A big season for... John Stones, Dele Alli, Wayne Rooney and more
By Adam Bate
Last Updated: 03/08/17 10:43pm
The new Premier League season is drawing closer and this week we are examining which players have a point to prove in 2017/18. In the latest in our series we pick out five men in the spotlight, from John Stones to Wayne Rooney.
Pep Guardiola's coaching influence was supposed to be the catalyst for a dramatic upturn in Stones' form following his switch from Everton last year. Instead, the Catalan lost a little faith in the young defender as the mistakes continued to call his progress into question.
However, Stones remains a gifted individual with the potential to be the ball-playing centre-back who Guardiola so favours. At 23, now is the time for the England international to make the next big step in his career and show that he can be the player his admirers believe him to be.
Alli enjoyed a fine season for Tottenham, scoring 18 Premier League goals and picking up the PFA young player of the year award. He has set the standard now and the expectation will be that he can show the rest of the world what he can do in the next 12 months.
The opportunities will be there. Alli had as many red cards as goals in Europe in 2016/17 so he will be looking to do more in the Champions League this coming season and with a World Cup looming at the end of the campaign, this could be a huge year for the young talent.
Newcastle striker Dwight Gayle enjoyed a spectacular first season for the Magpies as he scored 23 goals in helping Rafa Benitez's team to the Championship title. Back in the Premier League, much will be expected of the 27-year-old if the newly-promoted side are to thrive.
Gayle averaged only five goals per season in his three-year stay at Crystal Palace, albeit suffering from limited opportunities. Will Benitez put his faith in the forward to score the goals that Newcastle need or could he have to settle for a bit-part role now he is back in the top flight?
Mawson's remarkable rise continues. The Swansea centre-back was playing non-league football at the age of 20 but spent the summer impressing for the England Under-21 side in Poland as he built on a fine first season in the Premier League.
Now there is talk of a senior call-up and with a shortage of top-class English players in his position the World Cup really should be in Mawson's sights. He will need to have another good season at Swansea but it is undoubtedly a big opportunity for the former Barnsley man.
The romance of Rooney's return to his boyhood club is undeniable and there will be considerable excitement at the thought of how England's all-time top goalscorer will fare back at Goodison Park. But whether or not he will be successful is far from guaranteed.
Rooney is 32 in October and his goal return has declined steadily over the past four seasons. With Everton investing heavily this summer, there will be competition for places. Can Rooney show this was more than a mere sentimental move and prove his pedigree?