Lineker, Beckham, Owen, Woodgate, Carson, Mancienne - and now Alan Hutton can join that list. If you haven’t figured it out yet, it’s a list of British players who have played abroad. Of course there are more than that, in fact at this moment in time there are 302 English players who are playing for foreign clubs (note that this includes people playing for Swansea and Cardiff as well due to them technically being Welsh). Out of those 302 English players, 130 of them play in the Welsh Premier League, the SPL, or the Scottish 1st Division. Of the remaining pack, there is one player in the Bundesliga (Michael Mancienne), one in Ligue 1 (Joey Barton) and well, as for players in the major foreign leagues, that’s as far as it goes. Two players playing in a standard considered high enough to be in the running for the national team. 2.
Then you look at the likes of Spain (Silva, Mata, Cazorla, Javi Martinez, Llorente), Germany (Ozil, Khedira, Podolski, Mertesacker, Holtby) and France (Ribery, Benzema, Nasri, Lloris, Ben Arfa) – all contain players currently (or very soon in the case of Llorente and Holtby) plying their trade away from their home countries who are still in consideration for their national team. There are many more for these and other countries as well. The depth of quality that these countries have means that they can have top standard players in both their own domestic league as well as all over Europe - England however have a much more limited selection option than other international sides. This is another problem that we aren’t producing enough top standard players good enough to play in foreign leagues
Our lack of players who are in the top foreign leagues is a worry. Is that due to a lack of technical ability? The overpricing of our players? A reluctance to move away from the Premier League? Perhaps it’s a combination of all of them. What is certain, however, is that our players lack experience of the world game. Recognition of both that and an improved understanding of other cultures of football, as well as the proposed changes to our Grass Roots set up, will undoubtedly lead to improvement in the standard of our players – physically, technically and mentally.
Do we really want our best English players to be playing in La Liga or the Bundesliga instead of the Premier League? No. Would you want to see Jack Wilshere, Joe Hart and Phil Jones at Barcelona, Juventus and Bayern Munich instead of Arsenal, Man City and Man Utd? No. Of course we want our best players to be in our own domestic league, our own pride and joy. However for our players to develop into their full potential for our national team, successfully playing abroad could be the best thing that could happen to them.
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