Between players such as Dean Henderson, Adama Traore, Mason Mount, Caglar Soyuncu, and Mason Greenwood, the 2019/2020 Premier League season saw many different players burst onto the scene.
Whether due to injuries in the side, a weakness in the side that gives younger players a chance, or simply just a marked improvement from previous years, some players take advantage of the opportunities presented to them and become household names.
Often, these breakout performers ultimately produce a massive impact for their sides. Without Greenwood’s contributions late in the season, Manchester United probably wouldn’t have beat Leicester City for a top 4 finish, while Soyuncu’s team-of-the-season worthy displays placed Leicester in the position to compete for that milestone in the first place!
Now, we can look forward to the 2020/2021 season and start envisioning which players will suddenly become of the talk of the town. Here, we look at 11 who could become this season’s breakout players:
Heavily rumoured to join Wolves, Maitland-Niles staked his claim in the Arsenal side with a MOTM performance in the Community Shield against Liverpool. Whether as a hybrid defender-midfielder in Arteta’s side or as Matt Doherty’s potential replacement, the 23-year old should take the next step this season. His pace and power are unquestioned and it now seems that he’s piecing together the smaller tactical aspects of the game to become one of the better players in the league.
The Brighton centre-back has been a rumoured target for an array of Premier League sides this season. White starred last year in the centre of defence for Leeds, who have aimed desperately to sign him permanently. Graham Potter has held firm on keeping the academy graduate, recently signing him to a long-term contract. This season could be a springboard for him to join an elite club such as Liverpool or Manchester City in the coming years.
Jota isn’t an unknown figure amongst frequent Premier League viewers, but it’s easy to forget about him at Wolves amidst the performances of Adama Traore, Raul Jimenez, Ruben Neves, etc. The Portuguese international only notched 7 goals last season, but his impact on the side is much greater than what shows on the stats sheet. Look for him to double that goal tally this season, while also providing the hard yards in Nuno Esperito Santo’s committed side as they again compete in the Europa League.
Many will credit Southampton’s mid-season revival last season to Danny Ings’ goal-scoring record—and deservedly so—but the improvement in defence spearheaded by Bednarek’s contributions were just as important. Up to their historic 9-0 loss to Leicester City in late October, the Saints were giving up 2.5 goals per game and were entrenched in the relegation zone. Bednarek took command of a backline that allowed just 1.25 goals per game thereafter, leading the Saints to an 11th place finish. At just 24 years old, the Polish defender has all the tools to emerge into one of the league’s strongest defenders and earn a move to a bigger side if he so chooses, a la Harry Maguire or Nathan Ake.
Along with White, Phillips was one of Leeds United’s standout performers in their Championship-winning season. Without doing anything overly extravagant, the 24-year old is the metronome that controls proceedings for Marcelo Bielsa’s side. Despite never featuring in the Premier League, his performances earned him a call-up to Gareth Southgate’s England squad. If Leeds live up to the hype surrounding their return to the Premier League after 16 years in lower divisions, count on Phillips to serve as the figurehead of the team’s success and to earn the subsequent praise that would follow.
Another standout for a promoted side, Pereira was the orchestrator of West Brom’s return to the top flight. He offers the Brazilian flair that the Premier League is seemingly missing, with dazzling close control, dribbling abilities, and passing range. The 24-year old will be one of the most eye-catching players to watch in the league this season due to his technical ability, but his 8 goals and 16 assists in the league last year show that he has the final product to match his creativity. You can reasonably expect him to be this year’s Adama Traore or Allan Saint-Maximin.
If Pereira is to be this year’s Saint-Maximin, then Maupay could be this year’s Danny Ings. Although I don’t necessarily see Maupay eclipsing the 20-goal mark, the French striker has become a consistent name on the team sheet. With Graham Potter having another season to instil his more attacking playing style, Maupay should have more goal-scoring opportunities. He scored a solid 10 goals for Brighton last season and it would be reasonable to up that to 15 this season.
To many, Foden has already broken out, developing into an important member of the City side following the restart. With David Silva moving on, this could really be the season that the 20-year old (yes he’s still that young) becomes one of the league’s most dynamic midfielders. With the perfect balance of incisive dribbling and defensive work rate to complement the attacking prowess of Kevin de Bruyne and tactical discipline of Rodri in the City midfield, Foden is the perfect fit in Pep Guardiola’s system.
Brewster impressed in the second half of last season on loan at Swansea, scoring 11 goals in 22 appearances. Now back at Liverpool, the 20-year old has an opportunity to earn significant playing time. Behind their esteemed front three, Liverpool have doubts about their squad depth in attack with Divock Origi, Xherdan Shaqiri, and Harry Wilson all facing uncertainty over their reliability and futures. More likely, Brewster will get loaned to a side in need of an attacking option such as Sheffield United where he will get consistent minutes and have the chance to stake a permanent stake in the side, similar to Dean Henderson last season.
Speaking of Sheffield United, one of the feel-good stories of last season was how Chris Wilder inspired a team that was the oddsmakers’ favourites to get relegated to a comfortable 9h place finish. The club broke their transfer record to sign Berge in the winter and the Norwegian midfielder took no time settling into life in England. Many thought Berge was set for a move to a bigger club prior to his move to Sheffield and he now has the chance to build on last season’s success. If Berge continues his development, Wilder may have trouble staving off interest from bigger sides for much longer.
Lamptey was given an opportunity to make the right fullback position for Brighton his after the restart, and he did just that. Just 19, the England youth international possesses a scary amount of pace but also has defensive understanding beyond his years. Alongside club captain and stalwart Lewis Dunk and the aforementioned Ben White in defence, Lamptey also has the support that will allow him to expand his attacking abilities. Lamptey could end up emerging in a similar manner that Aaron Wan-Bissaka did for Crystal Palace a few seasons ago.