: Lions on the way

In the following article from SportMob, we will have a look at the next generation of English football and analyze the top 10 best English young football players 2021.

Football has been played in England since the Middle Ages. "After dinner, all the city youths go out into the fields for the viral game of ball," William Fitzstephen wrote of his visit to London in about 1170. "The elders, the fathers, and the men of wealth come on horseback to view the contests of their juniors, and in their fashion sport with the young men," he continued, "and there appears to be aroused in these elders a stirring of natural heat by viewing so much activity and by participation in the joys of unrestrained youth." In English, kickball games are described.

Manager Gareth Southgate is building a national team full of young stars. The players among the 

new generation of English soccer team

 are ready to prove themselves as gems.

Reece James

, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Mason Mount, Declan Rice, and Bukayo Saka are young stars growing into world-beaters. But these are names that are already dominating headlines on the next generation of English talents.

England won the FIFA World Cup in 1966 and has attempted to repeat the achievement throughout the subsequent few decades, but has been unable. Between 2001 and 2010, fans felt the squad would be able to end the drought. A set of players had risen to the occasion like no other. England appeared to boast some of the world's top players.

Players like John Terry and Franck Lampard,

David Beckham

, Owen, Gerrard and Campbell, Wayne Rooney and Rio Ferdinand, Paul Scholes and Gary Neville, unfortunately, are not born every day. However, there are some signs of recovery regarding 

the next generation of English football

, especially after the brilliant period they had at Euro 2020.

England are still far from the level of France and Italy and many others. Still, however, hope can be glimpsed for the first time, thanks to the explosion of potentially fantastic players such as Jack Grealish, and Phil Foden foundations to become great footballers. Lack of experience on the pitch is one of the problems faced by our most perspective players. The number of appearances counts, but it is not enough to form the sample, so we intend to make a list of the English talents for 2021 that could form England’s future and make the country shine.

Top 10 Best English Young Football Players 2021

Football is changing; its future is upon us. Today investing in young people and above all "building them at home" must be the next step in English football. For this reason, it becomes essential today to look at what can be done tomorrow and, in particular, to be able to compose "a generation Z" of players able to face the next challenges of the change implemented.

The players mentioned as

the next generation of English football

are the stars of the new generation of English soccer team. If you are interested in the list of the English talents for 2021, keep reading.

10. Reece James

21-year-old Reece James is an exciting young star. Although the dynamic teenager is only 21, he has been a standout performer for the Blues this season. James is a very speedy and technically excellent player. In the current season, his defensive abilities have vastly improved. James' recent exploits have put him in contention for Gareth Southgate's England squad for the European Championships.

James appears to be on his way to becoming a full-back. His versatility is demonstrated because he started 13 of 44 games in central midfield for Wigan in the Championship as a teenager. He appeared completely at ease and frequently sparkled. He has played both right-back and right-wing-back for


, with his midfield experience preparing him to play in the Premier League in a position where he has a little more time on the ball.

He's a technically gifted footballer who does a lot of his best work on the front foot. James is an attacking right-back who strides forward with the ball with purpose and can beat an opponent. He always wants to get into a position where he can put the ball into the penalty box. He can take defenders around the outside by pressing the ball forward and outpacing them.

Still, he also has the close control to squirm his way out of danger — a valuable skill for a central midfielder that makes him a better player full-back. There are times when his first touch fails him, but he overcomes this with a drop of the shoulder, a rapid change of direction, or even nutmeg to leave his opponent behind. He is a future star in

the next generation of English football


9. Declan Rice

In West Ham's surprising bid for a Champions League spot this season, the youthful defensive midfielder has come into his own and made himself know as a pillar of

the next generation of English talents

. The 22-year-old plays the game as if he were much older. He not only possesses all of the skills necessary to be a top-tier defensive midfielder, but he also possesses strong leadership qualities. Rice is a leader for West Ham on and off the field, and he does a similar role for England when surrounded by veteran players on international duty.

Rice has quickly established himself as an important element of Gareth Southgate's team, despite England's center midfield choices being restricted. He and Tomas Soucek, on the other hand, have formed a physically formidable central midfield pair at club level, helping West Ham achieve a return to European competition by placing sixth in the Premier League in 2020/21. Rice is a defensive-minded player who excels at winning the ball and defending his teammates.

His seamless shift from central defender to a defensive midfielder, where he has demonstrated a true flair for delaying and breaking up assaults, especially at the point of an opponent's attacking transition, has demonstrated how effortlessly this side of the game comes to him. Rice is similar to

N'Golo Kante

in that he has the capacity to spot danger that only the finest ball-winners have. He, like Kante, covers a lot of ground and makes a lot of tackles and interceptions, albeit his figures aren't as impressive as Kante's.

8. Mason Greenwood

Last season, the 19-year-old exploded onto the football world, scoring 15 goals across all competitions. On the other hand, Greenwood has only scored seven goals in all competitions despite starting more first-team games this season. A recent comeback to form could indicate that the kid is regaining form at a key time in the Red Devils' season.

English football appears to have a promising future. Many young English players, such as Jadon Sancho, Marcus Rashford, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Mason Mount, Bukayo Saka, Declan Rice, Phil Foden, and others, provide a reason for optimism, and the development of young English talent shows no signs of slowing. Mason Greenwood of Manchester United is among the brightest of them, having made more than one appearance in all of Europe's top five divisions in 2019/20 and scoring the Premier League's youngest goal that season. 

Greenwood has benefited greatly from Solskjaer's belief in the quality of players developed by United's academy, as evidenced by his coming off the bench to make his first-team debut in the second leg of United's Champions League last-16 tie against Paris Saint-Germain in February 2019. Even though United's squad was weak and needed a late goal to advance, Solskjaer maintained faith in Greenwood. Greenwood, who was only 17 at the time, showed no signs of anxiety following his late debut, and he hasn't shown any since.

He is primarily a goal scorer, but he does so with confidence that he shares his manager's belief in his abilities. He has the appearance of a player who believes he already belongs at the top. When he shoots, he uses very little backlift and hits through the ball to generate amazing power with apparently little effort - in that regard, and probably just that sense, his style is similar to Jermain Defoe's, who was mostly successful due to his ability to fire swiftly. He's a devastating combination of accurate finishing and poise, as Solskjaer has mentioned. Keep an eye on England’s largest asset in the next generation of English football.

7. Bukayo Saka

In what can only be characterized as a terrible Arsenal squad, the 19-year-old has established himself as an interesting talent. In total, the dynamic star has seven goals and five assists across all competitions. With more top-level experience, he will only improve. Unai Emery gave Bukayo Saka his professional debut shortly after his 17th birthday at the start of 2018/19, but he didn't start frequently appearing until 2019/20.

Saka, an


youth graduate who first saw action as a winger, earned Mikel Arteta's trust by filling in at left-back after a string of injuries. He has now not only progressed to his preferred position of a wide attacking midfielder, but he has also established himself as one of Arsenal's most vital individuals. Saka has demonstrated the dedication required to become a top player since he was a child.

When Saka came off the bench to replace the injured Sead Kolasinac, Arteta was in the Manchester City dugout during Freddie Ljungberg's final game as Arsenal's caretaker manager. Arteta must have liked what he saw because he has been reliant on Saka since taking over as Arsenal manager.

In Arsenal's first 16 games under Arteta, the kid was an important component on the left side of a back four that kept eight clean sheets, but it was going forward that he impressed the most. He looked better as a wing-back than a full-back, but in a 4-2-3-1, he's even more productive as a wide attacking midfielder. Saka is considered one of the stars of the new generation of English soccer team.

6. Callum Hudson-Odoi

The winger has yet to live up to his potential in a Chelsea shirt, but he has shown flashes of his skill this season, scoring five goals and assisting three times. At the age of 20, he is still a work in progress that requires more playing experience to become a member of the next generation of English talents.

Hudson-Odoi is an aggressive winger who can play on the left or right side of the field, and his vision and timing of release are already impressive for a young player in his position. Whereas many players with a similar profile will often opt for risky but ultimately unsuccessful dribbles, Chelsea's promising winger uses possession – often with a quick shift of the ball – to test defenders' ability to predict the destination of his attempted pass, allowing him to play them more successfully.

Doing so encourages him to use both feet – often in the same move and allows him to experiment with varied delivery angles and possibilities, which is especially useful when he lacks support. His outstanding athleticism - impressive speed, balance, and direction changes and hence his potential when attacking one-on-one add to his relative unpredictability.

Hudson-Odoi is the most capable of powering past opponents, shielding and protecting possession, and driving through greater gaps among his Stamford Bridge teammates - Mount and Pulisic. To compare, Mount and Pulisic are more likely to go across a limited space with nimble footwork. With only three full seasons under his belt at senior level in Premier League, Odoi can already claim to be one of the stars of the

top 10 best English young football players 2021


5. Trent Alexander-Arnold

While the 22-year-old Reds full-back has likely had the worst season of his young career, it's difficult to dismiss him. This season, he has scored twice for Liverpool and provided five assists but who dares not to put him on the list of the next generation of English football?

It wasn't easy to stand out in Liverpool's stunning Champions League-winning 2018/19 and a title-winning team of 2019/20 because there were so many strengths, but Trent Alexander-Arnold did. Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson perfectly encapsulate the shifting nature of their position by playing such an influential role from full-back.

Alexander-crossing Arnold's is the most amazing feature of his game. He has an excellent skill, and depending on his position, he can adjust his crosses to pinpoint a specific teammate with lethal accuracy. It is critical that he releases and plays the ball quickly. Alexander-Arnold makes most of his crosses with his first or second touch, and he adds pace on the ball; what makes him so effective is that he does this without losing quality or accuracy.

When defenders are retreating towards their own goal, and there is space between them and their goalie for Alexander-Arnold to aim for and Liverpool's front three to run into, his crosses are extremely dangerous. Without a doubt, Trent Alexander-Arnold has a special in the list of

the English talents for 2021


4. Jadon Sancho

When Jadon Sancho of Manchester United made the daring choice to leave Manchester City for Borussia Dortmund at 17, he launched himself into the unknown. Sancho moved to the Bundesliga after deciding there were too many obstacles in his way into the first team at the Etihad, where he rose to prominence, scoring double figures in goals and assists in consecutive seasons - a feat few players achieve in their entire careers, let alone before their 21st birthday, as Sancho did.

He set records from the minute he arrived in Germany, becoming the first player born in the 2000s to score twice in a Bundesliga match and the youngest player ever to do so for Dortmund, before becoming the youngest player in Bundesliga history to score 10 goals in a season. Therefore, it was unsurprising to see him quickly break into the England group, where he has established himself as a key player under

Gareth Southgate


Sancho is a gifted dribbler, and it is this aspect of his game provides the most visually appealing and successful play. He has the ability to explode away from a stop and reach top speed quickly, and he can manage the ball wonderfully even at high speeds.

To shift course before exploding away from opponents, he utilizes small, quick touches, or to come to a halt, take stock of his surroundings, and move away from pressure; he uses small, quick touches. When advancing, he uses basic, effective shoulder drops to throw opponents off-balance, then uses his excellent close control and balance. In one-on-one scenarios, he is quite effective.

As one of the important members of the English talents for 2021 list, his ability to get a lot of touches, on the other hand, can occasionally work against him; if an opposing defense can match his pace over a short distance, a large volume of touches will slow him down and diminish his chances of beating them. Few opponents can keep up with him over longer distances, but if he's carrying the ball infield, those touches not only assist defenders in keeping up with him but also encourage them to try to take the ball.

3. Mason Mount

If we are talking about the new generation of English soccer team, Mason Mount should be there. Mount, like Foden, has been a key player for his club this season. In total, the 22-year-old has ten goals and seven assists for the Blues in all competitions. The offensive midfielder appears to be on his way to becoming a top player as one of the top 10 best English young football players 2021.

Mason Mount rapidly established himself as a crucial player for Chelsea after returning to his parent club after impressing on loan at

Derby County

in the Championship in 2018/19. Mount has remained one of the first names on the teamsheet since Thomas Tuchel arrived at Stamford Bridge, which speaks something about his skill after his first development under Frank Lampard. Gareth Southgate places a high value on him at the international level as well.

Mount is a versatile player who can play a variety of positions on the field. He is most effective when given the freedom of a number 10, but he can also play as a wide player in a front three, a number 8 in a midfield three, or a center midfielder who withdraws to gather possession from defense, though he hasn't done so since his Derby days. Lampard's preferred position at Derby and Chelsea was as a number eight in a central midfield three in a 4-3-3, but he has demonstrated versatility throughout his career.

His ability to collect passes from deep and rapidly shifting into a forward-facing position with few touches is possibly an essential aspect of his game in allowing him to be effective as a number 10 player. Instead of returning possession the way it came – and risking his team's momentum - Mount switches his weight to his back foot after receiving the ball to keep the attack moving, which is excellent for rapidly connecting with the runners ahead of him.

2. Phil Foden

The England international is one of his generation's most promising young players. The 20-year-old has been an integral part of what may be a hugely successful season for his club in 2020/21. In total, Foden has 16 goals and ten assists across all competitions. He has three goals and three assists in the Champions League, demonstrating that he can play at the highest level. The midfielder has a chance to shine at the European Championships this summer.

One of the most gifted young English footballers in recent memory, Phil Foden, is already a well-known figure in the Premier League. Foden has more Premier League and Champions League experience than others his age, having stayed at Manchester City rather than going on loan to learn from one of the competition's greatest ever creators in David Silva and one of its best managers in

Pep Guardiola


Foden is a rare English footballer who is entirely at ease playing in the middle of midfield for Guardiola's club. His outstanding first touch, close control, balance, and grace on the ball make him look more like a modern Spanish midfielder than a Stockport midfielder born in May 2000.

Foden's technique is comparable to that of a young Jack Wilshere in that he constantly looks to take his first touch with his back foot upon receiving a pass, poised and ready to advance play with his next move. He also has a Wilshere-like ability to glide past obstacles as if they didn't exist. With both his passing and dribbling, he is eager and forward-thinking, and he is equally at ease between the lines as he is coming deep to collect the ball from in front of the opposition's midfield.

He frequently feeds into more advanced teammates from deeper areas before making a run and offers the option of a return pass to attempt and work his way through a crowd. If the ball is moved straight to the front line, Foden makes deft, curved moves to lose his marker and wind up in a central position, facing goal and ready to receive a set from a more advanced teammate.

Foden's pass selection and weight of pass benefit from that position, as he can find a runner behind the long blocks that City frequently faces. In that aspect, he is not yet on David Silva's level, but he has lots of time to grow. However, Foden has all the potential to make it into the list of

the next generation of English football


1. Jack Grealish

Jack Grealish

has taken advantage of the opportunity to regularly test himself at the top level after becoming a vital player for boyhood club Aston Villa and proving his talent on the biggest platform with a succession of good performances for England at Euro 2020. He is the number one, on the list of the next generation of English football for a bunch of reasons.

On occasion, Grealish mainly began on the left side of Villa's front three, but he also started in central midfield or as the number 10. He prefers to drift out to the left-wing whenever he plays, looking to get on the ball in space on that side of the pitch.

Grealish is a gifted midfielder who enjoys receiving the ball and constantly offers his teammates a passing option. He's neither a center midfielder nor a classic number ten, and he's definitely not a striker. Instead, he excels when free to roam into whichever position he thinks he would be most likely to find space and catch the ball. At Villa, he was given that freedom to prowl the pitch looking for openings to make passes and swiftly pivot to face forward.

Because Grealish is at his most dangerous when he has even the tiniest chance to turn and face goal, opponents routinely trail him as he moves into deeper positions to receive from the defense. When he gets the ball, his first reaction is to drive forward with purpose, getting his team as high up the pitch as possible. 

Villa's opponents frequently pin them back; Grealish can ease pressure on his squad by quickly putting their opponents on the back foot. He is one of the best dribblers in the Premier League. He has a low center of gravity and technique that allows him to move the ball with his right foot while remaining perfectly balanced, allowing him to jink in either direction away from his man.

He can move too slowly at times, allowing opponents to recover into solid defensive positions, but he makes use of his change of pace. Before providing a pass or shooting at the goal, he waits for the right moment to abruptly shift direction and remove his direct opponent by blasting past them.

Opponents attempt to show him on to his weaker left foot because he is clearly stronger with it, but Grealish has improved the detail of his dribbling when moving to his left – generally, the outside because he prefers to play on the left. With his next touch, he moves the ball to his left, barely out of reach of his opponent, before swiftly straightening up.

That touch redirects his course back towards goal, where if he can move his body across the defender, he will find himself on the wrong side of his opponent, forcing him to commit a foul. Grealish is naturally off balance when he does this, and he has mastered the art of getting free-kicks in these situations by drawing a nudge or a clip from his opponent. so, and for this reason, no one would be surprised if we set him in the first place as a pillar of the next generation of English football.

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