Young Player of the Year betting preview: Greenwood can benefit from Ronaldo arrival to take crown

Manchester City’s Phil Foden faces a battle to regain his place let alone his title, with Mason Greenwood having stolen a march across the other side of the city - even before teaming up with Ronaldo.

Phil Foden's superb season earned him the title of Young Player of the Year in 2020/21, but the 20-year-old will have to overcome stiff opposition if he is to retain his crown.

The Manchester City star produced nine goals and six assists en route to the award last season, but has been forced to sit and watch his rivals get a head start in 2021/22 due to injury.

Yet to make an appearance for Pep Guardiola's side, Foden's absence has allowed Manchester United's Mason Greenwood to take on the bright young thing mantle with three goals in three to start the campaign.

Even when fit, Foden will face a difficult task to force his way back into the starting XI at the Etihad, with 21-year-old Ferran Torres having made a fine start to the campaign.

The Manchester-based trio are sure to be there or thereabouts when it comes to the Young Player award, but Newcastle United's new permanent addition Joe Willock is also one to watch after an emphatic loan spell at St James' Park last season.

Phil Foden

Foden will be keen to replicate his success from last season, but the Manchester City star has been watching from the sidelines after picking up an injury over the summer.

Admittedly, missing three games is unlikely to affect the standings come the end of the season, but it certainly hasn't stood Foden in good stead when it comes to his club place.

Torres has looked sharp as City's false nine, while the return of Kevin De Bruyne only stacks up his competition.

Having gone into the Euros being compared to Paul Gascoigne and ended it as a bit-part player, Foden is in danger of being eclipsed by a new wave of young talent. A battle for minutes at the Etihad won't help and he is best swerved when it comes to this market.

Ferran Torres

The Spanish forward was brought to Manchester in 2020 after shining for Valencia and netted seven goals in his debut season.

Just weeks ago, City were fighting tooth and nail to bring a new striker in, but after a breakdown in negotiations over Harry Kane, and missing out on Cristiano Ronaldo, Guardiola has been forced to go with Torres.

The Spaniard was often rotated by Guardiola last season, making way for the more experienced pair of Gabriel Jesus and Sergio Aguero. But with the Brazilian finding his form out on the wing, and the latter moving on to Barcelona, the 21-year-old has taken his opportunity up front with both hands.

In the opening weeks of the Premier League, Torres has registered two goals and an assist, and is thriving in his new position.

Not only has Torres improved his numbers, but is also looking hugely impressive alongside Jack Grealish and Jesus in City's attack.

However, while 6/1 is tempting, the imminent returns of both Foden and De Bruyne put Torres' playing time in question.

Will he be able to maintain his form if he is in and out of the side?

Mason Greenwood

Manchester United's young star is off to a flying start in 2021/22 with three goals in three games.

With Marcus Rashford injured and Dan James being shipped off to Leeds United, Greenwood has enjoyed an extended stay on the right flank of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side.

A superb strike against Leeds in United's opener was quickly followed up with goals against Southampton and Wolves, and Greenwood looks to finally be adding consistency to his performances.

Only 19, there's no doubting that Greenwood still has plenty of room to grow, and it's a scary prospect considering his already startling ability.

The return of Cristiano Ronaldo has increased the competition for starting places but what greater role model could Greenwood have than the Portuguese legend?

The media are certainly on side with Greenwood and he's already picking up awards, having been named United's player-of-the-month award for August. 

Further glory awaits in June.

Reece James

Chelsea's powerful defender will also fancy his chances for the award after a strong start to the campaign.

James has quickly grown to become a crucial member of Thomas Tuchel's side, and after their Champions League conquest last season, the Blues will be eager to emulate their success domestically.

Deployed mostly as a wing-back, James has already showed his superb attacking threat, registering a goal and two assists in the opening three fixtures.

Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold paved the way for right-backs becoming Young Player of the Year, having landed the award in 2019/20. It's a high benchmark for James, but not one that will faze him.

If the Blues are to secure their first Premier League title since 2016/17, James will be one of the key components. However, it remains to be seen whether he will be able to stand out in a side blessed with young talent, let alone a league.

Joe Willock

While Greenwood gets our nod for the crown, Newcastle United's £25million man looks extremely tempting at 16/1.

Struggling for game-time at Arsenal, Willock went on loan to the Magpies last season and in just 21 appearances, weighed in with a remarkable eight goals to help ensure Premier League survival.

After producing outstanding numbers in just over half a season, Willock will be looking to take a step up after making his move permanent this summer.

More will be expected of him and much will depend on how he adapts to being a full-time employee at St James' Park. It's all very well coming off the bench and dazzling when you've got your parent club as a fall-back, another thing to produce it when your livelihood depends on it.

However, he performed in the pressure-cooker sutuation of a relegation battle last season so there's nothing to suggest he can't flourish with the pressure off - for the first few months of the season, at least.

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