Opinion

The six PFA Young Player of the Year candidates - ranked

Ross Jackson
Phil Foden is one of the six nominees
Phil Foden is one of the six nominees / Pool/Getty Images
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Picking out the best young player in the Premier League over an entire season is tricky business.

There's a whole host of factors to be considered, such as did they really play enough games to warrant the award? Were they helped out by the senior players in their respective squads? And did their performances actually help the team meet their season goals?

You see, it's not as easy as you think.

The PFA recently announced the nominees for their annual award, with Trent Alexander-Arnold, Declan Rice, Mason Mount, Phil Foden, Bukayo Saka and Phil Foden all in contention, and 90min has ranked them in order of who we think is most worthy of recognition.


6. Trent Alexander-Arnold

Trent Alexander-Arnold celebrates against Tottenham
Trent Alexander-Arnold celebrates against Tottenham / Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

Right, we're going to sweep this one straight under the carpet and assume the PFA accidentally left his name on the list from last season's nominations.

Trent Alexander-Arnold? Like...what?

Granted we should be assessing his performances this season individually and not comparing them to his stellar 2019/20 campaign, but even then he's not been particularly fantastic.

The fact Chelsea right-back Reece James hasn't made it onto the list makes Alexander-Arnold's inclusion all the more baffling and we're just going to move swiftly on before we get anymore annoyed.


5. Mason Greenwood

Mason Greenwood came into form at the end of the season
Mason Greenwood came into form at the end of the season / Pool/Getty Images

At the beginning of April Mason Greenwood had scored one Premier League goal. One. Uno. Un. And as far as we're aware this isn't called the PFA Young Player of the Last Two Months of the Season award.

The Manchester United man enjoyed a stellar end to the campaign as he scored six in six games to help strengthen the Red Devils' grip on second place, but we're not allowing a flurry of late goals to cloud or judgement.

These awards should be given to players who have performed consistently over the entire season and Greenwood didn't do that.


4. Declan Rice

Declan Rice celebrates against Southampton
Declan Rice celebrates against Southampton / Pool/Getty Images

Now that's a bit more like it.

Declan Rice was very unlucky to pick up an injury late on in the season, and if he'd been fit for West Ham's run-in they might just have had enough to make the top four - then it becomes a whole new ball game.

As it is, he can still be pleased with both his and his club's campaign as they secured a place in the Europa League and people are suddenly beginning to see where all the hype surrounding him has come from.

The England international wasn't quite at the level of some of the other players on the shortlist but he's certainly worthy of his place among the six nominees.


3. Phil Foden

Phil Foden enjoyed his best season yet in professional football
Phil Foden enjoyed his best season yet in professional football / Gareth Fuller - Pool/Getty Images

Probably weren't expecting to see Phil Foden's name so soon on this list, were you?

We're not going to overlook the role the Manchester City starlet played in his side's Premier League triumph, but once again we're left looking at just how much football he actually played.

The best young player in the Premier League having started less than half of his side's Premier League games? Not for us when you consider the consistency shown by some of the other nominees.

If you were to watch highlight reels of all six candidates then Foden probably comes out on top, but you need more than that to be named the PFA Young Player of the Year.


2. Bukayo Saka

Bukayo Saka is arguably Arsenal's most important player now
Bukayo Saka is arguably Arsenal's most important player now / Pool/Getty Images

Now here's a man who ticks a lot of the required boxes when it comes to consistency and the impact he had on his side.

To cement your place in the starting XI of one of the biggest sides in the country - which is exactly what Arsenal are regardless of how rubbish they've been recently - and become their most important player in the space of about a season is mightily impressive stuff.

There's a few players on this list who you could honestly say didn't really impact their side's final league standing that much, but who knows where Arsenal would have finished without Bukayo Saka.

The teenager bagged five goals and four assists for the Gunners this season and is already looking like he needs to be a central figure in the club's rebuild.


1. Mason Mount

Mason Mount was integral to Chelsea' revival this season
Mason Mount was integral to Chelsea' revival this season / Chelsea Football Club/Getty Images

We honestly couldn't look any further than Mason Mount for the number one spot.

The Chelsea midfielder is similar to Saka in that he's come from out of nowhere to suddenly be his side's most influential player, yet while the Arsenal man is outshining players like Granit Xhaka, Mount is trumping players who arrived for about £50m.

The 'teacher's pet' tag has been well and truly thrown in the bin this season and the 22-year-old has helped drag his team into a Champions League spot with some stellar displays.

Even under Frank Lampard he was showcasing his immense ability - something very few members of the Chelsea squad managed to do - and were it not for his performances pre-Thomas Tuchel the Blues may have already been too far behind to make up ground on the top four.

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