Should more English players move abroad to seek first team opportunities?

Should more English players move abroad to seek first team opportunities?

With the recent rise of Jadon Sancho and Reiss Nelson in the Bundesliga, should more of England’s young talent move abroad?

It’s still relatively rare to see English players playing overseas but with the recent rise of now England international Jadon Sancho, a number of English players of late have been finding it better for their career if they move overseas.

Whilst its common for English clubs to sign players from abroad, the strength of the Premier League has made English players never feel as if they never need to move away from the UK.

However, with Premier League clubs constant influx of players from abroad, our home grown talent are beginning to struggle to find the game time in this country that they need in order to reach their full potential.

Now there are English players represented at top clubs all across Europe including clubs in France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Portugal and the Netherlands.

Why are English players moving abroad?

England was the only squad at the 2018 World Cup in Russia that had its entire squad made up of players that played in their home nation, however in recent transfer windows more English players are becoming attracted to the idea of moving abroad.

The money available in the Premier League has made it so important for clubs to be successful in the top flight. This means that Premier League clubs and even some Championship sides don’t feel inclined to produce talent of their own or take a risk on players from lower Leagues when they can buy ready made stars from abroad.

You only have to look as far as Chelsea and Arsenal to see the problems that England has had when creating its own talent. The two London clubs have both named five starting XI’s in their opening eight Premier League games which didn’t feature an English player.  This causes players such as Chelsea’s Ruben Loftus Cheek, who turned down another loan move to fight for his place at Stamford Bridge, without the game time they need in order to develop.

England are the current Under 20 World Cup holders but barely any of those players are regulars for their club. Only four of the starting XI from the U20 World Cup Final have made a Premier League appearance for their club so far this season with only Lewis Cook, Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Ademola Lookman receiving regular game time at Premier League clubs.

However English players are now finding that they don’t have to stay in the UK to get noticed. The increased visibility of football across the world means the Premier League no longer hold all the keys to the success of English talent. The growing football world and the availability to see matches and goals from all across the World has made football outside of the Premier League so easily accessible. The World is now the platform for our home grown talent and leaving the Premier League is no longer a leap into obscurity for English players.

Are these players successful?

UEFA recently released a statement saying that more than two thirds (69.2%) of Premier League players are born overseas – the highest in Europe by 12% so English talent are being forced abroad if they want some game time.

At the moment its the Bundesliga that’s giving these players the best chance to impress. The German FA focusses on creating talent of its own and the average age in the Bundesliga has now dropped to as low 24.5 years of age and they’re now looking to English talent themselves.

The most high profile of these players is Borrusia Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho. The former Manchester City’s youngster rejected a contract with the Premier League Champions after disputes over playing time and is now becoming a major part of a Dortmund’s side that’s unbeaten in theBundesliga so far this season.

Sancho currently has 5 goals and 7 assists and has become a regular in the Dortmund side.His decision to move abroad looks to be a wise one as the U17 World Cup Winner was immediately trusted in the first team as soon as he got to Signal Iduna Park. He was given the number 7 shirt from the outgoing Ousmane Dembele and his form has seen him called up to the England senior squad at just 18 years old.

In the League last season Sancho managed a massive 684 minutes for Dortmund in the Bundesliga whilst his former City teammate Phil Foden, who’s been brought into the Manchester City first team setup, managed just 45 minutes of Premier League football in City’s title winning campaign.

Another player that’s form has improved following his move to the Bundesliga is former Arsenal forward Reiss Nelson. Nelson joined Hoffenheim from Arsenal on a season long loan for the 2018/19 season and has had a remarkable start to life in Germany. The Forward has 6 goals in 7 Bundesliga appearances and has become a major part of their first team setup.

He’s already played 327 minutes in Hoffenheims opening 7 Bundesliga matches compared to playing just 146 minutes in the entirety of Arsenal’s Premier League campaign last term, confirming that the move abroad is giving him the chances that his talent deserves.

With the recent rise of these English players its easy to get caught up and think that every Brit that plays abroad are enjoying the same success but you don’t have to look far before you see a story that didn’t quite work out.

Scotland’s Oliver Burke was once of the first British players to move abroad in recent years but his story didn’t end in the way he wanted it to. The Scot moved to Bundesliga side RB Leipzig in 2016 for €12 and struggled in Germany. The Midfielder played 25 times for the German outfit but failed to make an impression abroad and now finds himself unable to get into the West Brom side.

Despite Oliver Burke’s lacklustre spell in Germany, the majority of British talent are impressing in the rest of Europe’s top Leagues. Players such as Ronaldo Vieira (Sampdoria), Ademola Lookman (RB Leipzig) and Reece Oxford (Freiburg) have all enjoyed successful moves abroad and are players that are expected to get into the England setup in the future.

Will it be good for the National team

The demand for young English players across Europe is understandable given the quality that’s coming through at youth level. Eric Dier is an example of an English player that developed his trade abroad before coming back to the Premier League when he had developed and that could be the way to go for a number of the countries younger players.

The figures show that these players are successful and with the look at Sancho’s performances in his first two England caps, prove that he’s already ready for this level of football and doesn’t look at all out of place in the England setup.

English footballers have often been criticised for moving abroad but that perception is clearly changing and we could be looking at a brand new stage of English football with a squad full of players not just from the Premier League.

It’s too early to tell how much this will benefit the national team as of yet but if the performances of English players abroad are anything to go by it could be exciting times for England in the future.