Is the Premier League ruining the Wonderkids of the World?


Every year, you see a host of Premier League teams snapping up the next big thing from all over the globe – Man Utd got Paul Pogba in controversial circumstances, Chelsea signed Lazar Markovic, Liverpool signed up Suso and so on…But how many of them actually make it to the first team?

The answer – very few! Every summer, there are lists of unknown youngsters being released, and none of them had ever been in the first team squad. If these teams spent as much time and money on developing young British players as they did on kids from all over the shop, England may have a realistic chance of success on the world stage.

I remember a young Slobadon Rajkovic, a Serbian centre back, being touted as a potential world-class player. He went to Chelsea in 2007, spent 3 years on loan in Holland with PSV, Twente and Vitesse, then was sold on to Hamburg in 2011. Pointless.

The common trend you see is most go on to re-build their careers elsewhere and have great success. The amazing stat is Chelsea have over 45 kids of all nationalities out on loan all over the world – 45+!

The other common trend – very few get near the first team squad. Paul Pogba, now seen as a world class talent, was refused more first team football at Man Utd and a pay-rise, so left and went to Juventus, instantly announcing himself on the world scene as a superstar. Man Utd left red-faced on this one. Chelsea spent a small fortune bringing in Kevin de Bruyne, he had a couple of games, and within a year has been sold to Wolfsburg where he had a spell on loan for £17m. Again, pointless. Kevin was quoted as saying he had lost his joy for the game, and that Jose Mourinho basically ignored him and gave him the same old “strong competition, train hard, you might get a game” rubbish he told all fringe players.

These teams buy the best so they don’t have to produce any, then never give them half a chance. On to Nemanja Matic – wonderkid – purchased by Chelsea, loaned out here and there, sold to Benfica as part of the David Luiz deal. Made a name for himself at Benfica, and amazingly re-purchased by Chelsea for £22m! Chelsea seen to epitomise this theme of wasting talent. Lazar Markovic, purchased for £7m last summer…at Benfica. Wonder what will happen there?

They also are contributing to the demise of a few leagues around the world. They have Feeder clubs like Vitesse and PSV – at Vitesse they have Cuevas, Atsu, Van Aanholt, Piazon, Hutchinson and Traore. All wonderfully talented players, and no surprise Vitesse are top. The Dutch media and other clubs aren’t happy with it. You can pretty much guarantee none of these players will get into the Chelsea first team, as by the time they get even close, Chelsea would have brought in another Mohammed Salah, or Matic or Andre Schurrle. They will just be sold on to a smaller club and the entire move to England would be a waste of time and effort.

We cannot be too harsh on Chelsea, although they are a culprit, there aren’t the only ones. My own club, Newcastle – have done similar. Under Dennis Wise’s unwise spell at the club – they brought in Fabio Zamblera, Tamas Kadar, Ole Soderburg, Ben Tozer, Samuel Adjei and a few others, and when Wise left, most of them were gone. Kadar and Tozer both made a handful of first team appearances, so at least they were given a chance, but were not good enough.

English clubs are flashing the money at these young kids – they come to the bright lights of London, Manchester etc expecting to become a superstar, and they are left to rot in the youth teams, being loaned out to teams around the same standard as their original club, and are then simply either released or sold on.

The solution? I think that youth players should have to complete their footballing education at a club in their own country, and then at 18 – its up to them. In South America, players cannot sign for a club outside SA until they are 18 – very sensible in our eyes.

What is refreshing to see is youngsters stepping back and thinking twice before moving to England. I have seen quite a few say they would rather stay where they are and develop before making any move – good on them!