The top five English Premier League players aged 21 or under, are headed by a dynamic midfielder who represents hope for a club that has won nothing for nearly eight years. Here s the full list, beginning with a tenacious defender imported this summer from Serie A.
5. Matija Nastasic, Central Defender, Manchester City
Matija Nastasic has endured a tough transition to the pace and rigours of the EPL. However, the former Fiorentina prodigy has recovered well and become a valued figure for Manchester City.
Quick and combative, Nastasic has become assertive at the heart of the Citizens defense. If he continues to adapt and develop at this rate, last season's champions will have a true star at the back.
4. Luke Shaw Left-Back, Southampton
Southampton's Luke Shaw is an excellent attacking full-back with the skill to become a key figure in the EPL. Blessed with natural pace and sound technique, Shaw poses a consistent threat along the left flank.
The Saints youth is also a smart and instinctive link player. The 17-year-old is refining his defensive craft, but certainly shows the tenacity to improve.
3. Gael Bigirimana, Midfielder, Newcastle United
Gael Bigirimana is a hidden gem at Newcastle United. Whenever the 19-year-old has taken the field this season, he has impressed. A natural athlete, Bigirimana brings quickness, sure touch and drive to the Magpies' midfield ranks.
The Burundi-born youth is versatile enough to fill in anywhere across midfield. It will be interesting to see exactly what role the versatile Bigirimana develops into at Newcastle.
2. Alexander Kacaniklic, Attacking Midfielder/Forward, Fulham
Tricky and intelligent Swedish attacker Alexander Kacaniklic has been a pleasant surprise in an otherwise disappointing Fulham season.
The 21-year-old is technically gifted and offers excellent control and acceleration in wide areas. He is a natural winger, but also poses a credible attacking threat when drifting into the middle.
The ex-Helsingborg prospect has netted three goals and is developing into a key member of Martin Jol's cosmopolitan squad. Sky Sports recently reported Serie A interest in Kacaniklic, suggesting his performances are earning him acclaim across the continent.
1. Jack Wilshere, Midfielder, Arsenal
Jack Wilshere is easily the best player in his age range in the EPL. What sets the Arsenal star apart is his complete game. Tough, skilful, intelligent, creative and determined. All of these attributes fittingly apply to Wilshere.
The 21-year-old has returned from a lengthy injury layoff to become a key member of the Gunners squad. In a team otherwise blighted by inconsistency, Wilshere's performances has have usually been of the highest quality.
Blessed with peerless natural technique, Wilshere adds more elements to his repertoire all the time. He is flourishing in a more advanced role this season. That's thanks to eye-popping skill and control with the ball at his feet.
Wilshere is becoming not only the player Arsenal look to for drive and fight. He is also becoming the player who can turn a close game with a moment of inspiration and class.
Under Arsene Wenger's expert tutelage, Wilshere's rise to world class prominence is sure to continue.