Pre-season often doesn’t mean much for many footballers out there.
After all, we now live in an age where over these summer months, we’ll see more photos of players walking on Venice beach than with a ball at their feet.
It’s perhaps harsh to say that’s all they do, but the focus at this stage isn’t entirely on football.
The Premier League season is only a matter of weeks away now, though, and preparations will begin to ramp up even more over the next fortnight.
However, the glitz and the glamour of the International Champions Cup has been plaguing our screens like a bad rash that just doesn’t seem to go away.
Commentators have tried as hard as they can to build them up whilst we even saw two red cards in the same game when Arsenal drew 2-2 with Real Madrid.
To throw out the phrase “the game’s gone” would perhaps be an understatement in this situation.
That being said, there is plenty of reason to be excited for fans across the country and indeed around the globe over three rising stars at some of the biggest clubs in the top-flight.
Mason Greenwood has already shown tremendous strides at the age of 17, scoring against Inter Milan, whilst Eddie Nketiah found the winner against Bayern Munich before also netting against Fiorentina.
For those two especially, it’s been a superb pre-season. But Rhian Brewster has also delivered, scoring against Dortmund which, at the time, marked his fourth goal of the summer for Liverpool.
Arguably, they are three of the most exciting young players in their position in England’s top division, but it remains to be seen who can have the greatest impact based upon their competitive senior appearances and youth team performances to date.
At the age of 20, there is a case to be made for Nketiah.
The Arsenal youngster is the only player on the list to score a senior goal, bagging the Gunners’ final strike of the 2018/19 season with a deflected effort against Burnley.
Nketiah burst onto the scene with a brace in the Carabao Cup two years ago but until this pre-season, he’s rarely been afforded many chances.
Linked with a loan move to Augsburg in January and then Bristol City this summer, Unai Emery revealed that he wanted him to stay at the club for the upcoming campaign, but behind Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang he could struggle once more.
Of course, Danny Welbeck has now departed, but there is also the threat of Brazilian Gabriel Martinelli to contend with.
Of the three players in focus, he is the oldest and has shown what he can do at senior level on more occasions, but who he’s behind in the pecking order makes it difficult to see how he’ll get regular minutes.
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Similar arguments can be made for Brewster. The 19-year-old has come back from a colossal ankle injury already, meaning his development and ultimately the chance of achieving first-team minutes was pushed back.
This is a player who has the world at his feet, finishing as the top scorer at the U17 World Cup in 2017 before going onto be in the squad for Liverpool’s Champions League final.
Despite never appearing at senior level before, he donned his winning medal like he’d been a key member of the team, even wearing it when he had a haircut.
His attitude is admirable but the fact remains that he’s also scored far fewer goals.
Jurgen Klopp has suggested that fringe players such as Brewster need to get an opportunity next season.
That bodes well for him but at the end of the day, he’s playing second fiddle to one of the most devastating forward lines in Europe and could find life tough behind Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino.
And that’s why Greenwood is better placed than the pair of them. If Romelu Lukaku leaves for Inter then Manchester United will have Marcus Rashford as their main striker.
Despite being just 17, Greenwood only has four fewer youth team strikes than Nketiah and arguably has an easier route into the first team.
The Red Devils look as though they’re finally turning their backs on egotistical big-name signings, as the purchases of Daniel James and Aaron Wan-Bissaka attest to.
Greenwood has been a revelation in pre-season, though, and even boasts the ability to take set-plays with both feet.
Yet this assumption that Greenwood could also have a bigger season is based on trust.
He featured in the Champions League last term, which shows the confidence the club have in him. And with more experienced players in Alexis Sanchez and Anthony Martial failing to perform to the standards required, there is no reason why the teenager cannot have an impact.
The situations of Arsenal and Liverpool dictate that their young stars could find it tricky. Yet, Greenwood has the opening available to him already.
It’s now down to the young United man to prove he can do it when handed an opportunity.