As the transfer window shut to break all previous records in spending, we look at three under-21 players bought by the Premier League clubs, that can go on to become a household name in the years to come.
1 a Joe Gomez (Liverpool FC)
The defender signed for Liverpool FC from Charlton Athletic in a A?3.5million ($5.5million, 5million euros) deal having progressed quickly at Charlton. He played for the U18 side at the age of 13 and made 21 appearances in the Championship in the 2014/15 season.
Gomez was part of the English national side that won the European U17 Championships last summer, and was named in the team of the tournament in the process. His performances earned him comparisons with former England star Rio Ferdinand, whom Gomez idolizes.
It was expected that the defender would be loaned out to gain experience. However, after a splendid pre-season where he earned rave reviews from the Liverpool fans and coaches alike, the defender was not only kept at Anfield at the expense of a much experienced Andre Wisdom (who was loaned out), but also managed to keep Spain international Alberto Moreno out of the starting eleven in the opening four games for Liverpool FC.
Liverpool have kept clean sheets in three of those four games. This, when he not a full-back but a centre-back. Not only that, but he is also not a left-footed player, but has been deployed as a left-back.
Having replaced a much more attack-minded and defensively undisciplined Alberto Moreno at left-back, the player has looked rock solid in the first three games. He did have a poor outing against West Ham but, given he is just 18, that can be excused if he continues to play the way he did in the first three games. .
Verdict: 4/5 A bargain if he continues to play with the same composure and determination. The defender has pace to burn to add to his list of attributes, so much that he outpaced Hector Bellerin in the recent Arsenal FC clash. Gomez looks like a tremendous addition.
2 – Patrick Roberts (Manchester City)
A host of Premier League sides, including Chelsea FC, Manchester United and Liverpool FC were chasing Roberts, who is regarded as one of the most promising talents in England. However, it was Manchester City who trumped their rivals by moving quickly to steal the England under-19 international under their noses for a fee of A?5million, which could rise to A?11 million with various add-ons.
Following the departures of James Milner to Liverpool FC and other Englishmen in Frank Lampard, Micah Richards and Dedryck Boyata this summer, Manchester City were in dire need of English players for their Champions League squad.
They have been monitoring Robertsa progress at Craven Cottage for some time. While they see the midfielder as one for the future, they clearly believe he could prove a valuable addition to their squad for next season as they need to bolster their homegrown quota.
Verdict: 3/5 Roberts was in the squad when City faced Watford and the player could play his part in the cup competitions for City this season. Big things are expected from the attacker who likes to play as an inside forward on the right or in the hole. The talent is not in the question, but the fact that City’s squad is littered with experienced talents in the position, it is difficult to see how Roberts will get regular football over the next two years. This could be a major roadblock in his development.
3. Kenedy (Chelsea FC)
Chelsea FC signed the teenage Brazilian from Fluminense for a reported fee of under A?7 million. The Brazil U20 international has been dubbed to be the next ‘Hulk’ due his tall stature, a hammer of a left-foot and great pace. All these attributes were in full display when he came on as a second-half substitute against Crystal Palace.
Big thing are expected from Kenedy, who can play on the wings or as a wing-back (although it is unlikely that he will be deployed there by Jose Mourinho who also has Baba Rahman or Bertrand Traore to play in the role).
Verdict: 3/5 – It is the testament to his talent that Chelsea FC did not choose to loan him out to feeder club Vitesse and retained him as a member of the squad, despite the late signing of Pedro. If Kenedy was to settle quickly in the league and remain focused, he could very well turn out to be a bargain buy for just 7m GBP.