Why do England continue to struggle at major tournaments? A question every fan, pundit and journalist alike has been asking for many years. However, after both the Under-17’s and Under-20’s brought home World Cups at their respective age groups, inevitable talk has surfaced surrounding the next ‘golden generation’.
After the success of the Under-17’s winning the world cup in India this year, a lot of the spotlight has surround one player in particular, Phil Foden. The Manchester City youngster lit up the subcontinent with his dazzling displays, scoring two goals in the final as England recovered from a 2-0 deficit to beat Spain 5-2. In the process, Foden picked up the golden ball award as the outstanding player of the tournament, but even with this impressive accolade, he is still yet to make his debut for Manchester City. At his club side, currently top of the Premier League, he has the likes of David Silva, Leroy Sane, Raheem Sterling and Kevin De Bruyne ahead of him, all players that brought with them heavy price tags. It is therefore hard for Pep Guardiola to pick players such as Foden when the club have made significant financial outlays on other players. As the coach, he is under a lot of pressure to win trophies, meaning giving youth a chance is not necessarily high on his list of priorities.
This leaves young players short of opportunities to develop and often results in them being loaned out to lower division sides in order to gain first-team football. Top Premier League teams such as Chelsea have been criticised for not providing enough opportunities for young players and instead loaning them out. Players such as Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Tammy Abraham and Nathaniel Chalobah are examples of Chelsea youngsters not being afforded first-team opportunities but are instead plying their trade at other Premier League clubs on loan deals.
To give young footballers the best chance to succeed at the senior level of international football they need to be given opportunities at the highest possible level by their club teams in order to develop. This is however difficult when modern day football is fuelled by big money international transfers, with clubs viewing foreign talent as a more results-effective alternative to giving youth a chance.