The English Premier League is the most popular league in world soccer. Hundreds of millions of people, from all continents on the globe, watch EPL games every season.
I often talk about the benefits of being able to predict the rookies who are about to have a breakout season when it comes to soccer card investing, and that’s never more true with the audience that the EPL pulls each year.
A young player, in their rookie season, can go from relatively unknown to a household name among millions of soccer fans in no time if they start performing well in the Premier League – It’s happened so many times in the past, think of examples like Cristiano Ronaldo, Marcus Rashford and more recently, Mason Mount.
With a sharp increase in popularity comes a sharp increase in card values among collectors. Of course, there’s no guarantee that a prospect will fulfil the initial potential they showed or that they’ll avoid any major injuries, but if you can predict well and buy a rookie card early, you can benefit from huge returns on investment.
So with the 2021/22 Premier League season just around the corner, which wonderkids are next in-line for potential stardom? Here’s the 10 rookie players that I believe could have a big year and their cards, if they have one, to look out for:
10. Folarin Balogun
What is Folarin Balogun’s Rookie Card?
Folarin Balogun Futera Rookie
Balogun’s Rookie Current Value: N/A
Folarin Balogun has recently been promoted to the senior squad at Arsenal. He’s not yet made an appearance in the Premier League, but at 20 years old, he’s now considered ready to start pushing for his place in the team. I think that 2021/22 could be his breakthrough season with Arsenal in the middle of a rebuild of their senior team, so opportunities could open up for the English forward.
9. Liam Delap
What is Liam Delap's Rookie Card?
2020-21 Panini Premier League Sticker Liam Delap
Delap’s Rookie Current Value: $10 – Raw
Delap has the challenge of being one of the few players to make the step from Manchester City’s youth academy to the senior squad because they tend to use the transfer market instead… However, Phil Foden, who’s now considered one of the best young players in world soccer, has shown it’s not impossible. Manchester City’s academy has developed some of soccer’s stars in recent times, particularly Jadon Sancho who Manchester United have just bought off of Borussia Dortmund for around $100m. Liam Delap has impressed in the under-23 Premier League and with Sergio Aguero recently leaving City, there’s definitely a spot in the senior team next season for the young forward to try and claim.
8. Tino Anjorin
What is Tino Anjorin’s Rookie Card?
2020-21 Panini Premier League Sticker Tino Anjorin
Anjorin’s Rookie Current Value: $5 – Raw
Anjorin has been with Chelsea’s youth academy from a very young age. Now at 19 years old, he’ll be expecting to break into the senior squad over the next season. The attacking midfielder has impressed at youth level, including at youth international level for England. In the past, it’s been challenging for academy players to break into the senior team at Chelsea, who looked to buy players in the transfer market rather than promote their own youth, however over the last 2 seasons there’s been more opportunities with players like Mason Mount and Reece James establishing themselves as important players in the team that just won the Uefa Champions League… Anjorin will be looking to follow in their footsteps.
7. Louie Barry
What is Louie Barry's Rookie Card?
Louie Barry doesn’t currently have a rookie card (at the time of writing).
Barry’s Rookie Current Value: N/A
18 year old Louie Barry likely has a bright future in soccer. The English forward has only made one senior appearance for Aston Villa, in the FA Cup, where he scored a goal. With Jack Grealish likely leaving for Manchester City, there’ll be opportunities for him in the senior team in this coming season. Previously, he was the first Englishman to join La Masia, which is Barcelona’s famous youth academy where top players, like Lionel Messi, have been developed. At the time of writing this, he hasn’t yet got a card or sticker, so it’s one to look out for in the near future.
6. Moises Caicedo
What is Moises Caicedo’s Rookie Card?
2020-21 Panini Premier League Sticker Moises Caicedo
Caicedo’s Rookie Current Value: $5 – Raw
Moises Caicedo was linked with a transfer to a host of big soccer clubs last season, but it was Premier League side Brighton & Hove Albion who landed the 19 year old midfielder. There’s been a lot of comparisons to French midfielder N’golo Kante, who’s considered one of, if not the best, midfielders in the world right now… if Caicedo can reach anywhere near that level, he’ll be a top player. I’d expect him to breakthrough into the Brighton senior team in this coming season.
5. Anthony Elanga
What is Anthony Elanga’s Rookie Card?
2021-22 Topps Now UEFA Champions League Anthony Elanga
Elanga’s Rookie Current Value: $10 – Raw
Anthony Elanga is a product of the famous Manchester United youth academy. The Swedish teenager made his breakthrough in the senior squad in the closing weeks of the 2020/21 season after impressing in the youth teams and scored his first Premier League goal in the final game of last season. There’s high hope and expectation for Elanga, he’s showing huge potential and is expected to feature more for the senior team in 2021/22. His rookie card was issued by Topps after his first appearance in the Champions League, and had a pretty low print run of 2,322.
4. Emile Smith-Rowe
What is Emile Smith-Rowe’s Rookie Card?
2019-20 Panini Impeccable Masterstrokes Emile Smith-Rowe
Smith-Rowe’s Rookie Current Value: $100 – Raw
Smith-Rowe is already established in the Arsenal senior team after breaking through during last season but he’s still young and I think we could see the young Englishman have a huge season in 2021/22. He already has scored 7 goals for Arsenal from the attacking midfield position and there’s likely many more to come. I’m excited to see Smith-Rowe develop over the next season or two, he’s definitely one to keep a close eye on.
3. Amad Diallo
What is Amad Diallo’s Rookie Card?
2019/20 Panini Calciatori Amad Diallo
Diallo’s Rookie Current Value: $15 – Raw
Amad Diallo is another player on this list who plays for Manchester United. At just 18 years old, he transferred last season for around $50m from Italian club, Atalanta, after showing a lot of promise. He has a lot of competition fighting for the same spot as him in the senior team but he already started to make a breakthrough towards the end of last season, and he scored his first goal against AC Milan in the Europa League Round of 16. Many soccer experts believe Diallo is certain to be a future star of the sport, so he’s definitely one to look out for.
2. Fabio Silva
What is Fabio Silva's Rookie Card?
2019 Panini Futebol Fabio Silva
Silva’s Rookie Current Value: $15 – Raw
Fabio Silva’s rookie season in the Premier League was last season with Wolverhampton Wanderers, however the forward is still just 19 and hasn’t yet fully established himself. He has scored 7 senior goals and I think he could have a big season in 2021/22. Silva is one of the highest potential youngsters in world football and another to keep an eye on.
1. Joao Pedro
What is Joao Pedro’s Rookie Card?
2019/20 Panini Premier League Sticker Joao Pedro
Pedro’s Rookie Current Value: $5 – Raw
19 year old Brazilian forward, Joao Pedro, is the rookie I believe has the biggest chance of having a major breakout season in the Premier League in 2021/22. He’s been considered as a future star for a couple of years and will get a chance to prove himself in England’s top tier after impressing in the second tier division last season with Watford.