Should more English players move abroad?

Should more English players move abroad?

After a significant spell of speculation, Gareth Southgate finally pulled the trigger on bringing Jadon Sancho into the senior England team, after an impressive start to the season with Borussia Dortmund.

Sancho, 18, has long been one of the most coveted young players in the England youth set-up, having played a key role in the U-17 World Cup winning side of 2017, but was called back early after Dortmund intended to bring him into their first team.

In 368 minutes of first team football this season, Sancho has scored one goal and provided seven assists for his teammates, having hit the ground running under Lucien Favre. Favre saw his potential immediately, saying back in July: "Jadon is a very good player. I saw that right away in the first training session," Favre told ESPN.

"He's got enormous potential, but it'll need time for him to improve and there are some corrections to be made about his style."

Setting Trends

Not since Owen Hargreaves has a player played for the national team before playing in England, though Sancho has the opportunity to break that streak when the Three Lions face Croatia and Spain. He is certainly there on merit, and having Gareth Southgate as manager has only helped increase his chances of becoming a regular in the England set-up, having shown a real interest in bringing young players into the fold.

James Maddison and Mason Mount have also joined the senior squad, while Ben Chilwell is back again after making his debut against Switzerland. Those players are all based in England, but Sancho has been something of a trailblazer for English players moving abroad, most commonly to Germany.

Last season, multiple players moved to Germany on loan, including Reece Oxford at Borussia Monchengladbach, while Ryan Kent had a spell at Freiburg. Perhaps the most impressive of the loan players was Ademola Lookman, who scored five goals during a loan spell with RB Leipzig, who tried desperately to sign him on a permanent basis in the summer.

This year, Reiss Nelson has made the plunge, joining Hoffenheim from Arsenal on a season-long loan, where he will also pick up Champions League experience. So, why are players now making the choice to move to foreign soil?

Sancho Dortmund England

Lack of Opportunities

A lack of a pathway into Premier League first teams is the most plain and obvious reason. The final straw for Sancho came when he was excluded from Manchester City’s 2017 pre-season tour, with the idea of U23 football not appealing to one of the most elite talents in the country.

Instead of sulking, he took his destiny into his own hands, now giving himself exposure to one of the top domestic leagues in European football. Germany is the favoured destination, due to their willingness to give young players an opportunity - something which so often isn’t afforded in this country.

Part of that reason is perhaps the fact it is a less competitive league than the Premier League. Bayern Munich are perennial winners of the Bundesliga, having had no real resistance over recent years, with their dominance meaning clubs can take risks and chances with younger players without the repercussions of underachieving.

In the Premier League, the riches are so great and the league is so competitive that clubs often can’t afford to give players an opportunity. The difference between finishing 10th and 13th can be financially significant, meaning clubs will often go with tried and tested over unknown quantities who are yet to be exposed to such pressures.

With those riches also comes big-money signings, who it is far more difficult to justify leaving out of the starting XI than it is a £25m player. Only the very best or most fortunate are able to make the breakthrough - Marcus Rashford got his chance thanks to a myriad of injuries in attacking areas for United, rather than by design.

Rashford Manchester United

Foden Next?

Sancho is the first of what could well be many that begin to move abroad in search of first-team football, as opposed to being shipped out on loan across the Football League. Former City and international teammate Phil Foden is tipped for big things, but has still appeared just eight times in the Premier League for City and on a talent level certainly has comparable ability to Sancho.

His lack of regular exposure has cost him getting a place in the squad over Maddison and Mount, who have both played regularly for Leicester and Derby respectively.

He, and many others can take lessons from Sancho, whose bold decision appears to be reaping early rewards.


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