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11 breakthrough Premier League stars to look out for in 2024 including record-breaking Arsenal ace & England wonderkid

LUKE LITTLER ended 2023 as sport’s top whizkid – but another 16-year-old is starting 2024 keen to show he’s the most promising one.

Arsenal playmaker Ethan Nwaneri is a whole two years younger than Manchester United‘s in-form midfielder Kobbie Mainoo – but perhaps only one small step behind him in development.

Kobbie Mainoo has bounced back in style from pre-season injuries

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Kobbie Mainoo has bounced back in style from pre-season injuriesCredit: Getty
Ethan Nwaneri has long been tipped as an Arsenal superstar of the future

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Ethan Nwaneri has long been tipped as an Arsenal superstar of the futureCredit: Getty

And these two Englishmen form just a small part of an exhilarating batch of young talents tipped to take giant leaps forward over the next 12 months.

The 11 players we’ve singled out below are backed for a breakthrough 2024 in the Premier League.

And nearly all of them are known for their creative rather than combative gifts.

Read on to see why there’s such excitement over the cream of the Prem’s next generation.

Kobbie Mainoo (Man Utd)

Red Devils‘ fans are raving over the maturity and all-round potential of the Under-19 international.

After finally recovering from a pre-season injury, the Academy product finished 2023 with a starting spot for United.

And if Mainoo maintains his current rate of progress, Gareth Southgate might even consider him for a place at Euro 2024.

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Amad Diallo (Manchester United)

The Ivory Coast winger, 21, is unlikely to make it at Old Trafford if he fails to thrive in the second half of this season.

And many supporters believe he has the pace and team ethic that Antony and outcast Jadon Sancho lack.

Diallo shone in the Championship last term but has once more been only a bit-part player with United under Erik ten Hag.

Two other factors stand against him – Alejandro Garnacho‘s emergence and the possibility of a transfer shake-up, assuming Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s 25% club takeover is ratified.

So a move of his own might be Diallo’s best hope for a transformational year.

Amad Diallo is bursting for a regular chance at Old Trafford

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Amad Diallo is bursting for a regular chance at Old TraffordCredit: Getty

Ethan Nwaneri (Arsenal)

The England Under-17 ace has caused a stir around the Emirates for a couple of years now.

His deft skills made him a double history-maker against Brentford in September 2022 – as the youngest player to appear for the Gunners and in the Prem.

And although boss Mikel Arteta is keen not to rush Nwaneri, the Spaniard has put the Londoner on the bench for some big games this season as Arsenal bid for the title.

He should be known across the land by the end of 2024 – although he is still unlikely to be a first-team regular by then.

Ben Doak (Liverpool)

The Scotland Under-21 winger has impressed Anfield manager Jurgen Klopp with his confidence.

Doak, 18, signed from Celtic in 2022 and played two Prem matches for Liverpool in 2023, as well as a handful of Europa League runouts.

Like Nwaneri, he could well be set for more for after next summer.

Ben Doak has used the Europa League to showcase his talents for Liverpool

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Ben Doak has used the Europa League to showcase his talents for LiverpoolCredit: AP

Oscar Bobb (Man City)

The four-cap Norway winger, 20, has the ease in possession and range of passing that Pep Guardiola loves his players to show.

Having been at the Etihad since 2019, Bobb‘s progress has arguably been held back by the explosive arrival of Belgium wideman Jeremy Doku.

But he can expect far more games, albeit off the bench, in the next few months – ahead of a 2024-25 campaign that could be pivotal for his City future.

Oscar Bobb faces stiff competition out wide at Man City via established internationals like Jack Grealish, Phil Foden and now Jeremy Doku

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Oscar Bobb faces stiff competition out wide at Man City via established internationals like Jack Grealish, Phil Foden and now Jeremy DokuCredit: Getty

Alfie Gilchrist (Chelsea)

If John Terry singles out a centre-back, you listen! And the England legend reckons Gilchrist is on course to make it at Stamford Bridge.

The Londoner, 20, has been with the Blues since he was eight yet only make his debut in their final two games of the year – coming off the bench in a 2-1 home win over Crystal Palace and a 3-2 triumph at Luton.

Those cameos showcased Gilchrist’s dogged style.

And there’s no better character reference than this one on Gilchrist from Chelsea icon Terry at a fans’ Q&A: “He’s got an unbelievable attitude. He performs so well on a daily basis.”

Alfie Gilchrist celebrates Prem victory at Luton as he ended 2023 by making his first two Prem appearances, both off the bench

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Alfie Gilchrist celebrates Prem victory at Luton as he ended 2023 by making his first two Prem appearances, both off the benchCredit: Getty

Alejo Veliz (Tottenham)

The Argentine could become a cult hero with his heading power and poaching instincts.

The Under-20 international striker arrived from top-flight home country club Rosario Central last summer for around £13million.

And his first main task will be to earn more starts as Spurs battle for a top-four finish.

He could be handed more opportunities with Son Heung-min jetting off to the Asian Cup.

Alejo Veliz hit Tottenham's first goal as Spurs lost to Brighton in their penultimate match of 2023

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Alejo Veliz hit Tottenham’s first goal as Spurs lost to Brighton in their penultimate match of 2023Credit: Getty

Jack Hinshelwood (Brighton)

The all-round midfielder, 18, ended his 2023 in perfect style – crashing the opener in a 4-2 defeat of Spurs.

And he could keep smashing it over the next year.

He was the Seagulls’ success story in the first half of this season, especially important following the record-breaking departure of Moises Caicedo to Chelsea.

And apart from his solid attributes, he has the type of genuine two-footed ability rarely seen at any level, as well as being able to slot in at centre-back.

Matheus Franca (Crystal Palace)

The Brazilian attacking midfielder or frontman, 19, has mainly been a sub since arriving last summer.

But Palace believe his workrate, dribbling skills and fox-in-the-box finishing will make him well worth the fee they paid Flamengo – which could rise to £22m.

Matheus Franca is tipped to emerge as a key Palace player

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Matheus Franca is tipped to emerge as a key Palace playerCredit: Alamy

Romeo Lavia (Chelsea)

The powerful Belgian anchorman, 19, was one of the few bright spots for Southampton in 2023 before they went down – sparking his £58m move to Chelsea.

A tidy passer and tough tackler, Lavia unfortunately sits behind nine-figure signings Caicedo and Enzo Fernandez in Mauricio Pochettino‘s midfield options.

But once he gets regular action at Stamford Bridge he will surely prove himself again in the Prem.

Romeo Lavia impressed in the Prem for Southampton and hopes to do the same for Chelsea when he gets more action

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Romeo Lavia impressed in the Prem for Southampton and hopes to do the same for Chelsea when he gets more actionCredit: Alamy

Tim Iroegbunam (Aston Villa)

The England Under-20 star could be both hindered and helped by Aston Villa‘s excellent first half to the campaign.

Unai Emery has shown he can get the best from his midfielders – which means Iroegbunam can expect to develop even faster, if he gets a regular chance.

The Midlander, 20, thrived on loan for QPR in the second tier last term.

Tim Iroegbunam is one of Villa's talented selection of young midfielders

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Tim Iroegbunam is one of Villa’s talented selection of young midfieldersCredit: Getty

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