Thursday, May 26

7 players who will be bigger and better next season

The 2021/22 season is drawing to a close, and that means we’re into awards season…but what of those players who have avoided the spotlight this campaign?

Certain established stars across the globe will be taking stock and considering what and how they can improve next time around, while others will be looking to overcome injuries and breakthrough stars of this campaign will be targeting even more success in 2022/23.

Here are seven players who are certain to be bigger and better next season…

Federico ChiesaFederico Chiesa

Chiesa’s season was curtailed by injury / Nicolò Campo/GettyImages

Federico Chiesa was emerging as one of the finest wingers on the planet before his season was curtailed by an ACL injury in January.

The Italy international is going to be out for a while longer, but when he returns he will feel like a new signing for Juventus.

Still just 24 years old, all being well with his recovery, Chiesa will surely be Juve’s talisman as they head into the post-Paulo Dybala era. He’s even set to inherit the number ten shirt.

Leroy SaneLeroy Sane

Sane has flattered to deceive / Boris Streubel/GettyImages

Although he has collected the customary silverware, things are yet to go quite to plan for Leroy Sane since he returned to Germany.

It has been rumoured that he could be on the move in the summer, but if he stays at Bayern Munich he now knows what will be expected of him.

His manager, Julian Nagelsmann, and the club hierarchy have been clear that they expect more, so next season may well be make or break for the flying winger.

WHAT a signing Luis Diaz has been for Liverpool.

It feels as though the Colombian has only been in England for a minute, but in the space of just a few months his impact from out wide has been huge.

It’s the kind of signing that feels like it could be seismic for the Reds and the Premier League as a whole, and his first full season at Anfield will go some way to determining that. Liverpool have future-proofed for life after Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane.

Pedro Gonzalez 'Pedri'Pedro Gonzalez 'Pedri'

Pedri is an outstanding young midfielder / Quality Sport Images/GettyImages

After a stunning breakthrough campaign in 2020/21 where he played more than 70 games overall, Pedri’s season was almost inevitably curtailed by hamstring injuries this term.

Having played a fraction of that amount this season, you would expect the 19-year-old to be back and better than ever for Barcelona in 2022/23.

A wonderful technician cut from the same cloth as fellow La Masia graduates Xavi and Iniesta, you would not bet against Pedri establishing himself as one of – if not the – best midfielders on the planet next year.

Paul PogbaPaul Pogba

Pogba could be headed for pastures new / Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/GettyImages

It is undeniable that Paul Pogba will be galvanised by a move away from Manchester United in the summer, and wherever he ends up the mercurial Frenchman will surely show a better side to his game.

At his best, Pogba is simply unplayable, and in the right system he could well find himself back among the very best midfielders on the planet once again.

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After an excellent start, the Frenchman endured an injury-hit campaign and struggled to make an impact in a discontented United squad even when fit.

Philippe CoutinhoPhilippe Coutinho

Coutinho is looking to resurrect his career / Marc Atkins/GettyImages

Philippe Coutinho is back in the Premier League.

Following a mightily underwhelming – and costly – spell with Barcelona, the former Liverpool dynamo has sealed a permanent transfer to Aston Villa, where he will continue working under former teammate Steven Gerrard.

It feels like a match made in heaven, and Coutinho has already shown the kinds of flashes of brilliance that suggest he can resurrect his career at Villa Park. Watch this space.

Romelu LukakuRomelu Lukaku

Lukaku has been back in form / Stu Forster/GettyImages

Things can only get better for Romelu Lukaku – wherever he’s playing his football next season.

The Belgian striker’s comeback season at Chelsea has not gone to plan, with a barren run preceded by an injury, a bout of Covid-19 and a now infamous interview with Italian media derailing his campaign.

A late-season uptick in form suggests he could be back to his very best next season. Whether that is at Chelsea or elsewhere remains to be seen…

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