Ajani’s got talent! Burchall on list of 20 young stars in Premier League academies
Bermudian footballer Ajani Burchall, of Aston Villa, has joined an exciting list of young footballers in Britain, one touted as the “Next Generation 2021” of outstanding talent at Premier League clubs.
The list, which has been compiled annually by The Guardian newspaper and has Marcus Radford of Manchester United as a previous inclusion, features “20 of the best talents” in the Premier League, with one player selected from each of the 20 clubs in the top flight. The requirement is that the players featured be born between September 1, 2004 and August 31, 2005.
Burchall, who joined Bournemouth in 2019 after being offered a pre-scholarship to join their academy, does not turn 17 until November 5. However, the talent he showed at Bournemouth and now Aston Villa has not gone unnoticed.
The former Bermuda Under-15 forward, who still attends school, made an historic debut for Bournemouth’s first team against Huddersfield Town, Nahki Wells’s former club, in the Sky Bet Championship last December.
Aged 16 years and 37 days, the former North Village player became the youngest Bermudian to appear in the English Football League and the third-youngest Bournemouth player behind Jimmy White and Jayden Stockley after coming on as a late substitute in a 5-0 win.
Burchall’s development is continuing this season in the Aston Village under-18 team, after the West Midlands club beat out clubs such as Arsenal, Leeds United, West Ham United and Crystal Palace to sign the teenager from Bournemouth this summer.
Burchall’s bio in the Guardian article mentioned how he moved to England from Bermuda at a young age and last season became the third youngest senior debutant in the South Coast club’s history when he came off the bench against Huddersfield Town.
“A fast, skilful and smart winger, he has been quick to make an impact at Villa, scoring a hat-trick in his second appearance in the U-18 Premier League and also collecting three assists in his first four games for the club,” the profile read.
While some clubs can afford to spend tens of millions of pounds to sign the best talent, most clubs still prefer to develop their own talent. Those 20 players featured in the article are not household names yet but they are rated as players to watch in the coming years.
One, a winger name Kaide Gordon, has already made his senior debut for Liverpool, against Norwich City in the third round of the Carabao Cup this season. In the process, Gordon became the fifth youngest player to appear for Liverpool.
“Signed amid the turmoil at Derby in February for an initial £1.1 million, rising to £3.4 million with add-ons, the Derby-born winger caught the first team's eye at the start of preseason training,” his profile read.
Pepijn Lijnders, an assistant manager at Anfield, speaks very highly of young Gordon. "I was watching the under-23s and I saw one player who had fire in each moment that he touched the ball,“ Lijnders said.
“He passes players like they are not there. I called [manager] Jürgen [Klopp] immediately and said: ‘Wow! We have a new player here’.
"He is a typical Liverpool Football Club winger in my opinion because he has goals and he has speed."
Players on the list of 20 to watch are:
Reuell Walters (Arsenal, defender)
Ajani Burchall (Aston Villa, forward)
Fin Stevens (Brentford, defender)
Jack Hinshelwood (Brighton, midfielder)
Wiktor Gromek (Burnley, midfielder)
Zain Silcott-Duberry (Chelsea, forward)
Kayden Rodney (Crystal Palace, midfielder)
Jensen Metcalfe (Everton, midfielder)
Cian Coleman (Leeds United, midfielder)
Chris Popov (Leicester City, forward)
Kaide Gordon (Liverpool, winger)
Luca Barrington (Manchester City, winger)
Ethan Ennis (Manchester United, midfielder)
Ben Parkinson (Newcastle United, winger)
Osman Foyo (Norwich City, midfielder)
Kamari Doyle (Southampton, midfielder)
Jamie Donley (Tottenham, forward)
Adrian Blake (Watford, winger)
Kaelan Casey (West Ham United, defender)
Owen Farmer (Wolverhampton Wanderers, forward)