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Chukwuemeka, Olise: African wonderkids to set the Prem alight this season

01:08 GMT+3 03/08/2022
Chukwuemeka, Matar Sarr, Olise

Ahead of the new Premier League season, GOAL’s Ed Dove picks out six wonderkids to watch this season.

Which of these players could establish themselves among the division’s star players this term, and who can truly realise their potential in the months to come?

Read on to find out…

  • Carney Chukwuemeka Aston Villa 2021-22

    Carney Chukwuemeka

    One of the Premier League’s brightest young prospects, Chukwuemeka had appeared primed to enjoy a season of growth at Aston Villa under the guidance of Steven Gerrard.

    However, following his outstanding exploits for England at the U-19 European Championships earlier this summer, he is set to become Chelsea’s third signing of the summer.

    Villa have confirmed his imminent exit—the 18-year-old only had a year left on his contract—with Barcelona, Borussia Dortmund and AC Milan among the other clubs interested in his services.

  • Michael Olise Crystal Palace 2021-22

    Michael Olise

    Heading into his second season as a Premier League player, Olise only showed his best in glimpses at Crystal Palace last term.

    Could this be the campaign in which he explodes into life?

    The attacker had a hand in just seven goals last term, but during his time in the Championship with Reading he demonstrated dazzling footwork and technical prowess, coupled with an ability to truly make a difference in the final third.

    With more starts for the Eagles, he should be able to translate this prodigious output to the top flight.

  • Rayan Ait-Nouri Wolverhampton

    Rayan Ait-Nouri

    Seriously impressive since arriving at Wolves—initially on loan—in 2020, Ait-Nouri is consistently considered among the most underrated full-backs in the division, but could this be the year when he is truly viewed among the league’s best defensive widemen?

    Ait-Nouri has particularly caught the eye going forward, where his adventure, quick feet and vitality have made him a favourite among Wolves fans.

    Will the Franco-Algerian defender still be at Molineux beyond this month? Chelsea are understood to be keeping tabs on the 21-year-old.

  • Pape Matar Sarr Metz

    Pape Matar Sarr

    A bizarre winner of the African Young Player of the Year award, Sarr undoubtedly has talent—although he showed precious little of it as FC Metz were relegated from Ligue 1 last season.

    AC Milan are understood to be keen on his services, although with Tottenham Hotspur understood to be unwilling to allow the wonderkid to leave on loan, it remains to be seen what his future holds.

    At the moment, Spurs’ midfield appears somewhat crowded, although if the likes of Harry Winks and Tanguy Ndombele are moved on, then Sarr may well get his opportunity to prove his class on the grandest stage.

  • Sekou Mara

    Sekou Mara

    Mara, the son of a French journalist and Senegalese entrepreneur, became the youngest player in almost a decade and a half to find the net for Girondins de Bordeaux when he bagged against Stade Rennais in May last year.

    The 21-22 season was a year of growth for the attacker, who netted six times in the top flight as the Bordelais were unable to avoid relegation.

    A move abroad—and to Southampton—beckoned, where the young France U-21 international will be charged with bolstering the club’s attacking options.

    Admittedly, his debut against Villarreal wasn’t outstanding, but Mara could prove to be a valuable addition for the south-coast club.

  • Armel Bella-Kotchap of Southampton

    Armel Bella-Kotchap

    A new signing at Southampton from Bochum, Bella-Kotchap is definitely at the early stages of his career, but has the potential to be an immense centre-back partner for Mohammed Salisu.

    His physical presence, his pace and his aggressiveness should make him a natural fit at Saints, where the German-Cameroon defender is unlikely to shirk any confrontation.

    He should be comfortable in Southampton’s high line, and has the quality to excel under Ralph Hasenhuttl.