Why do Premier League teams insist on spending millions on young foreign players instead of having faith in their own homegrown stars?
After watching Monaco’s French teenage sensation Kylian Mbappe-Lottin tear Manchester City apart at times the other night in his sides 5-3 defeat at the Etihad, I couldn’t help but notice that maybe this is why the English national team is currently failing.
I have no doubt that Mbappe-Lottin will someday play for France’s starting eleven and that’ll all be thanks to the fact that he’s been given a chance to play at the highest level (whatever your opinion of Ligue 1).
I’ve also watched Eredivise football recently and have followed the progress of 17 year old winger Justin Kluivert (son of Dutch legend Patrick) since his debut for Ajax early on in the season. He looks every bit as talented as his father was, and whilst only time will tell if he fulfills that potential of course, at least he’s being given the opportunity.
Germany have the likes of the versatile Joshua Kimmich (Bayern Munich), the tough tackling Matthias Ginter (Dortmund), the rapid Leroy Sane (Manchester City) and tricky Serge Gnabry (who had to move from Arsenal to Werder Bremen in order to get first team football) all breaking into their national side.
Portugal have many talents coming through too. After Renato Sanches’ impressive displays for Benfica and for the national side in their trophy winning Euro 2016 campaign, he bagged a big money move to Bayern Munich, where he is making a name for himself. The likes of Ruben Neves (Porto), Goncalo Guedes (Benfica) and Diogo Jota (Atletico Madrid) are all looking to follow in his footsteps as they are all exceptional talents.
The problem with England’s set up is that not many of those who have potential ever get to fulfill it.
Besides Marcus Rashford, Harry Kane and Dele Alli (and maybe John Stones on his day), no real young English talent has broken into the national side in recent times and Premier League clubs should be held solely responsible for that.
Take the case of Reece Ofxord as an example of how young English talent is being wasted.
Oxford was just 16 years old when he bossed the midfield with a calm and dominant display for West Ham against Arsenal as they surprised them with a 2-0 win at the Emirates on the opening day of the 2015/16 season. He kept the likes of Mesut Ozil and Aaron Ramsey quiet that day, despite it being his first ever Premier League appearance.
Incredibly, since then he’s only played six more games for the Hammers and is now on loan at Championship side Reading and whilst yes that will boost his experience and give him more game time, some would argue that he’s already proved that he has what it takes to succeed at the highest level and should be given the chance again.
Oxford isn’t the only talented youngster currently being farmed out on loan though, these guys are too:
Tammy Abraham (on loan at Bristol City from Chelsea) who has 18 goals in 30 Championship games this season.
Chuba Akpom (on loan at Brighton from Arsenal) who has been held in high regard as one for the future for many years by the North London side now.
Patrick Roberts (on loan at Celtic from Manchester City) who has been on fire for the Scottish side this year and has scored nine goals from the wing.
Sam Gallagher (on loan at Blackburn Rovers from Southampton) has scored 10 goals in the Championship this season.
And these are just a few who could cut it in the Premier League.
On the one hand, it’s fair to say that some young Englishmen have been given the chance this season, Harry Winks at Spurs, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Nathaniel Chalobah at Chelsea, Rob Holding at Arsenal and Trent Alexander-Arnold at Liverpool. Whilst others have of course had their chance in cup games, such as Chris Willock and Ainsley Maitland-Niles at Arsenal or Ovie Ejaria and Sheyi Ojo at Liverpool.
So although I feel strongly that a lot of English clubs are holding their homegrown players back, there are other teams who are encouraging them.
Clubs like Tottenham Hotspur, who have grown the likes of Danny Rose, Kyle Walker, Eric Dier, Andros Townsend and of course Harry Kane and Dele Alli into full England internationals should be praised forthe efforts that they have gone to in order to keep England’s national team at a decent level.
Bournemouth are another side who although they may not have players actually playing for the national side, still have a lot of English players in their squad. They have Simon Francis, Steve and Lewis Cook, Dan Gosling, Adam Smith, Tyrone Mings, Charlie Daniels, Andrew Surman, Jack Wilshere and Callum Wilson to name but a few.
Southampton are another team with bags of English talent who are often overlooked by the national side. Nathan Redmond and James Ward-Prowse have featured regularly for the Saints this season and have impressed at times, but neither have had an England call up just yet. They also have the likes of Harrison Reed, Olufela Olomola, Matt Targett (who featured often last season), Josh Sims and Jake Hesketh all currently trying to break through into the first team.
It’s clear that something has to change.
If England as a national side are ever going to truly challenge the likes of France, Spain, Germany and in recent times Portugal for the major trophies, then the Premier League clubs must take on the responsibility of handing young English players the chance to shine.
Stop spending the millions on foreign talent and have a look at your own teams squad first, you may be pleasantly surprised.