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Is Germany the catalyst for growing England’s youth potential?

By Paddy Harris

After speaking to one second year Sport Science student who spent a month at a German football academy, we look into why Germany may be the go-to destination for England’s future stars

The meteoric rise of Jadon Sancho and his success at Bundesliga giants Borussia Dortmund has been hard to ignore. After leaving Manchester City in 2017, the 19-year-old secured his place on Dortmund’s team sheet before earning a place in the 2018/2019 Bundesliga team of the season.

Sancho represents the most successful of the many young English players who have relocated to Germany, with others such as Reece Oxford and Ademola Lookman both making names for themselves in the Bundesliga.

There is a theory that youth systems in Germany may provide advantages over the lengthy route of repeated loan spells in England. Speaking to one Brunel student who was at a German academy in August 2018, he described the contrasting style of play as a key part in developing the technical side of his game.

Albeit more aesthetically pleasing for a spectator, he told of the German sides preference to keep the ball on the ground. The focus on movement off the ball to create opportunities in a slightly more technically strong manner is beneficial for young players. Fighting for points in the lower leagues of the game in England is found by many to have a lingering long ball mentality, something less attractive across Europe.

Another key advantage he highlighted was the separation of reserve and senior teams, with the former being restricted from progressing past the third tier. This he argued, opened the door for potential transfers to other clubs and not just promotion to the senior team.

It’s true that moving to a new country at such a young age can cause problems for players. However, with the inevitable language and cultural barriers that come with moving, players who come from tight-knit families and communities could struggle to adapt.

Despite this, the 2017/2018 season saw more English players making appearances in the Bundesliga than the previous 37 seasons combined which certainly suggests a trend. With English players having less available game-time in the Premier League than their counterparts in their respective home leagues, moving abroad may become the best option to enable our talent to reap the benefits in the future.

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