Back at the start of January, we at Sportito thought it would be a good idea to see which of the younger generation of Premier League stars were truly exciting the fans and marking themselves out as stars of the future.

After all, we thought, who better to give us a guide to the up-and-coming talent than those that are closest to the action – the fans of each club who pay more attention that the papers or the TV to the – sometimes homegrown, sometimes not – kids who are breaking into the first team?

So we set ourselves the task of monitoring the new crop of players in the Premier League via the Twitter mentions. To qualify, we picked out two Under-21 players at each Premier League club and set the social media monitoring engines whirring to find out which ones were getting the most mentions in the month.

At the end of the month, we totalled up the number and we can’t say we were surprised to find that Tottenham Hotspur’s Dele Alli was the player that garnered the most amount of mentions in the monitoring period and hence has been given the inaugural Sportito Under-21 Fan’s Favourite award for January.

Alli has been enjoying a stellar season as midfielder to date, starring not just as one of the stars of Mauricio Pochettino’s title contenders but also for England. Alli was also recognised last season as the PFA Young Player of the Year and he topped the poll with nearly 28,000 Twitter mentions.

His closest challenger came from another young English lion, Raheen Sterling from Manchester City who was back at nearly 15,000 Twitter mentions. Indeed, the Manchester rivalry was replicated in social media with Marcus Rashford from United just behind Sterling at just under 14,000 mentions.

The full list is below:

PlayerClubSocial mentions
Dele AlliTottenham Hotspur27,930
Raheem SterlingManchester City14,813
Marcus RashfordManchester United13,810
Alex IwobiArsenal12,489
Reece OxfordWest Ham/Reading8,411
Ruben Loftus CheekChelsea5,412
Ramadan SobhiStoke City5,365
Calum ChambersArsenal5,021
Divock OrigiLiverpool1,983
Mason HolgateEverton1,037

One of the more surprising names in the top five is West Ham’s Reece Oxford with just shy of 8,500 mentions who no doubt benefitted from the chatter surrounding his loan move to Reading in the January transfer window. The England Under-20 international is highly-rated and is tipped for big things at the London stadium as and when he returns in the summer.

Also notable is what the survey says about the international appeal of the Premier League – the biggest territory for mentions in total was the US, followed by the UK.

We will be continuing the Under-21 Fan’s Favourite for the rest of this season to see which other players catch the eye. Given Alli’s prominence at Spurs, he will likely be in contention again next month, as will Sterling and Rashford. But should any other young star of the future catch the eye of the fans, then the monitor will pick them up and they will receive their due reward.