Young British footballers have often been criticised for not being open enough to furthering their football education abroad. Who can blame them? After all, more and more Premier League youngsters are becoming millionaires before they have even kicked a ball for the first team. It has led to many seemingly becoming complacent and as a result not fulfilling their potential.

It’s extremely rare that we see an England international who plies their trade abroad, much to the detriment of the team. Our squad was the only team in Russia composed entirely of domestic based players. It would surely be beneficial for our lads to blend the attributes of a typical British footballer with those of say, Spain, Germany or France. Just imagine a player with the passion and work rate of an Englishman, technical skills of a Spaniard and winning mentality of a German. From learning their trade overseas players will gain a different perspective on the game and the way it is played.

However, over the last couple of seasons we’ve seen a sea-change in youngsters broadening their horizons. Germany seems to be the main destination but Spain and France are also now proving popular. We’ve taken a look at some of the best British talent who’ve opted to move overseas…

Jadon Sancho (18), Borussia Dortmund

The fact that Borussia Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho was reportedly very close to getting on the plane to Russia will only act as further inspiration to young players considering a move abroad. There’s no doubt that had he stayed with Man City, a call up wouldn’t have even been a discussion. Comparisons can be made with City’s own Phil Foden, who despite his prodigious talent, only made a handful of fleeting substitute appearances last season. This surely will not be helped by the arrival of Riyad Mahrez either. Meanwhile, Sancho impressed in his 12 matches for Dortmund last season, and will be looking to build on that further during the 2018/19 campaign, in which he is expected to play a large part. Sancho carries a heavy responsibility with the number 7 shirt that was left behind when Ousmane Dembele departed. The youngster seems to relish the challenge though, and seems right at home in a side packed full of attacking talent. With a potential England call up on the horizon, it could be a massive season for the boy who just 3 years ago was playing academy football for Watford.

Jadon Sancho scores

Ronaldo Vieira (20), Sampdoria

Signed this week from Leeds United where he made 63 appearances, Vieira will become the 5th Englishman to appear for Sampdoria, following Trevor Francis, David Platt, Des Walker and Lee Sharpe. The England U21 international is also eligible to play for Portugal and his birthplace Guinea Bissau and impressed at this summer’s Toulon Tournament. With a price tag of £6.2m, rising to £10m with add-ons, Samp haven’t signed the midfielder to warm the bench. Vieira has big shoes to fill at the Genoa based club in those of Arsenal bound Lucas Torreira, so it will be very interesting to see how he gets on. And in case you were wondering, Ronaldo and his brother Romario’s father was obsessed with the Brazil team of the 90s… hence the names.

ronaldo vieira

Marcus McGuane (19), FC Barcelona

After joining Arsenal aged just 6, McGuane made only 2 substitute appearances for the first team, both of which came in the Europa League. With limited first team opportunities, in January 2018 the midfielder decided that it was time to consider pastures new. A loan move down the leagues to an EFL club perhaps? Not for McGuane. To the surprise of many, he became the first Englishman since Gary Lineker to join FC Barcelona. You could say he did a reverse Fabregas. McGuane spent the rest of the season with the B team playing in the Segunda Division B but was included in the first team squad on one occasion. Even if the former Gunner fails to make the grade at the Camp Nou, having spent his formative years with both Arsenal and Barcelona, he will have had a footballing education that would be the envy of any young player.

marcus mcguane

Keanan Bennetts (19), Borussia Mönchengladbach

A player comfortable anywhere down the left hand side of the pitch, Bennetts has impressed for Tottenham’s development side in recent years, but at 19, still hadn’t made an impression in the first team. Keen to further his development, Bennetts joined Bundesliga side Borussia Mönchengladbach for a fee believed to be £2m in May. BM clearly have a penchant for English footballers at the minute, with both Reece Oxford (now back at West Ham) and Mandela Egbo getting game time in their defence last season. The Londoner shouldn’t have too much trouble settling in, as his mother is German and taught him the language from a young age. Bennetts even represented Germany at U15 level before opting to play for England from U16s to U19s.

Gladbach’s Sporting Director Max Eberl is certainly excited about the signing: “Keanan can play a variety of attacking roles. He has played for Spurs in the Premier League 2 and in the UEFA Youth League this season, and we back him to make the step up to the Bundesliga. We’re delighted he has chosen to sign for Borussia.”

Ademola Lookman (20), Everton/RB Leipzig

Although Lookman is still technically an Everton player, he looks almost certain to be making a big money permanent switch to RB Leipzig after a very successful loan spell during the 2nd half of last season. Their gaffer, Ralf Rangnick has said that “we want him back and he wants to come”. The 20 year old scored 5 goals and got 3 assists from 11 appearances in the Bundesliga and there have been calls for him to be included in the England squad. This would stave off interest from Nigeria, the nation of both his parents. Everton’s loss will be Lookman and England’s gain as he continues his development at a high level with a very ambitious club.

ademola lookman

So… with the likes of Sancho and Lookman leading the way, it seems that this trend will only continue into the future and we will see more of our brightest talents lighting up leagues across Europe. With the benefits that this will bring our national team, lets hope that we will reap the rewards come Euro 2020 and Qatar 2022.

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