Young players need Premier League chance

Callum Hudson-Odoi, Chelsea (Photo by Steven Paston/PA Images via Getty Images)
Callum Hudson-Odoi, Chelsea (Photo by Steven Paston/PA Images via Getty Images) /

As the January transfer window builds momentum, several of the most talked about moves involve talented young players considering leaving the Premier League.

There have been several recent examples of young home-grown players leaving the Premier League for a life and football career in Europe.

Jadon Sancho and Reece Oxford are two players who have moved to Germany’s Bundesliga in search of first-team football and experience after finding their way blocked at their parent clubs in England.

Now there are persistent rumours that Callum Hudson-Odoi and possibly Phil Foden might follow them and leave Chelsea and Manchester City respectively to get a chance to play regular football. And Brahim Diaz has just moved to Real Madrid after failing to nail down a regular place at City.

This situation has become an increasing issue for a number of mainly English players who come through the youth ranks at the so-called ‘top clubs’ in the Premier League and then find that they can’t break into the first-team.

The reasons for this are many involving foreign ownership of clubs, overseas managers being hired and fired with increasing regularity and the huge financial pressures and rewards for immediate success.

These factors make it extremely difficult for young players who have come through a club’s youth system to get the chance of a starting place in their senior team.

Chelsea are a classic example. They have one of the best youth systems in the Premier League, and possibly Europe as a whole, but each summer they farm out an extraordinary number of young players on loan.

Several of those players end up at rival Premier League clubs. One example is Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who went to Crystal Palace last term, had a fine season and was then included in England’s World Cup squad despite not being a starter at his parent club.

Let me be clear I’m not saying foreign managers are prejudiced against English players at all. And indeed many of the talented youngsters produced in the youth systems of clubs like Manchester City and Chelsea are foreign-born.

But the combination of relentless media scrutiny, demands from fans and trigger-happy owners for virtually immediate and sustained success at these clubs, work against managers taking a chance on unproven youngsters.

So those managers aren’t giving them the opportunity to bed in, mature and develop over time, as many need to do. Even if they want to most of these coaches won’t last long enough themselves to see it bear fruit!

Unless you are looking at players who are exceptionally gifted and physically mature like Wayne Rooney, they won’t get enough chance to find their feet in the Premier League. Most importantly they won’t get to make mistakes and learn from them.

But Rooney got his chance at a less successful Premier League club, Everton. And even then despite his immediate impact, it took him two years to begin to fulfil his potential and secure a big money move to Manchester United.

Despite this, I still think that clubs should give more opportunity to their young footballers. After all unless it is simply a business or money-making strategy, why spend millions on state-of-the-art academies and then simply loan out or sell the players produced?

In addition the ever escalating cost of signing established players is making transfer fees prohibitive and pricing many clubs out of the market for such players in Europe or further afield. Ironically the fee for Hudson-Odoi’s proposed move is one such example of how they’re getting so inflated.

Finally Brexit could well introduce another uncertainty into the mix making clubs perhaps reconsider their strategy.

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If it becomes more expensive and complicated to sign players from Europe after the UK leaves the EU, then developing young players and giving them a chance will be even more important and necessary, even for the biggest Premier League clubs.