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Premier League Key Players: Including Mo Salah, Bukayo Saka & Bruno Fernandes

We take a look at each Premier League team's key player in the 2023/24 campaign.

In every football team there are indispensable figures who are heavily relied upon, and this is certainly the case in the Premier League.

Whether it be a primary goalscorer or dominant defender, each side has a select few key men who are central to their hopes.

We take a look at who these players are in the Premier League in the context of the 2023/24 season...
 

Clubs:

Arsenal

Bukayo Saka

Still only 22, the maturity and self-belief that Saka has shown since his penalty shootout miss in the final of Euro 2020 has been staggering. 

After netting 11 times in the Premier League the following season, Saka enjoyed his best season to date last year, scoring 14 goals to boost Arsenal’s title challenge.

His performances on the international stage have also been particularly impressive in the last 12 months, including his first England hat-trick against North Macedonia in a Euros qualifier over the summer.

While the focus in the 2023/24 campaign will initially be on the performances of new signings Timber, Rice and Havertz, the form of Saka will be crucial to another Arsenal title bid. 

The trajectory of Saka’s career suggests that he can become one of the best players in the world in years to come, and given his development in the last two years, that could be sooner rather than later.
 

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Aston Villa

Ollie Watkins

Aston Villa have quality all over the park, from World Cup-winning goalkeeper Emi Martinez, Pau Torres, Tyrone Mings and Ezri Konsa at the back, Douglas Luiz and John McGinn in midfield, and the likes of Moussa Diaby and Jacob Ramsey providing the creative spark. 

But – especially after losing former strike partner Ings in January – Villa’s success often hinges on Watkins’ form and fitness. 

The 27-year-old has been superb since arriving at Villa Park, with 14, 11 and 15 goals across his three seasons in the Midlands, thriving in his new prominence in the side since Emery’s appointment.
 

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Bournemouth

Dominic Solanke

An academy product of Chelsea, Dominic Solanke was rated as one of the most talented young players in the country as a teenager - awarded the Golden Ball as England's Under 20s won the World Cup in South Korea in 2017.

Despite his promise at youth level, Solanke struggled to make an impact in his early years as a professional. Transferring to Liverpool from Chelsea in 2017, Solanke scored just one Premier League goal in 21 appearances for the Reds before making the move to Bournemouth in 2019.

His struggles in front of goal continued on the south coast, netting just three times in 33 matches as the Cherries were eventually relegated from the Premier League in 2020.

At this point maligned as a player unable of cutting it at top flight level, Solanke was able to rebuild his confidence in the Championship - registering an impressive 44 goals across two seasons as Bournemouth earned promotion back to the Premier League last term.

Solanke's renaissance continued in the Premier League last season, demonstrating his all-round skillset as he registered 13 goal contributions in 33 matches - six goals and seven assists.

Now 25, Solanke will be aiming to kick on again under an attack-minded manager in the form of Iraola as the focal point of this Bournemouth side, potentially with an eye on forcing his way back into the international fold ahead of next summer's Euros having received one cap for England back in 2017.
 

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Brentford

Mathias Jensen

A key part of Brentford's journey from promotion hopefuls in the Championship to overachievers in the Premier League since signing from Celta Vigo in the summer of 2019, Denmark international Mathias Jensen has developed into a vital cog in Thomas Frank's midfield.

Capable of operating as a deep lying playmaker dictating the tempo of matches, Jensen adopted more of a creative role for the Bees last season following the departure of Christian Eriksen, contributing a commendable five goals and six assists from midfield.

An almost ever present in the Premier League last season, making 37 appearances, Jensen provides the link between midfield and attack for Brentford, a technically proficient operator within what is a very physical team.

Jensen's dead ball taking ability is also hugely important for the set piece specialists, with the Dane taking his fair share of corners and free kicks for the Bees.
 

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Brighton

Lewis Dunk

Brighton’s captain made his debut for the club back in the 2009-10 season, when Brighton were playing League One football under Gus Poyet. 

He has since been a mainstay of the side in three different divisions, winning the Players’ Player of the Season award in 2018-19 and 2020-21, as well as the club’s overall Player of the Year award in 2019-20. 

Dunk has thrived in the contrasting styles of Chris Hughton and the likes of De Zerbi and Potter, and whilst he is more than adept with the ball at his feet, he is also a commanding leader at the heart of defence. 

He has surprisingly only made one England appearance, in a 2018 friendly against USA, and his form in recent years suggests he should be given more opportunities.

With doubts surrounding Harry Maguire, Eric Dier’s loss of form, Conor Coady dropping down to the Championship and inconsistencies amongst other defensive candidates, Dunk surely deserves a chance to partner John Stones in Gareth Southgate’s backline.
 

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Burnley

Josh Cullen

A graduate from the West Ham academy, Josh Cullen gained senior experience in League One, impressing at Bradford City winning the Players’ Player of the Season in his first full campaign with the Bantams, before making the step up to Championship level with Bolton. 

After another loan spell, this time with Charlton, Cullen bid an emotional farewell to West Ham, joining Anderlecht on a permanent deal, before returning to England with Burnley at the start of last season.

The promise Cullen showed as a youngster had been realised, with the midfielder crucial in the Clarets’ promotion push.

While his more adventurous midfield partner Josh Brownhill caught the eye with 15 goal contributions last season, it was Cullen who was perhaps the more influential, picking up the Fans’ and Players’ Player of the Season in his first season at Turf Moor.

While Brownhill may be more appealing to Fantasy players with his goalscoring and creating, Cullen is vital and will be pivotal to Burnley’s hopes of survival this season.
 

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Chelsea

Enzo Fernandez

Signed for a British record fee of around £106.8m in January, Enzo Fernandez has endured a difficult start to life at Chelsea with the club going through a period of instability both on and off the pitch.

The Argentine World Cup winner has showed promise in midfield, however, displaying the class and composure on the ball which saw him pick up the Young Player of the Tournament award at the Qatar showpiece last winter.

Fernandez will likely form a key part of new Chelsea manager and compatriot Mauricio Pochettino's vision for the future, with the ex-Benfica man undoubtedly boasting the potential to eventually develop into one of the most accomplished midfielders in the Premier League.
 

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Crystal Palace

Eberechi Eze

25-year-old Eberechi Eze became the key cornerstone of the Crystal Palace side following the arrival of Hodgson last term, ending the season as one of the Premier League's most in-form players.

Eze's performances at the back end of last season were so impressive that they prompted international recognition, with England manager Gareth Southgate handing the former QPR man his Three Lions debut in a Euros qualifier against Malta in June.

An attacking midfielder with an abundance of skill and masterful vision, Eze has become the centre-point of this Crystal Palace side in a number 10 position, replacing the outgoing Wilfried Zaha as the team's talismanic figure.

Registering 14 goal contributions in the Premier League last term - 10 goals and four assists - Eze will be striving to build on these numbers in order to ensure he is part of the travelling party for England at the Euros finals in Germany next summer.
 

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Everton

Dominic Calvert-Lewin

Calvert-Lewin has been part of the set-up at Goodison Park since 2016 and he became a regular in 2017/18.

The 26-year-old scored 21 goals across all competitions in 2020/21, including 16 in the Premier League, but has been blighted by injuries over the past two campaigns.

Everton will be desperate to keep the England international healthy as he is the perfect fit for Dyche's preferred style of play.

Dyche likes to utilise the wings and get deliveries into the box, something Calvert-Lewin should thrive from.
 

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Fulham

Joao Palhinha 

An absolute revelation at the base of Fulham's midfield last season after transferring from Sporting Lisbon for £20m, Joao Palhinha has already attracted major transfer interest from the likes of Bayern Munich and Liverpool.

A robust and tireless defensive midfielder, 28-year-old Palhinha finished last season as the player with the most most tackles and most duels won throughout the Premier League.

At 6ft 3in tall, Palhinha is a formidable figure in the middle of the park, and quickly became the heartbeat of a Fulham side who were able to finish in a commendable 10th place in the Premier League table following their promotion from the Championship.
 

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Liverpool

Mo Salah

If Jurgen Klopp is one of Liverpool's all-time great managers, then Egyptian forward Mo Salah should enter the conversation as one the best players to ever don the famous red shirt.

Since moving to Anfield from Roma in 2017, Salah has developed into a goalscoring sensation, leaving him fourth on Liverpool's all-time scoring list above another club legend, Steven Gerrard.

Salah has netted a minimum of 19 Premier League goals across his six seasons with the Reds and after being part of the club's iconic front three alongside Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane for so long, he is now leading the new wave of attackers at Anfield.

Despite turning 31 over the summer, Salah is still more than capable of delivering the goals and creativity that Liverpool will need if they are to break back into the top four and beyond.
 

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Luton Town

Tom Lockyer

Club captain Tom Lockyer was voted Luton Town's Player of the Season last term as an instrumental figure at the heart of the side's well-organised back three set up.

Wales international Lockyer's season was to end in traumatic circumstances, however, with the 28 year-old forced to watch his teammates claim glory in the penalty shootout victory in the play-off final against Coventry from a hospital bed after suffering a health scare in the first half.

Thankfully for Luton and everybody associated with Lockyer, the defender has made a full recovery and will be fit to play a leading role as the Hatters seek to hold their own in the Premier League in the new season.

Lockyer is very much the embodiment of what this Luton side are all about - assured, determined and full-blooded - with manager Rob Edwards likely to lean heavily on his captain's influence to help steer his charges in the right direction in the Premier League.
 

View latest Luton Town Premier League odds 

Manchester City

Rodri

The likes of Kevin De Bruyne, Erling Haaland, Ederson and Ruben Dias are all undoubtedly key players for Man City, and Rodri is certainly another vital figure at the Etihad.

The holding midfielder, who joined from Atletico Madrid for a club record fee of £62.8m in the summer of 2019, has established himself as a pivotal figure in front of Man City’s back four.

It is Rodri’s versatility in this position that is perhaps his greatest attribute. He is an expert at breaking up play, but he is also able to control games with his range of passing.

As well as being a key part of defensive set-pieces, Rodri is also a threat for Man City at the other end of the pitch, and supporters will never forget his memorable Champions League Final winner against Inter Milan.
 

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Manchester United

Bruno Fernandes

Fiery Portuguese midfielder Bruno Fernandes was back to his best last season after being sidelined somewhat by the arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo. 

Though he only registered eight Premier League assists, he can look to his teammates for that figure not being higher, having amassed the highest xA tally not just in the Premier League, but in each of Europe’s top five leagues.

Fernandes has looked like a natural leader ever since his debut, covering every blade of grass and constantly demanding more from his colleagues, and has taken on the captaincy at Old Trafford this season.

When Fernandes plays well, United play well, and their hopes this season will largely hinge on the form of their new skipper.
 

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Newcastle United

Bruno Guimaraes

The first big-money marquee signing of the Howe era at Newcastle was Brazil international midfielder Bruno Guimaraes, who joined for a reported £40m from French club Lyon in January 2022.

Guimaraes immediately endeared himself to the Newcastle supporters by scoring on his full debut against Southampton, one of five goals he struck that season.

The 25-year-old is a firm fans' favourite on Tyneside and although his performance levels arguably dropped slightly towards the end of last season, there is plenty of excitement around regarding the partnership he could form with summer recruit Sandro Tonali in the middle of the park.
 

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Nottingham Forest

Morgan Gibbs-White

Arriving at the City Ground with a hefty price tag last summer, signed from Wolves for a club record fee which could rise to £42.5m, Morgan Gibbs-White proved to be an influential figure for the Reds as they were able to retain their Premier League status.

Ending last season almost in a free role in attacking midfield behind Awoniyi as part of Cooper's preferred 3-4-2-1 set up, Gibbs-White ended the campaign with a commendable 13 goal contributions - five goals and eight assists

.A technically gifted player who also possesses the strength and aggression required to stand up to the physical demands of the Premier League, Gibbs-White's form at the back end of last season was so impressive that his name began to be touted for a potential call-up to Gareth Southgate's England squad.

The 23-year-old will no doubt be harbouring ambitions of forcing his way into the senior international fold ahead of next summer's Euros in Germany, after starring for England's Under 21s in the off-season as Lee Carsley's side were crowned European champions in Georgia and Romania.
 

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Sheffield United

John Egan

Following the departure of key duo Iliman Ndiaye and Sander Berge in the summer to Marseille and Burnley respectively, Sheffield United club captain John Egan will take on even more importance within Paul Heckingbottom's side in the Premier League.

Republic of Ireland defender Egan was a key part of the Blades side who competed in the top flight previously between 2019 and 2021, and the vocal 30-year-old is still as important as ever at Bramall Lane.

With Sheffield United likely to find life tough back in the top flight following their promotion as Championship runners-up, Egan will be tasked with leading and organising the Blades' back five defensive structure under Heckingbottom.
 

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Tottenham

Heung-min Son

Following captain and talisman Harry Kane's transfer to Bayern Munich in the summer, South Korean icon Heung-min Son will be looking to act as a replacement in both capacities for Spurs this season.

Awarded the club captaincy by new Spurs boss Ange Postecoglou, Son also looks primed to move infield from his typical wide position to a central striking berth, where his clinical finishing can be put to good use.

With summer signing James Maddison and the likes of Dejan Kulusevski and Richarlison in creative roles around him, Son will be confident of regaining his peak form after an underwhelming campaign last season which saw him net just 10 Premier League goals.
 

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West Ham

Jarrod Bowen

Filling the void left by Declan Rice's departure was always going to be a tough ask for West Ham, but with the England midfielder having moved on to pastures new, it will be up to players such as forward Jarrod Bowen to step up to the plate.

Bowen has already guaranteed his place as a West Ham hero after scoring the winning goal in last season's Europa Conference League final, one of 13 he struck across all competitions during the 2022/23 campaign.

That tally was down on his contributions during the previous campaign and Bowen will hope to rediscover the quality and consistency he showed during the 2021/22 season, which culminated in him earning international recognition with England.

If he can rediscover that form then not only will West Ham benefit, but the former Hereford United and Hull City ace could even stake a claim to be part of Gareth Southgate's England squad for next summer's Euros finals in Germany.
 

View latest West Ham Premier League odds

Wolves 

Pedro Neto

Having suffered with injuries over the past couple of seasons, Portuguese winger Pedro Neto finally looks fit and ready to kick on for Wolves in the 2023/24 Premier League season.

Capped four times by his country, 23-year-old Neto has always represented a player capable of moving on to a Champions League club, with the ex-Braga man blessed with outstanding technical ability.

With Wolves struggling for goals last season in the Premier League - the division's lowest scorers - Gary O'Neil's side will be looking for Neto to display his full potential and carry a significant volume of the creative responsibility this term.
 

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