The NextGen series has provided fans with an opportunity to have a rare glimpse into the academies of some of the biggest clubs from around Europe. It is a chance to spot the next Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo.

There were numerous success stories from the inaugural series with Raheem Sterling forcing his way into the Liverpool first team, while Celtic's Tony Watt would first play Barcelona in NextGen action and less than 12 months later score against them in the Champions League.

Ajax appear to unearthed a real gem in forward Viktor Fischer, while Barcelona have another supremely skilled creative midfielder in Sergi Samper.

But what of the English sides who have competed in this season's tournament. There has been plenty of success with Chelsea and Aston Villa progressing to the semi-finals where they could be joined by Arsenal. Tottenham lost an eight goal thriller to Sporting Lisbon at the quarter-final stage and Liverpool also fell foul of the Portuguese side in the knockout stages.

There has been a wealth of talent on show and we have decided to pick one player from each of the Premier League clubs who we believe could one day push for a place in the first team. It's not been easy to pick out a single player with so much team success but here we go...

Chelsea - Lewis Baker - Midfield

Lewis Baker
Lewis Baker [NextGen]

Baker is enjoying another exceptional season in the Chelsea youth team. Last year he played every game in the FA Youth Cup and scored an excellent goal in the final to help the Blues lift the trophy. The 17-year-old has been handed the captain's armband and he has produced some scintillating displays in Chelsea's run to the semi-final.

A creative midfielder who enjoys controlling proceedings, his finest moment came in the 4-1 thumping of Juventus in the quarter-finals of the tournament. Baker scored two, one a scintillating strike from 20 yards, and helped Chelsea stroll to victory with as assured performance. With deadly striker Islam Feruz ahead of him, Baker has pulled the strings and is the heartbeat of this excellent side.

Liverpool - Jordan Ibe - Winger


Last year Liverpool had a winger who possessed supreme pace, trickery and undoubted natural ability. Fortunately, while Raheem Sterling has made his presence felt in the first team and for England, they have managed to discover a player with all of the same attributes. Jordan Ibe has been blessed with electric pace and has been showing just why many people believe he can emulate the achievements of Sterling.

Signed from Wycombe when he was just 15, Ibe's ability to glide past defenders has made him a handful at every youth level. One of Liverpool's best performances came when they defeated reigning champions Inter Milan 4-1 to make it through to the knockout stages and Ibe played a crucial role in the win. Along with Ryan McLaughlin and Jerome Sinclair, Ibe's speed proved too much for the Italians defence who simply could not live with their direct runs. At 17-year-old, he will only develop and with Brendan Rodgers handing chances to young players it seems Ibe may well be emulating Sterling sooner rather than later.

Aston Villa - Michael Drennan - Striker


With six goals in just seven appearances, Drennan is the top scorer in the competition and has been described by Villa academy manager Bryan Jones as a striker who "scores goals for fun". The 18-year-old moved from Kilkenny to Villa to pursue his playing career and after impressing signed his first professional contract in February 2011.

A clinical and natural finisher, Drennan has been unstoppable this season and was particularly impressive in the 2-1 win over a very good Ajax side. Like all good striker he claims he is simply lucky to be in the right place to finish off the chances but it's his instincts that get him in the right positions. With Paul Lambert promoting a number of players to the first team, it seems inevitable that Drennan will soon be pushing for his own chance, especially if he helps Villa to progress to the final of the NextGen series.

Arsenal - Chuba Akpom - Striker

Chuba Akpom
Chuba Akpom [Twitter]

The 17-year-old striker has already been earmarked as one to watch by Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger who recently said: "I wanted him to be with the first team, taste what it is [to be involved] in a Champions League game, and hopefully he will join us very quickly. It could happen very soon. He's more a guy who likes to participate in the build up, a guy who is brave, a guy who makes good runs and is not a typical goal chaser."

Akpom has scored two goals in his seven appearances in the NextGen series this season and the only criticism of the young striker is that he is too unselfish. He often attempts to look for a teammate rather than having a shot on goal. However, his work rate up front certainly brings the midfielders into play and despite his young age he is already physically very strong. A tall and quick striker, Akpom has excelled for England at youth level and could well force his way into the Arsenal first team squad next season.

Tottenham - Alex Pritchard - Attacking Midfielder

Alex Pritchard
Alex Pritchard [NextGen]

At 19-years-old Pritchard is one of the older players to make the list and he is one that is clearly close to pushing for first team football. The attacking midfielder was awarded a new two year contract recently and was sent out on-loan to Peterborough. Unfortunately, injury cut short his season but he had been in excellent form in the NextGen series.

A two footed midfielder who can play on either wing, Pritchard scored one in the 4-1 win over Barcelona and then added two to his tally against Wolfsburg. It was this game which best demonstrated his talent. Starting on the left he continually beat the opposition and opened the scoring with a beautifully curled free-kick from 25 yards. His second, from the same distance, was cleanly struck as he ran in on a pull back to smash the ball home. Technically skilled and with lot of tricks, Pritchard will hope to impress Tottenham Andre Villas-Boas and earn a place in the squad next season.