Top 5: PL Young Player of the Season picks

With all Premier League clubs having just two or three games left to play, the time has come to pick the Premier League’s Young Player of the Season award once again.

Top 5: PL Young Player of the Season picks

The full list of nominees is as follows: Phil Foden, Erling Haaland, Kobbie Mainoo, Alexander Isak, Cole Palmer, Bukayo Saka, William Saliba and Destiny Udogie.

Some have more experience than others. Notably, 24-year-old Alexander Isak has made 247 appearances in his career already, while at the other end of the spectrum, 19-year-old Kobbie Mainoo only made his first Manchester United start in November.

Depending on the panel involved, less experienced players may thus be viewed with greater favour if their achievements in 2023/24 are significant. With that taken into account, here are our top five.

Kobbie Mainoo is already an England international – Photo by Icon Sport

#5: Kobbie Mainoo

The youngest player on this list, Kobbie Mainoo has been a rare bright spot for Manchester United this season.

At just 19, Mainoo is already United’s best midfielder on the ball, and has run the Red Devils’ buildup single-handedly at times, with players like Casemiro drastically declining this season.

He has had the end product too, with goals against Wolves and Liverpool standing out as memorable.

With a maturity beyond his years, it is no surprise that Mainoo is one of the few players Manchester United won’t consider offers for this summer.

Cole Palmer has stepped into the spotlight this season, and shone – Photo by Icon Sport

#4: Cole Palmer

Still only 22 years old, Cole Palmer started the season as he meant to go on.

While still a Manchester City player, the attacker was substituted on against Arsenal in the Community Shield and cut in from the right to score a stunning opener.

But within a month, Palmer had swapped the light blue of Manchester for the royal blue of London.

Chelsea have endured another poor season, though they are improving in these late weeks of the season.

But Palmer has been utterly incredible. He had only one Premier League assist when he moved to west London, but has since added another nine and scored 20 goals.

His critics will cite his eight penalties as inflating his goal scoring. But anyone who has watched Chelsea will attest that the young man from Wythenshawe has very quickly become the Blues main man.

Bukayo Saka has stepped up again – Photo by Icon Sport

#3: Bukayo Saka

Last season’s Young Player of the Season winner, Bukayo Saka will be disappointed to have missed out on the full Player of the Season award nominees list, but he now has the chance to win his second YPOTS in a row.

Saka has continued his steady upward trajectory, adding new skills to his arsenal.

He has scored 16 goals, and assisted a further nine, as the 22-year-old leads his boyhood club in a second successive title challenge.

Saka is an incredibly well-rounded player. His right foot is almost as good as his left.

He can score from near or far, consistently leaves players for dead, is physically robust and has a variety of passes too, from incisive through balls and combination play to deadly whipped crosses to the back post.

Foden could be PL Young Player of the Season
Phil Foden is reaching Kevin de Bruyne's level – Photo by Icon Sport

#2: Phil Foden

Already the Football Writers’ Association Player of the Year, Phil Foden could potentially make a clean sweep of the Premier League’s individual awards, as he is nominated for the full Player of the Season award too.

Foden has also won the PL’s Young Player of the Season award twice, doing so in 2020/21 and 2021/22.

And there is no denying how good the 23-year-old has been this season. With three games left to play, Foden has 16 Premier League goals, and eight assists, both career bests.

He has taken up the mantle of being Manchester City’s main man, particularly when Kevin de Bruyne has been unavailable. There is no better evidence of this than Foden's increased midfield minutes this season.

Foden has scored two league hat-tricks this season too, against Aston Villa and Brentford.

William Saliba is already a world class defender – Photo by Icon Sport

#1: William Saliba

At the back for Arsenal, centre-back William Saliba has been at the heart of the Gunners’ rock-solid defence.

Along with his warrior-like partner, Gabriel, Arsenal have set the standard for defensive solidity. They have only conceded 28 goals this season – five better than Manchester City’s 33. 

Faster and stronger than pretty much every forward, Saliba is maturing into one of the world’s best defenders. He is physically incredible too, but what makes Saliba really special is that he rarely even has to lean on his physical gifts to get the job done.

He is outstanding with the ball too. A misplaced pass from the Frenchman is a collector’s item, and he is impossible to press anyway, with deceptive light feet for a man of 6ft4in.

In short, Saliba is the perfect example of a ‘Rolls Royce’ of a footballer, and our tip to scoop Young Player of the Season.

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William Evans

William Evans is a football and politics fanatic. A first-class graduate of UEA's Broadcast and Digital Journalism MA course, he also achieved a first class degree in politics and media studies during his time at UEA.