This summer window has been an interesting one in England so far.
Yes, there’s been the big Lukaku transfer to Manchester United and Bakayoko to Chelsea but I’m not talking about that.
The interesting part of the window is the amount of young English players who have decided to take their talents abroad and depending on the success they have could potentially have set the precedent for a new trend with young English talent.
We are only a few years removed from when Tom Ince, an England U21 player and highly rated young player turned down the likes of Inter Milan and Monaco to sign for Hull City, sending the football world into hysteria. He stated his reasoning to be that he could potentially feel “lost” being English in a foreign land and that put him off, which is more than fair enough.
This however though highlighted an issue that we have – the issue being that although we have players talented enough to play anywhere they like there’s a fear of change and movement. Being so used to the system that they’re in caused them to be comfortable even when big, historic clubs came calling.
Tom Ince wasn’t the first nor will he be the last to do this but I feel the tide could shift in the next couple of years.
English players moving abroad is nothing new. Some of the best English players have tried their hand abroad, from Kevin Keegan, Gary Lineker and Paul Gascoigne right through to Steve McManaman, David Beckham and Michael Owen. There was never a stigma when it came to moving around and was seen as the norm.
However, nowadays it seems as though it is only the misfits and “bad boys” who move abroad, with players like Joey Barton and Jermaine Pennant falling into that category.
It has not been successful recently but I believe it shouldn’t be off putting to youngsters. I’ll explain why.
I believe any young player moving abroad will fare better than players who are transferred in the “prime” of their careers because the clubs receiving them will treat them as projects rather than acquisitions. They will nurture them as provide them with a football education along with experience, and, more often than not, if they’re good enough they will be given an opportunity to play.
Even the time they may spend in the reserves will be at a competitive level, playing in the lower division of their respective league against other professional teams as opposed other reserve sides – therefore preparing them both physically and mentally.
Pep Guardiola recently said that some of the talented youngtsers at Manchester City’s academy were not ready to “compete” for a first team place because the U23 leagues are not competitive enough.
Well, now, this can change.
Back to this summer though. There has been a few interesting deals this summer, with Reece Oxford joining Borrusia Monchengladbach on loan which sees him follow in the footsteps of youth Chelsea defender Andres Christensen who has excelled in the two seasons he spent on loan there, which could be very beneficial for the West Ham defender who is still learning the game.
George Dobson, Dan Crowley and Mukhtar Ali all moved permanently to the Eredivisie, a league which has proved fruitful for a few Manchester City and Chelsea players in recent years, the stand out being Lewis Baker who has gained a good reputation for being a scorer of some superb goals in Holland.
His and others success’ over there have bridged the gap between England and Holland so these players have a chance to be very successful as the Dutch appreciate and nurture technical players. I believe these are very good moves for those players.
The two players I want to focus on are former Arsenal duo Chris Willock and Kaylen Hinds who both left The Emirates in order to continue their careers abroad with Benfica and Wolfsburg respectively. These moves were interesting to me as they were highly touted by Arsenal but opted to bet on themselves and take their talent to the continent, which is very admirable.
In both instances, I think these moves were smart as both clubs have been responsible for creating some great players. Benfica made stars out of Angel Di Maria, David Luiz and Nicolas Gaitan – all foreign imports, joining at around the same age Willock did and ended up developing into some of the top players in Europe.
It is also an exciting prospect because Eric Dier of Tottenham came to England from Sporting Lisbon a diverse, technical player who offers something very different to other English players in his position and I firmly believe this is due to the education he received over there – something I believe Willock could definitely benefit from.
In the case of Hinds, I believe he’s at a club which is almost the perfect stepping stone for young players, which players like Kevin De Bruyne and Julian Draxler who came in as highly rated prospects, spent a couple years there and then went on to Manchester City and PSG respectively as world beaters. I think they’re a club that could offer him an opportunity to show the ability that he has and make a real name for himself in the next few years at a big club. If he takes his chance with both hands his opportunities could be endless by the time his contract is up.
In conclusion, I want to express my pleasure in seeing young players taking a calculated risk in plying their trade abroad, becoming more cultured and breaking the “Glass Ceiling” of Youth Football”.
I think long term it can only be beneficial if they’re successful as we could have players from different leagues playing in the national team, bringing different styles and qualities to the team – so we have diversity in each position. I
hope these players are successful in their venture and can be a shining example of the quality of our nation that is hidden in our youth system so more young players have the option to move abroad.