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Amad Diallo, Harvey Elliott, Folarin Balogun and Billy Gilmour
Amad Diallo, Harvey Elliott, Folarin Balogun and Billy Gilmour are among the young players looking to impress this season

Every season, a group of young players make the first big step on the journey to becoming Premier League stars.

But who are the likely candidates to be this season’s breakout performers?

BBC Sport selects nine young players who could make a genuine impact on the English top flight next season.

Clearly, there is some guesswork at play here and we cannot cover every possible young superstar, so feel free to use the comments section to add to this list with your own suggestions and why you think they will shine next season.

Folarin Balogun (Arsenal)

Folarin Balogun

Arsenal and their fans have been waiting for one of their stable of promising young strikers to step up and start scoring in the Premier League for a number of seasons.

With the progress of Gabriel Martinelli and Eddie Nketiah both stalling somewhat for differing reasons, there are big hopes that Folarin Balogun can steal a march on both.

The 20-year-old made his first-team debut last season, playing six games in total and scoring twice in five Europa League matches, and after signing a new four-year deal in April is now set to be a permanent fixture in the first-team squad.

Nine goals in 18 Premier League 2 games in 2019-20 is just a teaser of his predatory skills and with the Gunners seemingly looking more towards youth, now could be Balogun’s time to shine on the big stage.

Moises Caicedo (Brighton)

Moises Caicedo

Brighton reportedly beat a number of other European clubs to the signature of 19-year-old Ecuadorean Moises Caicedo, parting with what could prove to be a bargain £4m for the midfielder in the last winter transfer window.

Manager Graham Potter was quick to temper expectations, stating it was important to give the player time to adjust to living in England and Premier League football.

Now with that acclimatisation process a few months down the line and with some impressive Under-23 games under his belt, now may be the time for Caicedo to shine.

The level of his involvement could depend on the presence and form of Yves Bissouma, who was first choice as the defensive lynchpin of Brighton’s midfield last season, but has been linked with a move away from Sussex.

Liam Delap (Manchester City)

Liam Delap (left)

The departure of Sergio Aguero means that as it stands, Manchester City go into next season with Gabriel Jesus as their only recognised centre-forward.

Pep Guardiola obviously has options, with Ferran Torres and Raheem Sterling both able to operate as a false nine, and could significantly boost their numbers if they turn their interest in Tottenham’s Harry Kane into a signed and sealed transfer.

Barring such a big move, though, they may turn to one of their own academy lads – 18-year-old striker Liam Delap.

Signed from Derby in 2018, the son of former Stoke player Rory scored 24 times in 20 Under-23 games last season, netted his first senior goal in a Carabao Cup third-round win over Bournemouth and made his Premier League bow.

It is not often that a young player breaks through into one of the truly elite Premier League clubs, especially a striker – but if Delap can, it could prove a very cost-effective masterstroke.

Amad Diallo (Manchester United)

Amad Diallo

Manchester United spent the best part of two years trying to prise Jadon Sancho away from Borussia Dortmund, but their best bit of recent business could prove to be the £19m they paid Atalanta for winger Amad Diallo last January.

“One of the most exciting young prospects in the game” was how United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer described the 19-year-old Ivorian at the time and he has already shown flashes of this.

Quick, skilful, and direct with good vision, he could prove to be a nightmare for Premier League defenders.

He has competition in wide attacking areas, but with four competitions in which to compete, his opportunities at Old Trafford will surely come.

He is not the only promising young player at United either, with 18-year-old midfielder Hannibal Mejbri and 17-year-old Shola Shoretire among a crop of talented teens.

Cody Drameh (Leeds)

Cody Drameh

Under Marcelo Bielsa’s management, Leeds are developing a reputation as a side who offer a clearer pathway to first-team football than most in the English top flight.

More than 10 Under-23 players have made their debut during the Argentine’s reign and 19-year-old Cody Drameh – an August 2020 signing from Fulham – could be next.

He has rivals in the shape of forwards Joe Gelhardt and Sam Greenwood, and recently acquired midfielder Lewis Bate, but Drameh is better placed than most.

As a right-back, his pathway is clearer, with only Luke Ayling in front of him, although the versatile Stuart Dallas is also an option for the role.

Drameh also comes into this campaign with the club’s Under-23 player of the year award on his mantelpiece after helping them to promotion to the first division with 21 appearances full of dynamism and drive.

Harvey Elliott (Liverpool)

Harvey Elliott

It feels like Harvey Elliott has been around for a while now, but that is mainly because he made his Premier League debut for Fulham aged 16 years and 30 days.

Full of huge promise, Liverpool signed him in July 2019 and have spent the following years honing him for regular first-team action.

Now, after a successful loan spell at Blackburn last season, in which he registered seven goals and 11 assists in 42 games, he may just be ready to step up.

Reds boss Jurgen Klopp has been making positive noises already this pre-season, with Elliott impressing deeper in midfield than his usual right-sided forward role.

At some point, Klopp needs to start preparing for a future without first-choice forward trio Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane (now all 29), which opens the door for Elliott.

Billy Gilmour (Norwich, on loan from Chelsea)

Scotland midfielder Billy Gilmour has specifically moved this summer in order to take the next step towards becoming a Premier League regular.

Having impressed for his country at Euro 2020 following a handful of promising displays in the middle of Chelsea’s midfield the season before, the 20-year-old now needs top-flight minutes under his belt to try and deliver on his undoubted talent.

With elite trio Jorginho, N’Golo Kante and Mateo Kovacic in front of him in the Blues’ pecking order, he has made the temporary move to newly promoted Norwich.

The Canaries have a forward-thinking coach in Daniel Farke and a suitable hole in the middle of the park to fill with Oliver Skipp – more on him in a bit – having returned to Tottenham following his own successful loan spell last season.

If Gilmour can make a sizable improvement on the 11 first-team appearances he managed in 2019-20, it will be a big win for all parties involved.

Marc Guehi (Crystal Palace)

Marc Guehi

Marc Guehi is emblematic of a changing of the guard at Crystal Palace, from the mature, experienced squad under Roy Hodgson to a younger one with burgeoning promise led by Patrick Vieira.

Regarded as one of the most promising centre-backs in the country, 21-year-old Guehi joined this summer from Chelsea for a fee believed to be about £18m and has not come to sit on the bench.

After two impressive loan spells at Swansea in the Championship, his playing time would have been limited at Stamford Bridge, but at Palace his combination of physical strength and technical ability fits the bill perfectly.

With a number of senior first-team figures having left the club, Guehi will line up alongside other young, promising recent recruits at Selhurst Park, including forward pair Jean-Philippe Mateta and Michael Olise.

Oliver Skipp (Tottenham)

Oliver Skipp

Oliver Skipp returned to Tottenham this summer from his loan spell at Norwich with 45 appearances under his belt, a goal and two assists to his name, a Championship winner’s medal in his pocket and a long list of rave reviews.

The Canaries would undoubtedly have liked to take him for another season to help them reacclimatise back to Premier League life. That Tottenham have not sanctioned such a move says a lot.

There is competition in the middle of the pitch at Spurs, but with a new boss in Nuno Espirito Santo providing everyone with a fresh start and an already impressive pre-season display under his belt against Colchester, Skipp is primed.

At 20, it is a big season for him and a golden chance to add significantly to his 15 Premier League appearances to date.

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