'Best U21 XI' - cause for concern for Premier League?

Neymar Brazil 2

WhoScored.com released their Under 21 team of the season so far – and not a single Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester United, Liverpool player was in sight…

The highly popular football statistics website used their ratings system to compile a team of players under the age of 21, but only across the top five European leagues (England, Spain, Germany, France and Italy).

The team featured a number of targets for Premier League teams, but no players from England's top division – even including a nine-man “backup” list. Marc-Andre Ter Stegen, a rumoured target of Arsenal, was chosen as the goalkeeper with fellow German Brend Leno of Bayer Leverkusen as his backup. Borussia Monchengladbach stopper Ter Stegen has been strongly linked with a move to Barcelona, but Arsenal reportedly still hold an interest in him.

Another Arsenal target, Serge Aurier of Toulouse, sneaked into the team at the expense of Monaco's Brazilian defender Fabinho, whilst former Everton defender Shkodran Mustafi, now of Sampdoria, backs up central defenders Luca Antei and Robin Knoche.

Rumoured Chelsea target Ricardo Rodriguez was chosen ahead of Monaco's Layvin Kurzawa at left back, with the Swiss international graded out as the second best player in the team behind Neymar according to WhoScored's stats.

In midfield, former Manchester United man Paul Pogba was paired with Isco, who was a target for Manuel Pellegrini's Manchester City in the summer, with PSG's Marco Verratti just missing out. Koke, linked with Manchester United and Liverpool recently, and Neymar were the players to take roles on the flanks as Liverpool target Juan Iturbe and Bayer Leverkusen's Son Heung-Min were on the periphery.

Hoffenheim's Robert Firmino edged out Julian Draxler in attacking midfield, despite the Schalke man becoming a player of interest for the Premier League's top clubs. Another former Manchester United target, Domenico Berardi, was beaten to the starting XI by Hamburg's Pierre-Michel Lasogga.

With 20 players selected in total, it's damning that no Premier League player managed to make the squad, but most players have been targeted by clubs looking to – yet again – import players rather than develop their own. Ten of the players (50%) currently play in their home country, with half of those coming through the ranks with their clubs.

image: © simonw92

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