This little bunch all started Premier League games at the weekend but we will be astonished if they are doing the same in September…
Carney Chukwuemeka (Chelsea)
As a 19-year-old with fewer than 30 Premier League appearances to your name, there are probably few managers you would rather see in the dug-out than Mauricio Pochettino, but there is little doubt that Chukwuemeka will not be starting in Chelsea’s midfield by the first weekend of September, with Moises Caicedo and possibly Romeo Lavia on their incredibly expensive way.
The former Villa midfielder is not in direct competition with Caicedo and Lavia, but he is in direct competition with Conor Gallagher, who may well retain his Chelsea place in a more advanced role, particularly after doing rather a lot of his trademark scampering against Liverpool. And he does scamper ever so well. The future is bright for Chukwuemeka but we would be astonished if he makes it past 10 Premier League starts this season.
Cody Gakpo (Liverpool)
We’re impressed by his versatility but the draw with Chelsea on Sunday (read 16 Conclusions here) illustrated neatly that he is not a Premier League central midfielder. It also illustrated neatly that Alexis Mac Allister is not a defensive midfielder for an elite football club but we kind of knew that already.
With Liverpool chasing hard for a defensive midfielder, the odd man out is surely Gakpo, who will return to one of those rotated roles in two-thirds of the front three along with Darwin Nunez, Diogo Jota and Luis Diaz. The latter seems to be ahead of the rest of the pack on the left, so Gakpo could find himself in a three-way fight for the chance to spearhead this faltering attack.
Son Heung-Min (Tottenham)
Tottenham are not chasing a new left-sided forward, though Son’s performance on Sunday suggests that perhaps they should. But they do need a striker, and that would surely mean that Richarlison – who struggled as the attacking fulcrum at Brentford – will revert to the left in a supporting role.
After easily the worst season of Son’s lengthy and oft-brilliant Spurs career, the early signs are that the 31-year-old might struggle to regain his form. Nobody was surprised to see him hauled off on Sunday and nobody should be surprised if he is not in the starting line-up at all by September.
Dan Burn (Newcastle United)
As much as we have thoroughly enjoyed the footballer who most looks like a centre-half doing his damnedest to be an effective full-back, it can only be a matter of time before Newcastle bring in an actual left-back, with links to Kieran Tierney and Marc Cucurella among the most persistent.
As excellent as he was against Aston Villa, that still looks like a real area of attacking weakness and leaves a lot of pressure on Kieran Trippier to create from his side of the pitch. Burn will provide fabulous back-up at left-back and in central defence but Newcastle’s second step towards world domination should probably feature the boyhood fan in a supporting role.
Pablo Fornals (West Ham United)
David Moyes made only one change from the Europa Conference final when he named his starting line-up for the opening game of the Premier League season: Fornals for Declan Rice. With James Ward-Prowse now a Hammer after his £30m move from Southampton, we would be astonished if the Spaniard is not demoted back to the bench.
His real hope is that Manchester City match Lucas Paqueta’s asking price and that creates another opening in the West Ham midfield, though Mohammed Kudus is the current favourite to replace the Brazilian.
“He’s probably not had enough minutes and I’ve found it difficult to find him [some]” said Moyes of his “brilliant, brilliant team player” last season. Now’s your chance, fella.
Neal Maupay (Everton)
Everton have to find a way to get an injury-free, experienced goalscorer through the door. Neal Maupay is not a goalscorer; Dominic Calvert-Lewin is almost never injury-free; new signing Youssef Chermiti has played 22 senior games and scored three goals. Frenchman Maupay got the nod v Fulham by default but four shots (three on-target) resulted in no goals. His inclusion usually results in no goals.
There is talk of Beto and there is talk of Hugo Ekitike, and there will be serious talk of relegation of Maupay is still starting up front for Everton in September.