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PL2: POTS winners of the past, where are they now?

The PL2 replaced the U21 Premier League in the 2016/17 season and has consistently allowed young talent to shine and develop.

As we await the return of domestic football, we’ll look back at the player of the season from each year since its introduction and where they are now.

2016/17: Oli McBurnie – Swansea City

[Credit: Athena Pictures]

The Scotsman netted 23 goals across all competitions in a successful campaign for the Swans, where they won the PL2 Division 2 by 11 points and claimed the Premier League Cup. His impressive form earned him a spot in Swansea’s first team, where he was highly impressive, scoring 22 goals in the EFL Championship. McBurnie joined Sheffield United for a fee of £20 million in August 2019, where he has made 130 appearances and scored 20 goals for the Blades since his arrival.

[Credit: Stuart MacFarlane]

Nelson scored 10 goals in the Gunners’ PL2 title-winning campaign and earned substitute appearances in domestic and European cup competitions with the first team. In August 2018, 1899 Hoffenheim acquired the winger on loan for the season for a €500,000 loan fee, and Nelson scored seven goals in 23 Bundesliga outings. After struggling to maintain regular first-team football, Nelson was loaned out once again, this time to Eredivisie side Feyenoord in 2021. Now 23, Nelson is still at Arsenal with four goals and two assists in 37 Premier League appearances, an FA Cup, and two Community Shields to his name.

2018/19: Aaron Connolly – Brighton

[Credit: Pete Norton]

Connolly’s 11 goals made him the top scorer in the PL2 as well as netting five in the EFL Trophy and one in the PL International Cup. The Irishman was loaned to third-tier side Luton Town where he made only two appearances in a title-winning season. Following underwhelming loan spells at Middlesbrough and Venezia, the striker is finding his feet at Championship side Hull City, where he has contributed five goals in 11 games so far this season.

[Credit: John Powell]

The Merseyside native had a stellar breakout season, providing nine goals from midfield in the PL2 as well as scoring his first professional goal against Everton in the FA Cup. Since his first-team breakthrough, the midfielder has been a consistent squad player under Jurgen Klopp, making 68 appearances for his boyhood club. He also has a plethora of silverware, winning the Premier League title, FA Cup, League Cup, Community Shield, FIFA Club World Cup, as well as being a U21 European champion with England.

[Credit: James Gill]

Delap broke the record for the most goals scored by a single player in a PL2 season with 24 goals for Manchester City, winning the title with ease as they were 14 points clear at the top. The 18-year-old striker was prolific at youth level and was a part of England’s European U19 Championship success in 2022. Delap has had unsuccessful loans at Stoke City and Preston North End but, at 20, is looking to prove his talent at first-team level with Hull City.

2021/22: James McAtee – Manchester City

[Credit: James Gill]

McAtee made it two successive POTS winners from Man City following another dominant campaign. The midfielder had 18 goals and seven assists in another title win for City. Following a couple of first-team opportunities under Pep Guardiola, McAtee was loaned to Sheffield United in the Championship where he appeared in 37 games. He contributed to the Blades’ promotion season with nine goals and three assists. McAtee was loaned back to the Sheffield side for a second season after impressing in the Championship.

2022/23: Carlos Forbs – Manchester City

[Credit: James Gill]

The most recent award winner was another product of Man City’s continued dominance. Forbs’ 19 goals and nine assists capped off a perfect season for the youngster. An incredible season at youth level caught the attention of European giants Ajax, who paid an initial €14 million fee, which could rise to €19 million for his services. The Portugal youth international has bags of potential, but it will take time to adjust to first-team football.

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