Image: liverpoolfc.com

As the COVID-19 pandemic stretches its deadly reaches to all four corners of the globe, it is growing increasingly more likely that the Premier League season will not continue.

As the global community enters into an unprecedented social and economic landscape, sport will take a back seat on the public’s priority list.

Rather than focus on the negative stories around the sporting world, it felt best to focus more on the good we have seen this season and show appreciation to the showcase of epic proportions our footballers put on for us this season.

With the Premier League’s end-of-season awards unlikely to go ahead, it felt right to anoint my own unofficial winner of each award in the coming days.

Today’s edition is for the Young Player of the Season.

As many clubs enter a transitional period this season, it has allowed for clubs to turn to their young players and esteemed academies rather than invest in big money. No team has capitalised on their youth system better this season then Chelsea, a club famous for producing fantastic footballers, with one of the most successful youth teams in the country, that is equally as famous for ignoring its youth prospects as it is for its success.

As such, two of Chelsea’s young superstars take their place alongside some of the competitions best young players on the nominations list, which is as follows;

Mason Mount – Chelsea

Tammy Abraham – Chelsea

James Maddison – Leicester

Trent Alexander-Arnold – Liverpool

Jack Grealish – Aston Villa

Marcus Rashford – Manchester United

So who, out of these fine nominees, should win the award

Mason Mount – Chelsea

For Chelsea and Mason Mount, a pre-season transfer ban served as a blessing in disguise. With an inability to sign any new players, Chelsea turned to their talented crop of young players to guide them to European football and wow have they delivered.

Having previously worked under Frank Lampard at Derby County last season, where he managed 11 goals and 6 assists in 45 games. Mount looked increasingly more likely to build on his start to professional football, with 6 goals and 5 assists in his first 29 Premier League matches, an impressive return for a talented footballer.

It has not just been Mount’s attacking prowess that has impressed all who have watched him, it has been his ability to mould his game to fit the match situation, as well as his relentless pressing that has proved to be vital to the way Lampard wants Chelsea to play.

Having played in variety of systems and positions, Mount has seamlessly transitioned into all positions and played just as well as either a left-winger (3 games), central midfield (7 games) and attacking midfield (19 games). It has been an impressive start to life in the Premier League for Mason Mount, one that he will only build on in years to come, and one that has made him a worthy nominee for Young Player of the Year.

Tammy Abraham – Chelsea

Another member of the impressive young core at Chelsea, Tammy Abraham has been a key to their success this season and proven his ability to score goals in the Championship could be transferred to the Premier League.

The 22-year old young Englishmen is another one of Chelsea’s young stars who transitioned into the Premier League with a certain ease, even with injury disruptions towards the tail end of the campaign. Abraham’s 13 goals and 4 assists this season in 25 games has him ranked equal 6th in the League for goals and second in the goals scored by u23 players this season.

With Olivier Giroud and Michy Batshuayi not providing competition for Abraham, with 3 league goals combined, the pressure mounted on Abraham to become Chelsea’s chief goal scorer instantly, and with 7 of his league goals coming in the first 5 games, including a hat-trick against Wolves, Abraham has more then delivered.

Abraham has impressed many not only with ability to score a variety of goals, but also his tremendous pace, poise on the ball and most notably, his ability to hold the ball up and link up with his fellow attackers, whether it be Mount or Willian, Abraham’s flicks and subtle touches have proved pivotal to Chelsea’s attack this season, particularly when they aim to break quickly.

James Maddison – Leicester City

A natural attacking midfield with fantastic set-piece ability, James Maddison has improved tremendously on his game this season after his breakout campaign last year. In 28 games this season Maddison has scored 6 goals and laid on 3 assists for his team-mates, but much like Mason Mount, Maddison has impressed not just with his attacking output, but also the improvements made in his overall game this season.

Maddison’s defensive contributions this season, with his 1.8 tackles a game a slight improved on the 1.6/game her averaged in the 2018/19 season. Much like 2018/19 Maddison has been asked by new manager Brendan Rodgers to play across multiple positions and in multiple systems. Whether it be on the left of midfield, in a more advanced role or in the centre of midfield, Maddison has impressed all those who have watched him this season.

A multi-faceted midfielder who is just as skilled with the ball as without, just as potent from long range as short and a threat from any dead ball situation anywhere on the pitch. James Maddison’s sophomore season has been arguably more impressive than his breakout year in the Premier League, and he will only continue to improve as he ages.

Trent Alexander-Arnold – Liverpool

It has been incredible to see the meteoric rise of Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold over the last three seasons. From promising central-midfield in youth football to one of the world’s best right-backs, Trent, as Liverpool fans so affectionately call him, is one of the most influential footballers in the world.

His ability to create from both deeper and more advanced positions has seen the young fullback muster up 12 assists so far this season, equalling his own record for single-season assists by a Premier League defender and setting him on the path to convincingly break his own record. Trent’s crossing ability is of particular note, specifically from deeper positions, however, his long-ball ability is one of his greatest assets, with his long cross-field balls to Mane a common feature of Liverpool’s games.

Like his team, Trent was on-track for a record-breaking season, who knows how many assists he would have finished on this season. His offensive threat, particularly the creative side of his play, has seen Trent himself as one of Liverpool’s more influential players, as well as one of the best fullbacks in world football.

Jack Grealish – Aston Villa

In his 7th year as a professional footballer, Aston Villa captain, Jack Grealish, has proved that his rise amongst the ranks has been nothing short of remarkable. Despite Aston Villa sitting firmly in the relegation zone, Grealish has propelled himself to the top of the young footballer ranks this season.

With 7 goals and 6 assists in 26 games this season, Grealish leads Villa in both goals and assists this season, having also, like the two other midfielders in the nominees list, played across a variety of positions this season.

The burden of captaincy is not one that appears to hinder Grealish’s ability, as he has captained Villa 25 times this season and has produced in all the games. Grealish has led Aston Villa’s charge to remain in the Premier League this season, and a mixture of misfortunate and inability has seen that despite Grealish’s efforts, it looks increasingly more likely that Aston Villa will make a return to the Championship next season.

Despite Villa’s poor fortunes, Grealish’s impeccable performances this season have put him in the shop window as well as in the conversation for Young Player of the Year.

Marcus Rashford – Manchester United 

After the departure of Romelu Lukaku to Inter Milan prior to this season, Manchester United were in dire need of goal scorers heading into an uncertain season. United’s answer to this?

Their starboy Marcus Rashford. Rashford, who has never before had the burden of being the clubs primary goalscorer, took the challenge running and has delivered on his goal scoring promise, with 14 goals and 4 assists in 22 matches this season proving to be his best record yet.

Injury may have plagued the back-end of Rashfords season, with the young forward missing the last seven league matches with a back injury, but that did not stop Rashford from asserting himself as one of football’s premier young forwards. Despite only starting 6 of his 22 league games as a striker this season, Rashfords 14 goal haul is the highest of any player at the club, 3 more than French forward Anthony Martial.

Goals against Manchester City and Liverpool as well as braces against Spurs and Chelsea has seen Rashford launch from a flashy yet inconsistent goal scorer into a forward who you would trust to grab you 20 goals a season. It has been a truly impressive display from Rashford this season, and one that many fans will hope he can build off.

THE WINNER

All the above candidates are deserving of the award in their own right. Do you choose Mason Mount or Tammy Abraham, who have led Chelsea to a European place that was deemed unlikely prior to the season?

Do you choose James Maddison, who has proved to be one of Leicester most valuable players as they announce themselves as one of English footballs top dogs once again. Or do you choose TAA, a vital cog in Liverpool’s bid for their maiden Premier League title.

How about Jack Grealish, whose performances have ensured Aston Villa aren’t glued to the bottom of the table. There is no fair way to determine the winner, as some players teams are more successful, whilst other’s teams languish in the relegation battle, but in the end, there is only one player who deserves it above all others.

That player is Trent Alexander-Arnold. At only 20 years Alexander-Arnold is one of the best right-backs in the world and one of the game’s most dangerous attacking fullbacks. 2 goals and an incredible 12 assists this season in a side that is 25 points clear and on its way to the most resounding title victory in Premier League history.

Alexander-Arnold’s importance to Liverpool cannot be understated, and with the young defender on his way to a record-breaking assist total this season, there can be no doubt about it, Trent Alexander-Arnold is the deserved winner of the Premier League’s Young Player of the Year award.