The Premier League is set to progress into the second half of the 2022-23 season and with that, the timing feels right to access the young players who have impressed for their clubs.
Here, we rank the five-best players aged 21 or younger who have placed highly in PFF's metrics and played a minimum of 500 minutes.
1. Bukayo Saka, 21, Arsenal
It should come as no surprise that Bukayo Saka tops this list. He is in the conversation for the Top Under-21 players in world football, not just the Premier League.
He has been a creative force for the league leaders this year, second only to Kevin De Bruyne in assists with 7, while being sixth in line-breaking pass attempts among wingers.
Saka has also been a threat when keeping the ball at his feet, ranking in the top 10 in the entire league in possessions inside the opposition penalty area (88) and tied for eighth — with his teammate Gabriel Jesus & Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford — in terms of completed dribbles with 30.
2. Gabriel Martinelli, 21, Arsenal
Together with Saka, Martinelli has formed a formidable young wing combination which has been crucial to the Gunners’ title push. Martinelli has profiled more as a finishing foil to Saka’s creativity, ranking tied-10th for goals scored on the season so far with 7 — two goals shy of Miguel Almiron who leads all wingers on 9.
Martinelli is also top five in terms of receiving passes that break the defensive line, ranking close to players like Liverpool attacking duo Darwin Nunez and Mohammed Salah.
The Brazilian does share Saka’s threat level on the ball, being one of only five players with 100+ possessions in the opposition box while also completing 52% of his dribbles, the only player with more than 60 attempts to manage that feat out of four qualifiers — Wilfried Zaha, Said Benrahma (both 49%), Leon Bailey (45%).
— PFF FC (@PFF_FC) January 16, 2023
3. Moises Caciedo, 21, Brighton & Hove Albion
The Ecuadorian midfielder has done it all for a Brighton side that is pushing for European qualification. He has shown comfort on the ball, ranking in the top five in both total passes completed and line-breaking passes completed among central midfielders.
But Caciedo is clearly not afraid to get his hands dirty, too, also ranking top five in challenges won by central midfielders with 110, excelling in winning 50-50 balls, tied-1st with Declan Rice for most 50-50s won in the entire league. It’s no surprise that rumors are swirling around him of a move to a bigger club, either in January or the summer.
4. Amadou Onana, 21, Everton
The Belgian midfielder has been a bright spot in an otherwise dismal season for Everton under Frank Lampard. His defensive work has shone, among central midfielders his 56% win rate in tackles is 1st among central midfielders involved in more than 20 this season.
Onana also been an effective presence in the air, ranking as a top-10 midfielder in aerial duels won. His work rate has been excellent also, as one of only 20 midfielders to apply 500+ pressures to opposition players.
If Everton continue to struggle, look for teams to swoop for Onana.
5. Levi Colwill, 19, Brighton & Hove Albion
At 19, the Chelsea loanee has looked unflustered as a starter in Brighton's last five league games, ranking 1st in average challenge win-rate (61.4%) compared to fellow defenders Lewis Dunk (59.4%) and Pervis Estupinan (39.8%).
Colwill may not have played close to the minutes (509) that other contenders for this list have but he has repaid the faith shown by Roberto De Zerbi, also displaying good pass progression ability completing 16 of 19 line-breaking passes in the recent win over Liverpool — only Moises Caicedo completed more (17/20).