Getty Images

10 potential breakout Premier League players


We know about the superstars. We know about the big-money transfers. We know about the young wonderkids.

But who are the players that have yet to reach the highest heights that could see a breakout performance? Harry Kane went from Spurs youth product to household name with 21 blasts in 2014/15. N'Golo Kante rocketed to stardom by leading Leicester City to a stunning Premier League title. Kevin De Bruyne made Chelsea sorry with 21 assists for Man City in 2016/17, cementing him as one of the best attacking mids in England. Jordan Pickford went from Premier League bottomfeeder to World Cup starter thanks to his performance last year with Everton.

So who makes the leap this coming season? We detail a few of the possible choices, will full knowledge that the true breakout star emerge come from a place nobody saw coming.

Trent Alexander-Arnold

Liverpool’s outstanding young star was a true unknown midway through last season. The 19-year-old earned a starting spot in February and never gave it up, garnering respect from pundits and fans alike. At his tender young age, TAA started a Champions League final at right-back, tasked with marking the immortal Cristiano Ronaldo. He performed spectacularly. If that moment isn’t too big for the youngster, then what is? It’s not a question of if Trent will become a star, it’s when.

Harry Maguire

A relatively run-of-the-mill center-back at Leicester City before this summer, Maguire earned himself global notoriety at the World Cup, displaying aerial prowess and superior marking ability. Now, it’s up to the 25-year-old to back up that one month performance as more than a flash in the pan, whether he begins the season at King Power Stadium or at Old Trafford. Maguire set himself up perfectly with a summer to remember, but he needs a longer boost at the club level to become a true global household name.

Ryan Sessegnon

Ryan Sessegnon took the Championship by storm last season, but will need to replicate his success to earn true praise (Bryn Lennon/Getty Images).

At 17 years old last season, young Ryan Sessegnon became the first Championship player to ever be named to the PFA Young Player of the Year shortlist. Beginning his career at left-back, it became clear that Sessegnon’s true value was higher up the pitch, and Fulham manager Slavisa Jokanovic obliged. With the freedom to maraud forward, Sessegnon couldn’t stop scoring. He bagged 20 goals and nine assists last season in Championship play, but his young legs tired as the season came to a close. If he has rested up and fires goals in the Premier League like he did last season a level below, he will be worth a fortune in a year’s time.

Lucas Torreira

New Arsenal defensive midfielder Lucas Torreira is just what the doctor ordered for the Gunners. Last season Arsenal maintained plenty of possession but struggled to cover the counter when they gave the ball away. With Unai Emery now in charge at The Emirates, the 22-year-old simply needs to beat out Granit Xhaka for minutes in the middle of the pitch. If he can earn his place in the lineup, Torreira showed in Serie A last season what he can bring to the Gunners, ranked the #10 overall player in the league last season by Squawka Statistics’ player metrics. He proved at the 2018 World Cup that his season was not a fluke, and now he’s ready to do big things in London.

Matteo Guendouzi

Matteo Guendouzi could be an impact player in the Arsenal midfield if his preseason performances are any indication (Suhaimi Abdullah/Getty Images).

Arsene Wenger may be gone from Arsenal, but that isn’t stopping the Gunners from plucking up premiere French young talent. Guendouzi is just 19, yet was a standout performer in Arsenal’s preseason run-up to the league campaign, and his David Luiz curls give him the edge needed to be a recognizable figure off the pitch. Costing just $10 million, his transfer from French club Lorient was utterly unnoticed, and that could make him one of the steals of the summer if he can earn regular playing time behind Mesut Ozil and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Andreas Christensen

The Danish center-back was a critical figure last season at Chelsea, earning significant playing time. However, he dipped in form through the final third of the season, and wasn’t that spectacular at the World Cup. 2018-19 appears to be a critical season for the 22-year-old, but if Christensen can recapture the form that earned him a starting role under Antonio Conte, he can develop into one of the best center-backs in the Premier League.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek

Spending much of his young career either out on loan or a bit-part player at Chelsea, the Blues youth product has been on these lists and has yet to make the jump into a significant role. However, England manager Gareth Southgate saw enough ability to use him in a repeated substitute role at the World Cup this summer, and that might be the signal flare Maurizio Sarri needed. Working against Loftus-Cheek is a crowded Chelsea midfield, competing for time with Cesc Fabregas, Mateo Kovacic, Danny Drinkwater, N’Golo Kante, Jorginho, and Ross Barkley, but if he can come up with the goods this year, he will have pedigree to back up his hype.

Jean-Michael Seri

With one Fulham player already on this list in Sessegnon, a new White makes the cut in new Ivory Coast international Jean-Michael Seri. The 27-year-old midfielder was a passing wizard in his three seasons at French club Nice, and he reportedly picked the Cottagers over Champions League clubs in England, Italy, and Germany. In Ligue 1 play, he was seventh in the league in completed through balls, and third if you don’t count absurdly dominant PSG. He was third overall in the league in key passes from open play. His xGBuildup, a stat that compiles the xG of every possession the player touches the ball not including shots and key passes, was better than Paul Pogba last season. Seri could be critical in Fulham’s attempt to play a Manchester City style in the top flight, and if he excels, he could be a valuable asset to not just survival but even greater accomplishments.

Diogo Jota

Like Sessegnon, Jota rocked the Championship but needs to prove he can have success at the highest level (David Rogers/Getty Images).

Wolves obliterated the Championship last season from start to finish, and a big reason why was the 21-year-old Portuguese winger. His pace was blistering, and with it he racked up 17 goals and drawing comparisons to Eden Hazard. Of the 16 games Jota scored in last season, Wolves won 12 and lost just one. He’s critical to the newly promoted side, and if he continues his form from last year, he could earn himself a look not just for Premier League Young Player of the Year, but also in the Portuguese national team, where he’s played significantly at the youth level but has yet to crack the senior squad.

Naby Keita

With so many Liverpool stars around him, it would be easy for Naby Keita to enter the Reds starting lineup in his first season and fly under the radar. Don’t expect that to happen. The 23-year-old enters into a logjammed midfield with Fabinho making his way from Monaco, Jordan Henderson coming off a spectacular World Cup, Girginio Wijnaldum having a great preseason, Adam Lallana healthy and James Milner continuing to grind games out. He has plenty of talent around him, and with any luck can be a more well-rounded N’Golo Kante, even if those are massive shoes to fill.

Bonus +1! Kepa Arrizabalaga

What would this list be without the new Chelsea goalkeeper? A relative unknown until recent weeks, the 23-year-old has suddenly become the world’s most expensive goalkeeper. He will have a massive weight upon his shoulders to replace Thibaut Courtois, and if he performs, would help Chelsea fans forget the Belgian’s departure altogether. Kepa is relatively untested with just two full top flight seasons under his belt. Yet so was Courtois when Chelsea brought him in and loaned him to Atletico Madrid where he helped bring the Spanish side to the Champions League final. His first Premier League season could go a long way to defining his future.

Others to consider: James Maddison, Jorginho, Bernardo Silva, Xherdan Shaqiri

Can Liverpool win 2018-19 Premier League title?

Leave a comment

The progression for the Reds under Jurgen Klopp is ready to take the next step this season. Having made the Champions League final last season and finishing a comfortable fourth in the Premier League table, Liverpool is now a title contender.

Contender. Not favorite.

That would be Manchester City, the team that blew the rest of the league out of the water last season and by all accounts threatens to do so again this coming year. Not if the Reds have anything to say about it.

But what will it take for Liverpool to make the leap? Is it realistic to think they can give Manchester City a good fight?

Yes. Yes it is.

We all know how good this Liverpool attack is. Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, and Roberto Firmino comprise a deadly trio of attacking threat. There is no Premier League defense that can adequately lock these three down for 180 minutes a season. Now add Xherdan Shaqiri, and it becomes virtually unstoppable.

What Liverpool has struggled with in recent years is its defense. They brought Virgil Van Dijk in last January, and he had an immediate impact. In the 14 matches van Dijk played for Liverpool last season – all of which he played 90 minutes – they conceded two or more goals just three times. Now, the Reds add Fabinho and Naby Keita in front of the defensive line and Alisson behind it, and the lockdown continues. Mix in Jordan Henderson who showed next-level capability as a number 6 at the World Cup this summer, and the midfield looks utterly stacked.

This is the most loaded team from front to back in the Premier League not named Manchester City. Not only that, but consider the presence of players like Giorginio Wijnaldum, Adam Lallana, and Daniel Sturridge, and this is the deepest team outside of Manchester City.

It’s obviously that Liverpool can win the title. Manchester City won’t have the cakewalk they had last year, and the Reds are a big reason why.

However, asking will Liverpool win the Premier League title is a whole other level. We’re not ready to go make that leap. Yet.

Liverpool confident of challenging for title

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Adam Lallana believes “the signs are really good” for Liverpool to “get to the next step” and win a trophy under Jurgen Klopp.

Liverpool have reached three major finals since Klopp took charge in October 2015 and although they’ve lost all three they’ve made major strides forward over the past 12 months with back-to-back top four finishes in the Premier League and finishing runners up in the UEFA Champions League in 2017/18.

So what’s the goal for this season? Lallana was asked if Liverpool are the biggest contenders to reigning champs Manchester City for the PL crown in 2018/19.

“That’s not for us to say, that’s for other people to speculate. But, of course, we are going to be in the pack who want to chase down City,” Lallana said. “Hopefully, Liverpool and three or four of the other top teams can squeeze a few more points out of City this year. That would make it more interesting.”

Lallana’s optimism is certainly shared by neutrals, pundits and supporters of the Anfield club, with Liverpool’s impressive summer spending set to give them a whole new dimension this season.

With Alisson arriving in goal, Fabinho in holding midfield, Naby Keita in central midfield and Xherdan Shaqiri as a back-up attacking midfielder, Klopp has upgraded in key areas and added plenty of strength in-depth.

Sure, it’s cost him $325 million over the past 12 months (if you count Virgil Van Dijk‘s $100 million arrival in January) but Liverpool now look like genuine title contenders and they certainly gave Man City plenty of problems in their record-breaking title campaign last season.

The pressing and pace of Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino totally threw off City in a 4-3 defeat at Anfield in the league, while Liverpool beat them 5-1 on aggregate over two legs in the UCL quarterfinals to assert their dominance.

Although Lallana is correct to hope for help from the other title contenders in taking points off City, Liverpool must take care of business against bottom feeders in the PL. Last season they lost against Swansea and drew with fellow-relegated teams West Brom (twice) and Stoke.

For all of their high-pressing and speedy forward play, Liverpool must develop a Plan B this season if they’re going to chase down City. With Keita, Shaqiri and Fabinho on board, their options in midfield have been bolstered and with Alisson (the most expensive goalkeeper in history) in goal they should eradicate costly errors.

Player ratings: Salah, Mane shine with brilliant second-half showings

Leave a comment

NEW JERSEY — The stars weren’t fully aligned on the pitch during Wednesday’s INternational Champions Cup clash at MetLife Stadium, but the three big names that did appear in the second half made for quite the entertainment.

[ MORE: Wing wizards Mahrez, Sane aim for Man City glory ]

Liverpool’s dynamic duo of Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane completely altered the complexion of the match for the Reds, who went on to win the match 2-1 behind stellar performances from each man.

Salah’s ability to pick out the open spaces began to stretch the Citizens defensively, and the Egypt international created several dangerous chances, on top of his goal just moments after entering the match.

Meanwhile, Leroy Sane did well to introduce himself early in the second stanza, scoring 12 minutes after entering for Pep Guardiola‘s group.

Riyad Mahrez and Jack Harrison were among the tone-setters for City early on in the match, with Mahrez proving why the defending champions went out and spent significant funds on the Algerian.

Here are PST’s player ratings for Wednesday night’s all-PL ICC clash.

Manchester City

Claudio Bravo: 5
Jason Denayer: 5
Oleksandr Zinchenko: 5
Eric Garcia: 5
Cameron Humphreys: 5
Phil Foden: 5
Brahim Diaz: 4
Jack Harrison: 6
Riyad Mahrez: 6
Luke Bolton: 4
Lukas Nmecha: 5

Key Subs

Leroy Sane: 7


Loris Karius: 5
Andrew Robertson: 5
Virgil Van Dijk: 5
Joe Gomez: 5
Nathaniel Clyne: 5
Fabinho: 6
James Milner: 4
Georginio Wijnaldum: 5
Adam Lallana: 5
Curtis Jones: 5
Daniel Sturridge: 4

Key Subs

Sadio Mane: 7
Mohamed Salah: 8

Pulisic linked with Tottenham. Which club suits him best?


Fresh from making his first appearance back with the U.S. men’s national team in over eight months in the 3-0 blitzing of Bolivia in his home state of Pennsylvania on Monday, Christian Pulisic is waking up to reports that another Premier League team want to sign him.

This time, according to the Telegraph, it’s Tottenham Hotspur.

With Pulisic ambivalent about continued reports that both Liverpool and Manchester United want to sign him, last week the Borussia Dortmund teenager told Pro Soccer Talk the following in an exclusive interview.

“I really don’t look or read into it very much,” Pulisic said. “People know more about it than I do! Of course, the Premier League is a great league. It was a dream to play there when I was younger but I’m under contract with Dortmund and I’m just working hard there at the moment.”

Yet it is worth considering what the next step holds for Pulisic, still just 19, even though he only signed a new long-term deal with Bundesliga giants Dortmund last year and is coming off a record season in terms of output in the league campaign with four goals and five assists in 2017/18.

At first glance the Spurs link seems the most intriguing out of Premier League clubs who are reportedly in buying him for close to $65 million.

Chelsea are also mentioned in the report but with their track record of stock-piling, then failing to give chances to young talents, plus Jose Mourinho’s lack of belief in young players, surely Pulisic should rule out United (despite his affinity for the club as a child) and Chelsea right off the bat.

Liverpool and Tottenham should be his first two choices, if he leaves Dortmund anytime soon.

Jurgen Klopp remains in touch with Pulisic as he oversaw his move from the U.S. to Germany during his time as Dortmund boss. Liverpool will be desperate to sign Pulisic to not only be a long-term replacement for Philippe Coutinho but also to excite their considerable fanbase in the USA.

That fact, despite Pulisic’s obvious playing qualities, is why Spurs, Liverpool, United and Chelsea are lining up to sign him.

Yet it’s hard to look past the fact that Pulisic’s development into a true world-class player could be fast-tracked at Tottenham under Mauricio Pochettino. The Argentine coach has put faith in the likes of Dele Alli and Harry Kane and in the past he helped nurture Luke Shaw, Adam Lallana and Calum Chambers at Southampton.

Pochettino would be the perfect mentor for Pulisic and, if the reports regarding Christian Eriksen attracting interest from Barcelona are true, then a spot may open up for him to be a starter sooner than many would expect.

That’s the main problem for Pulisic right now.

Does he leave a situation at Dortmund where he played in 43 games over the past season to head to the Premier League where he might only appear in 20-25 games, with many of those substitute appearances? That is what will likely happen if he joins Liverpool or Spurs over the summer due to their depth in attacking areas and the obvious adjustments he will have to make to his game.

Right now it seems that the best decision Pulisic can make is to see where he slots into Lucien Favre’s plans over preseason as the Swiss coach takes charge of Dortmund this summer after his arrival from Nice. Favre is known as a manager who trusts youth too and Pulisic seems happy to continue his journey at Dortmund with another season in the UEFA Champions League to look forward to.

There’s a growing sense that Pulisic will eventually move to the Premier League but it seems that he would be best suited to wait at least one more year before he heads to one of England’s big boys.