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Why young England players are looking to Europe

AMBITIOUS: Jadon became the first player born this century to score in the Bundesliga

AT THE end of September at the Rhein Neckar Arena, Hoffenheim were playing Borussia Dortmund in the top flight of the German league.

The game finished in a 1-1 draw but the significance of the game wasn’t restricted to the Bundesliga.

On the home bench that day wearing the number 9 shirt, was 18 –year- old Londoner Reiss Nelson, on loan from Arsenal. On the Dortmund bench, his childhood friend Jadon Sancho, also 18, who was once on the books at Watford and Manchester City.

Between the two of them this season they’ve played 18 times and managed 10 goals and six assists. Jadon became the first player born this century to score in the Bundesliga and Reiss scored four goals in Germany with his first five shots!

They’re good. Their youth coaches knew it, their friends and family knew it, their teammates knew it – and now everyone else does.

Jadon has broken into Gareth Southgate’s England team and there’s talk around the Emirates that Danny Welbeck will be released at the end of the season so Reiss can take his place.
Just last season Mandela Egbo (ex-Palace) and Reece Oxford (on loan from West Ham) became the first Englishmen to play for the same Bundesliga side – Borussia Monchengladbach – at the same time.

Young English players are choosing to make history in Europe instead of wasting some of their formative years waiting for a chance that may never come at one of the big clubs. And it seems to be working.

Ademola Lookman was at Everton having joined them from Charlton and then manager Sam Allardyce wanted him to go out on loan to Derby.

Ademola insisted on a move to RB Leipzig. He came on as a sub in his first game and scored the winner against Monchengladbach. Now he’s back at Everton under Marco Silva who has described him as the club’s “present and future”.

The situation is obvious; you are a fine player taken on by a club at a young age but just as you are hoping for your first team break, your club insists on spending big money on someone already established in your position.

Do you wait it out and take the money? Not if you’re Mandela, Reece, Ademola, Jadon or Reiss you don’t.

Can you blame them? Last week in one whole round of 10 Premier League fixtures only 54 players eligible to play for England started for their clubs.

The average was 33 per cent last season, it’s gone down to 29 per cent and even further to 25 per cent last weekend.

Gareth Southgate says the old arguments don’t work anymore.
“Nobody can tell me that, if players are good enough, they will come through. That is not true. There are plenty of players who are good enough,” he said.

There’s been talk of reducing the number of non-English players in a 25 man squad from 17 to 13.

The Premier League weren’t impressed saying there was “no evidence” that quotas would help homegrown talent or the national team.

But after Brexit – however that is resolved – might that change?
Would it be harder for players to get a work permit unless they are an established star and would that mean more chances for our own youngsters?

Ironically, some of our top women players are playing the opposite role abroad having gone there as established star internationals. Lianne Sanderson and Eniola Aluko, for example, are both at Juventus and have 150 England caps between them. Toni Duggan, at Barcelona, has 60.

I admire anyone who takes their chances abroad to further their careers and opportunities and I commend all the players I've mentioned here.

It’s been good for football and for our society that we welcome new arrivals and their example has improved our game and many lives too.

And if some of our finest young players need to go abroad to prove that, then I'm inclined to think that’s a good thing.

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