Bar a couple, such as Arsenal, West Ham and Southampton – the majority of Premier League academies serve no purpose, other than training players up to be sold on into Europe.
Teams such as Chelsea and Man City are buying youngsters by the tonne, loaning them out all over Europe to complete their development, and selling them on. None are ever good enough to make the grade because these teams just buy a player to fill the position required. So, what is the point in buying the world’s best talent?
Simple – there is no point. Man Utd refused to give Paul Pogba more playing time, and he went for a minimal fee to Juventus, where he has built a reputation as one of the best Central Midfielder’s in Europe. Chelsea purchased Nemanja Matic a few seasons ago for a small fee, and when he was not deemed good enough having played a handful of reserve games, he was sold to Benfica for a little over £2m, or part of the Ramires deal to Chelsea. Fastforward to now and they have got him back for a smudge over £20m. Tottenham brought in Younes Kaboul years ago for £9m, and after a poor spell he was sold to Portsmouth for around £5m. Once he proved what a good player he was, Tottenham brought him back for £6.5m – ridiculous!
Every season each PL team let go of countless players because they don’t believe they are good enough, only for them to go and prove them wrong. Teams should be looking at themselves and the conversion rate from academy to 1st team, and I bet you bar the three mentioned it will be less than 5%.
Chelsea brought in Romelu Lukaku as the “Baby Drogba”, yet after proving himself at Everton and WBA in two loan spells, they still didn’t think he was good enough and sold on for £28m – and what’s the betting they buy him back in 3 years time for over £50m? Barely any foreigners make the grade – and again Chelsea have around 50 players out on loan around the world, none of which will be likely to ever play a game for them. With Drogba’s fitness quetionable and Torres looking like leaving, rather than give someone like Patrick Bamford a chance, who has impressed greatly, they will no doubt pick up another superstar for £25-30m who will last a couple of years and then turn into a flop – look at Shevchenko, Kezman or Crespo…or Mutu, and Pizarro. Fans call it “The Chelsea Graveyard”.
Too many are constantly loaned out to Championship, League 1 and 2 for too long. In Germany they are loaned out at 17/18 to lower leagues, or play in a B team and are ready and used in the first team squad at 20/21. After so many loans these players adapt to the level they play at and tend to stay there. Look at examples from the past – Dwight Gayle was released by Arsenal as a kid and has fought his way back to be a PL player. Newcastle released Alan Shearer and Michael Carrick, who both turned out to be £10m+ players.
It goes someway to explaining why only up to 60 English players get regular game time each week in the Premier League. Managers are not willing to give kids the time of day to prove themselves, and would rather sell on with a percentage clause and buy some hotshot Spaniard or Brazilian who will do it now, rather than spend a little time nurturing kids. Marco Van Ginkel was sold to Chelsea from Vitesse as part of their partnership, and has barely featured since. He has come out and said “Play me or let me leave” – a very sensible lad.
The good thing that has come out of this is that young lads around the world are turning down the chance to move to England, instead going to Spain, Germany, Portugal or Italy as they will be given a bigger chance. Then if good enough, they go to England. Too many youngsters ruin their careers by going to England too soon, with some having the attitude that because they are earning £20,000 a week they have made it, and their arrogance from then on tarnishes them. That is the culture the Premier League have created. It needs to stop, either by limiting the amount of kids clubs can hold at any one time or players at the club.
For example they can have no more than 30 first team squad players and 40 in their Development/Under 18 squads (20 each) – below that is a different matter and is hard to control. But something like this needs implementing.