Why is the Bundesliga a new home for young English stars?
The Premier League is a very competitive league that demands every inch of performance from its players. This is why many see the league as the most competitive league in the world. On the other hand, that high standard leaves little room for a young player to learn and make mistakes. The high stakes discourage clubs from offering their academy players opportunities. it should be no surprise that many seek out top clubs in foreign leagues who will. Recently, the Bundesliga became a fashionable destination.
When youngsters burst into the limelight after an outstanding age-grade tournament with either club or country, a need to build on that success develops. Expose most young players to that pressure and they'll break. Loan deals to clubs in the Championship or lower-half Premier League teams are the traditional method to find playing time for up-and-comers. Many now prefer the Bundesliga. Former Manchester City academy star Jadon Sancho is enjoying a good start to life at Borussia Dortmund, Ditto Reiss Nelson who is on loan at TSG Hoffenheim.
Both are 18. Youth hasn't hindered either. Nelson's scored six Bundesliga goals in seven appearances. Sancho potted four in the league alone. The pair received call-ups to the Three Lions for the just-completed international break. Other academy players chafing at the bit must take notice. BBC interviewed them in advance of their spell with England. Each waxed positively about the Bundesliga.
When English starlets travel abroad to learn new styles and philosophies, it can only be good for English football. That doesn't necessarily mean the Premier League, though. There's no guarantee they'll want to return to sit on the bench behind an international star. Both Ademola Lookman and Reece Oxford returned from the Bundesliga to Everton and West Ham respectively to precisely that scenario. What little experience young English players have tells them it's a competition for finished products only. They may feel other leagues will treat them better. It was home for youngsters coming through the ranks across the country.
Previous generations rarely travelled. When they did it was either the unwanted such as Roy Carroll and Jonathan Woodgate or the most talented young stars, such as Michael Owen and David Beckham. Many young stars now aren't looking for adventure as much as opportunity. The Bundesliga opens the doors to La Liga and Serie A's top clubs.
Few and far between are bosses like Jurgen Klopp and Mauricio Pochetinno who trust youth stars enough to bench and even sell established players. Klopp's confidence provided playing time for Andrew Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold. Pochettino coped with Kyle Walker's departure because Kieran Trippier had been waiting in the wings and Kyle Walker-Peters was pushing them both. Toby Alderweireld's injury wasn't too harmful because Davinson Sanchez and Juan Foyth were ready to step up. The more clubs that adopt a system favouring young players, the better off both the Premier League and England National Team will be.
Until then, young stars such as Jadon Sancho, Reiss Nelson, Mandela Egbo and formerly Ademola Lookman and Reece Oxford will emigrate to pursue their dreams.