Arsenal – Eddie Nketiah
“Nketiah needs to get games under his belt to develop. In the next two or three years, he needs to play 30 games for a club, and he’s not going to do that at Arsenal.”
So said former Gunners captain Tony Adams after Saturday’s FA Cup win at Blackpool, pointing to the success of Reiss Nelson at Hoffenheim so far this season.
The 19-year-old Nketiah had just started for the third time this season and has clearly outgrown Premier League 2 football, having managed as many goals as starts (7) this season for the under-23s. Most sides in the Championship would surely find room for him.
Bournemouth – Jack Simpson
An England U21 international despite having only played three cup matches for Bournemouth at the time of his international bow, the left-footed centre-back has impressed scouts country-wide and been linked with Steven Gerrard’s Rangers numerous times.
With the European Under-21 Championship on the horizon, and limited opportunities at the Vitality Stadium, it would be beneficial for the Weymouth-born defender to get more playing time under his belt between now and May.
Brighton – Viktor Gyokeres
Brighton’s expansive venture into Nordic football has brought players from Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland to their development squad over the past year, and it’s Swedish winger Gyokeres who has impressed the most.
He made almost 70 appearances for Brommapojkarna’s first team before swapping Stockholm for Sussex a year ago, and has since helped the Seagulls win promotion to the top division of Premier League 2 football, where they now sit third in national title contention.
Gyokeres is far too good to be plying his trade at that level, and debuted for Chris Hughton’s senior team at Bournemouth in the FA Cup. Now he needs more opportunities at a higher level.
Burnley – Dan Agyei
A London boy who joined Burnley from Wimbledon in 2015, Agyei is no stranger to life on loan, having spent time with Coventry, Walsall and Blackpool in three different cracks at League One.
He’s still only 21, and the Clarets opted to take a more patient approach with him this season – rewarded with 13 goals in 20 appearances for the U23s before Christmas. Anyone seeking promotion to the Championship would be well-advised to take another look at a forward coming into his own and far more prepared to succeed in the professional game now.
Chelsea – Luke McCormick
Chelsea’s vast loan network stretches from Bruges and Burton to Turin and Tenerife, though the rising stars of Tammy Abraham, Fikayo Tomori, Mason Mount and Reece James in the Championship demonstrate that there is plenty of logic in getting into senior football at the earliest opportunity.
McCormick was born 11 days after Mount and played in the same team as the Derby midfielder for over 10 years, but is still to get a first taste of senior football. Tenacious in the tackle, confident in possession and a willing forward runner, he ought to interest Football League managers looking for an injection of midfield quality this window.
Crystal Palace – Nya Kirby
After Timothy Eyoma’s Tottenham debut last week, 11 of the 18 outfield players in England’s victorious U17 World Cup-winning squad have now made their senior bow.
Kirby is one of seven still waiting, and the timing at Crystal Palace is hardly ideal given Roy Hodgson’s struggles. The midfielder turns 19 at the end of the month and, with Blackpool and Charlton both reportedly interested in a January loan, a temporary new home makes sense for all parties.
Everton – Ademola Lookman
When Lookman debuted for Everton in January 2017, catching the eye with a stunning late goal as the Toffees beat Manchester City 4-0 at Goodison Park, the then-19-year-old was making his 50th senior appearance following a long run in the Charlton team before his £10m move to Merseyside.
He earned his first start the following month but has only made 17 in the two years since, seven of which came during a half-season loan in the Bundesliga at RB Leipzig. As Marco Silva rebuilds Everton in his image, it seems the Wandsworth-born winger may have to continue his development elsewhere for the time being.
Fulham – Luca De La Torre
Slavisa Jokanovic’s departure from Craven Cottage was a blow for Fulham’s prolific academy. The Serbian called upon several graduates of their Motspur Park setup during his reign, including American midfielder De La Torre, who even scored his first professional goal in September’s League Cup victory at Millwall.
Claudio Ranieri, however, has a relegation battle to fight and De La Torre will have to look elsewhere for a chance to shine. With 18 months left on his deal, a decision now will prepare him for the next stage of his career.
Huddersfield – Demeaco Duhaney
The Terriers are doing things differently at youth level these days. Following in Brentford’s footsteps by eschewing the traditional academy system, they instead run an operation from U17 level upwards, which features the formation of an Elite Development Team that takes players released by other clubs and continues their progress.
Duhaney is one such reclamation project, released last summer by Manchester City, but he could arguably have had his pick of lower-league clubs there and then. The tall and elegant defender boasts the versatility to play anywhere across the back, and should be leaving youth football behind to show the adult world what he has to offer.