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Why are young British footballers moving abroad?

Jadon Sancho, Jonathan Panzo and Keanan Bennetts – just some of the young British players who have moved from English Premier League clubs to play in Europe and find their route into professional football.

Although the English Premier League is classed as one of the most competitive football leagues in the world, with some of the world’s top players amongst its pool of talent, more young British players are now taking a risk and moving abroad. Former England manager Glenn Hoddle has labelled the decision to move abroad at a young age as ‘brave’.

Players are scouted and usually progress through British youth systems at a young age. They can then be a part of the academy youth team set up from as young as six to around eighteen, when they will either be offered a professional contract or released and left to find another club if possible.

Those who are offered a contract will then have the opportunity to play for the first team but will often join the reserves to gain experience or find themselves loaned out to a club where they are more likely to receive playing time.

However, even if a player is offered a contract, the decision to sign is not always straightforward. They can reject it if they feel they will not get the game time they require or do not feel the club is right for their development, resulting in them leaving in search for a more suitable club where playing time is easier to find.

In recent years, young British players have made the leap into foreign leagues on loan, but more and more players are now choosing to leave on a permanent basis.

The appeal for young players of Europe’s other leagues is the realisation that youth players often play regularly in the first team and are given the chance to gain valuable experience. For many of these European clubs, young players are essential to their business models as they are much more affordable, whereas the big stars are often out the reach. Premier League clubs on the other hand, are able to buy international players full of experience and come at less risk.

As such, more and more young British footballers are looking to move away from the Premier League as part of their early stages in development.

Recent stats show that 65 per cent of minutes played in the Premier League are played by foreign players, which supports the agenda for young British players to seek a league or club where they will have more opportunity to play.

The English Premier League has such a high supply of world-class foreign talent due to the attractiveness of the league which means the demand for young talent is lower as teams are looking for the complete package of a player to be able to compete for those top spots and domestic cups.

There has been one stand out example of how taking that risk to move abroad can contribute drastically to potential and development; this player is Jadon Sancho (20) who chose to move from Manchester City to Borussia Dortmund in 2018. Not only has he been one of the stand-out performers of Germany’s Bundesliga, involved in 40 games this season, registering 20 goals and 20 assists, but he has also earned himself a breakthrough into the England National Team, with 11 caps and two international goals to his name.

This is a prime example of this methodology proving to be successful for young British talent.

In an interview, former Premier League player Danny Murphy emphasised his sympathy for young British talent and understands their frustration.

“If you love playing football and you're sat on the bench watching it, you get frustrated.”

He added that “moving abroad can help and aid development due to more first team playing time which is vital in any young players career.”

“I hope that some of the bigger Premier League teams now look at this and think 'we need to be more pro-active in giving our younger players an opportunity in the first team’.”

“I think that Premier League clubs have to learn a lesson from it as well and make sure the best young talent doesn't all start leaving us, because we want to see them".

Author: Bradleigh Amis