There have been a number of exceptional performances from the Premier League’s young players this season.
Here is a starting XI, made solely from the top flight’s best talent aged 21 or under.
Goal-keeper: Jack Butland (21)
Jack Butland has spent the majority of the 2013/14 season on loan at Leeds United, where he has featured on 16 occasions. With a limited number of top flight goalkeepers under the age of 21, he makes the cut in this starting XI.
Right-back: Jon Flanagan (21)
Jon Flanagan has emerged as an unlikely hero at Anfield during the club’s resurgence this season. The young Englishman has established himself as a regular starter in Brendan Rodgers’ side, registering 21 Premier League appearances. He has been dubbed as the ‘red Cafu’ and deservedly so – he is a tough tackling defender with a constant willingness to put his body on the line.
Centre-back: John Stones (19)
John Stones is the latest Everton youth product to establish himself as a first team starter. The Englishman has shown maturity beyond his years throughout his 21 league appearances and it’s clear he has earned Roberto Martinez’s full trust. At just 19 years of age he has a huge future ahead of him.
Centre-back: Matija Nastasic (21)
Matija Nastasic has experienced limited game time this season due to recurring injuries, but would almost certainly be favoured over Martin Demichelis and Joleon Lescott in the Manchester City starting eleven. The Serbian has featured on 11 occasions this season.
Left-back: Luke Shaw (18)
Luke Shaw has experienced a truly magnificent season, and his form as Southampton’s default left back has seen him earn a call up to the England squad. He has tremendous ability in both attack and defence, leading many to draw comparisons with former Saint, Gareth Bale. The club will be forced to endure the tough task of keeping Shaw this summer, with the 18-year-old earning the interest from the likes of Manchester United and Chelsea.
Centre-midfield: Ross Barkley (20)
Ross Barkley has been handed the opportunity to prove himself on the Premier League stage during Roberto Martinez’s debut season at Goodison Park and the English teenager has failed to disappoint. He has made 34 appearances during this time, netting a total of six goals. His stellar performance versus Manchester City on Saturday epitomises his class. Expect him to feature in Brazil this summer.
Centre-midfield: James Ward-Prowse (19)
James Ward-Prowse has become an important figure at Southampton this term, having made 32 league appearances, of which 16 were starts. At just 19 years of age the Englishman has made a significant impact in a side bursting to the brim with talent.
Right-midfield: Raheem Sterling (19)
Raheem Sterling’s fine form this season has seen him rewarded with a first England senior call-up and he now has a fantastic chance of travelling to Brazil in the summer. At just 19 years of age, he has proven himself as one of most exciting talent’s in the Premier League, with Brendan Rodgers describing him as the best youngsters in Europe.
Left-midfield: Adnan Januzaj (19)
Adnan Januzaj is one of the very few positives from what has proven a disappointing season at Old Trafford. The 19-year-old has recently devoted his loyalties to the Belgian national team and, after an impressive debut Premier League season, he looks set to participate in the summer World Cup.
Attacking-midfield: Philippe Coutinho (21)
Coutinho is an exceptional talent and his performances have been delightful during the second half of the season. Playing in the number 10 role, or deeper in midfield, he possesses fantastic creativity and flair. In 31 appearances this campaign the Brazilian has netted five goals, whilst assisting a further seven.
Striker: Romelu Lukaku (20)
Jose Mourinho must be ruing his decision to allow the Belgian striker a loan move. During his time with Everton, Lukaku has excelled. Having scored on 14 occasions, he has played a major role in the club’s quest for European football.