Ten more deserving nominees than Kobbie Mainoo for Young Player of the Season

Will Ford
Gordon, Gallagher, Olise, Branthwaite
'Young Players' who missed out on a nomination.

The announcement of the Young Player of the Season contenders has resulted in the usual, and totally reasonable, irritation from fans as to why a player like Phil Foden, a key cog in Manchester City’s first team for the last four seasons, can still be up for the gong, along with a teammate who’s scored over 200 senior goals.

It should be Rookie of the Year, with only players in their first senior season eligible for the award. In which case, Kobbie Mainoo would indeed be deserving of his place among the eight nominees. But under the current guidelines, which state that any player aged 23 or under at the start of the season is in the running, Mainoo should be nowhere near.

He’s a very fine footballer and has had a handful of very good games, including some memorable moments, and we are well aware that Manchester United fans will be furious at any article denigrating his performances given they’ve got very little hope to cling onto. We’re not saying he’s been rubbish, just not as good – IN OUR OPINION – as these ten ‘youngsters’ who should have been selected ahead of him.

Honourable mentions for Conor Bradley, Pedro Porro, Adam Wharton, Simon Adingra, Pedro Neto, Rodrigo Muniz and Alfie Doughty who are unfortunate not to have made the cut.


Conor Gallagher (Chelsea)
He’s started all but one Premier League game for Chelsea, which he missed through suspension, captaining the team in the majority of them, and it feels like he’s sprinting and winning the ball back near enough the entire time. He’s got five goals and seven assists – a perfectly reasonable return for a midfielder whose finest work typically goes unnoticed or is underappreciated. He ranks fifth in the Premier League for ball recoveries (207) and third for tackles in the final third (16).

No player on Chelsea’s books cares more about or is prouder of playing for Chelsea, which makes his supposedly imminent sale for ‘pure profit’ feel all the more gut-wrenching.


Dominik Szoboszlai (Liverpool)
The £60m summer signing is a victim of recency bias, because if he had saved his stellar performances at the start of this campaign for the last three months or so, he would surely be among the nominees. Szoboszlai and his size 7s were causing all sorts of problems for opposition teams, as he drove through midfield unlike any player Liverpool have had in that role for a very long time, knuckle-balling shots past unsuspecting goalkeepers and in general looking well worth what was initially seen as quite the hefty outlay for his services.


Anthony Gordon (Newcastle)
We got him all wrong. He joins Ollie Watkins (G19, A12) and Mohamed Salah (G18, A10) in a group of just three Premier League players to have reached double figures for goals and assists so far this season, and perhaps even more notable than his ten goals and ten assists is the fact that 11 of those 20 goal contributions have come against teams currently in the top eight. He’s not just a very good footballer, but a very good, Big Game footballer.


Micky van de Ven (Tottenham)
Another player to suffer at the hands of recency bias. He’s not been great of late, embarrassing himself against Newcastle in particular, but everyone was quite rightly waxing lyrical about him at the start of the season, and Tottenham had vague hopes of a title challenge before his and James Maddison’s injuries in the chaotic defeat to Chelsea in November. Oh, and guys, we don’t know if you heard, but he’s quite quick.


Boubacar Kamara (Aston Villa)
Only Pau Torres (2.11) has more won more points per game for Aston Villa this season than Boubacar Kamara (2.05), who has made more tackles per 90 minutes (1.23) and more interceptions (1.14) than any of his teammates. Unai Emery’s side have won just half of the 12 games that Kamara’s missed with a knee injury, with their end-of-season decline correlating with his absence from the side.

Kamara’s snub on the basis of not playing enough would only make sense if the cut off was 21 Premier League starts, as Mainoo has, given the Frenchman has started 20 games this season.


Julian Alvarez (Manchester City)
We’re not sure whether it’s our negligence, Manchester City’s unrelenting brilliance, an obsession with their more in-your-face star players, or something else, but for some reason we have no memory of Julian Alvarez’s ten goals and nine assists in the Premier League. Perhaps more incredibly, somehow only Rodri (2667) has played more minutes than Alvarez (2651).

But him getting lost in the Pep Guardiola shuffle is on us. If he was getting those number for Manchester United we wouldn’t stop talking about him.


Antoine Semenyo (Bournemouth)
Struggled to make an impact in the second half of last season having joined from Bristol City for £9m in January, only featuring for 250 minutes under Gary O’Neil. But Andoni Iraola has got the very best out of Semenyo, who’s got eight goals and two assists for the Cherries this season, securing a starting spot for Ghana in the process.

He’s one of those players your eye is drawn to in a game by dint of his direct style and desire to make things happen whenever he gets on the ball.


Michael Olise (Crystal Palace)
All of the top eight have been linked with a move for Olise this summer, but if Manchester City don’t push for him he should stay with Oliver Glasner at Crystal Palace, who are arguably the most fun team to watch in the league right now, with the attacking triumvirate of Olise, Eberechi Eze and Jean-Philippe Mateta an absolute joy.

His brace in the humiliation of Manchester United means that only Erling Haaland (1.18), Cole Palmer (1.15) and Kevin De Bruyne (1.09) have more goal contributions per 90 minutes than Olise (1.07).

👉 Ranking Michael Olise’s nine summer options: Arsenal 8th, Man Utd 7th, Crystal Palace 2nd
👉 Top 10 most costly Premier League injuries features no Arsenal, Liverpool or Man City players


Jarrad Branthwaite (Everton)
A footballer can’t count Pep Guardiola and Carlo Ancelotti among their admirers without being bloody good at football, and it’s impossible to watch Branthwaite for any length of time at all without thinking the 21-year-old isn’t destined for great things. Manchester United are seemingly desperate to sign him this summer, but left-footed centre-backs are always very much in demand, and Branthwaite may be well advised to aim a little higher than a move to Old Trafford. He could have his pick of some very big clubs indeed.


Morgan Gibbs-White (Nottingham Forest)
He’s been aided in recent weeks by Callum Hudson-Odoi, but for much of the campaign, as was the case last season, Gibbs-White has been on a one-man mission to prevent Nottingham Forest being relegated from the Premier League. Five goals and eight assists to go with incredible work-rate and all-action style in midfield. Forest will do very well to hang onto him this summer.

More: Kobbie Mainoo | Jarrad Branthwaite | Anthony Gordon