Young British soccer players learning overseas

By Jovan Belev Source:Global Times Published: 2019/7/18 14:38:40

Jadon Sancho of England controls the ball during the UEFA Nations League match against Switzerland on June 9 in Guimaraes, Portugal. Photo: VCG

"You want our best learning from our best rather than them going over and helping the Germans develop, perhaps," was a quote from England manager Gareth Southgate.

This was ahead of friendlies against Brazil and Germany where he had picked a youthful squad. The point was one he felt he should make as at the time several young English players had headed to German Bundesliga sides to develop their careers rather than stay in England.

At the time Jadon Sancho and Reece Oxford had begun the exodus. Sancho had left for Borussia Dortmund from Manchester City while Oxford had moved from West Ham United to Borussia Monchengladbach. If Southgate felt that these moves had their drawbacks, then Sancho must have helped dispel them.

In his two seasons in Germany, the winger has become one of the first names on Southgate's teamsheet and is regarded as the second most valuable teenager in European soccer behind Paris Saint-Germain's World Cup winning France striker and Real Madrid target Kylian Mbappe.

Sancho has scored 13 times and provided 21 assists in 46 games with Dortmund over the last two seasons - 12 goals and 17 assists came in his 34 games last season as he became one of the club's most important players.

We will never know whether Sancho would have got the same first team minutes had he stayed at Manchester City but there is no denying that there were a number of experienced first choice internationals competing for every spot in Pep Guardiola's side. A look at the case of Phil Foden, the only youth player at the club spoken of in even more glowing terms than Sancho, has seen a less heavy workload over the last two seasons in Manchester.

The pair were teammates at the Etihad Academy and also in the England under-17 team that won the 2017 under-17 World Cup in South Korea but Sancho is the one who has moved on to first team regular and full international. Sancho's move might be something that offers a blueprint for the full national team emulating the success of England's youth teams on the biggest stages.

Former England international Frank Lampard described club cliques as a "real negative of the England squad over the years" when he spoke of his Three Lions career to Copa90 in 2017. While that is said to have improved remarkably under Southgate, as evidenced by the team's run to the semi-finals of the World Cup in Russia last summer, there's still a risk with players who spend their seasons competing against one another struggling to unite on England duty.

English players playing their club games overseas mean that the Three Lions might get the feeling that Lampard longed for when he saw his Brazilian and Argentinean clubmates head off for and return from international duty. 

Sancho is already a part of that and it seems that there will only be more following the poster-boy's path in the future. German clubs in particular have made no secret of their desire to recruit English players - as Bayern Munich's pursuit of Calum Hudson-Odoi from Chelsea has proved - but scouts from all over Europe are permanent fixtures at English academy and reserve games.

Reiss Nelson - Hoffenheim

The Arsenal forward was a revelation on loan with Hoffenheim last season where he scored seven goals and laid on one assist in 23 games. He has since returned to the Gunners and has been spending preseason with Unai Emery's first team.

Jonjoe Kenny - Schalke 04 (loan)

The young Everton defender revealed that Sancho and Nelson were the inspiration for his decision to leave Goodison Park for Gelsenkirchen on a season-long loan. 

The 22-year-old featured for England under-21s in their disappointing European Championships campaign this summer but he caught the eye with a long range goal against Croatia. 

His Everton teammate Ademola Lookman took the plunge with a move to RB Leipzig for the second half of the 2017-18 campaign and he excelled in Germany.

Marcus McGuane - Barcelona

The defensive midfielder became Barcelona's first English player since Gary Lineker with an appearance in the Copa del Rey in March 2018 but he has been with the B team since. Last season he played 16 times in the Spanish third tier after the club were relegated the season before.

Keanen Bennetts - Borussia Monchengladbach

The forward swapped Tottenham Hotspur for the Bundesliga a year ago and he scored on his debut in preseason. Last season was spent with the German side's reserves but that did not stop him from being nominated on Tuttosport's prestigious Golden Boy shortlist for 2019. 

The 20-year-old Londoner, who speaks fluent German from his German-born mother, needs to kick on this coming season.

Jonathan Panzo - Monaco

The defender made his debut for Monaco last season when he was handed a start in the Coupe de Ligue against Lorient in a game they won in December.

Stephy Mavididi - Juventus

The former Arsenal youth teamer made his Juventus debut last season when he came off the bench to play 21 minutes against SPAL in April. 

He also made the bench a further three times for the Serie A champions and played 34 times for the Turin giants' under-23 side in his first season since leaving London.

Louie Barry - Barcelona

The 16-year-old has just swapped West Bromwich Albion for Barcelona where he will be part of the club's famed La Masia academy and play for the under-19s next season. He turned down Paris St Germain and the offer of a professional contract with the English club.
Newspaper headline: Englishmen abroad

Posted in: SOCCER

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