Despite the history and tradition, English first flight football isn’t the most beneficial place for a young player to learn their trade. As more clubs in the Premier League have greater spending power, promoting youth has become less of a priority, especially for the more successful teams. Most recently, youth players have opted to play in foreign leagues instead of spending most of the season with their clubs Under 23s and/or playing in frequent cup games.
Jadon Sancho and Ademola Lookman, two of Englands most promising young talents have both moved to the Bundesliga in hope of developing their career. In an interview where Sancho was posed the question to why he moved, he said, “They (Dortmund) have faith in a lot of young players, I think thats really good to develop as a player”. Since the move, Sancho has appeared 10 times in the Bundesliga becoming the first Englishman to play in the Bundesliga for Borrusia Dortmund and most recently the youngest Englishman to score in the league and for Dortmund. Sancho’s and many other young English players’ decision to move to the Bundesliga is justified as Germany’s reputation to promote youth is well established, which is seen through the success and longevity of their national team. In the 2017/18 season, over 60 players aged 21 or under have made 10 or more appearances for a club in the Bundesliga, nearly double that of the Premier League.
Recently, Arsenal youngster Reiss Nelson has been linked with a move to Hoffenheim through lack of first team opportunities with the Gunners. With his close friend Sancho playing regularly for Dortmund, Nelson feels he is on a ‘similar level technically’ and could also benefit from playing regular first team football.
In a recent Interview, Sam Allardyce discussed his experience with youngster Ademola Lookman who moved from Everton to join RB Leipzig. Lookman appeared to have turned down a loan move to Derby as he had ‘no intention of going’. Lookman’s resentment to join a lower league English team could perhaps be explained by the low game time given to loanees in the championship. Other Premier League players have since been loaned to the Championship only to play a handful of games in the first team. Cohen Bramall who joined Birmingham in 2017 only made five first team appearances last season, arguably around the same as he would have made if he remained at Arsenal.
Promoting youth is also less supported in this country as fans and pundits are quick to judge a young player either through hyping them up to be a world beater or criticising them for being ‘unready’. Once Lookman joined RB Leipzig over Derby, Sam Allardyce claimed “We tried to persuade him not to because I think it is a big challenge for his development”. The comment made by Allardyce shows how out of touch some Premier League managers are with what is best for youth players and how to develop them correctly. This is exemplified as Lookman went onto make his Leipzig debut, scoring the winner as a substitute in front on 49,000 supporters; all because he was given a chance.
Written by Matt Butterworth