Brits Abroad – Why the Grass is Greener

For most British players, venturing to a foreign league isn’t really a consideration. This article will attempt to explain why moving to another country could really be a blessing in disguise.

In the last few years, there have been just a handful of cases of British players moving abroad to ply their trade, with the most high profile case being Gareth Bale’s move to Real Madrid. Since that move in 2013, there hasn’t been a British player of that profile that has taken the leap. Should more British players do that, this article will establish exactly that.

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The home nation countries, England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, have all struggled to achieve on the international stage, with only Wales reaching the semi-finals of an international tournament in the last 20 years. It’s safe to say that there is a need to look at why the players are not succeeding for the nations in the same way as their club colleagues do.

Germany, world champions in 2014 for the fourth time, had a squad that comprised of players from four different countries, arguably the four leading leagues in the world. This difference of approach, bred by playing in another environment, in key players such as Andre Schurrle (Chelsea), Mesut Ozil (Arsenal) and Sami Khedira (Real Madrid) gave Germany an edge that wasn’t represented in Britain’s only side at that competition, an England side that would not even break out from the group stages.

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England’s most recent squad shows this closed market for international selection, without a single player that plays abroad being represented. That should be a signal for players on the periphery of the squad to look at ways in which they can distinguish themselves from the competition, moving abroad is an avenue to do just that.

In the last year, the first signs of a different approach to development for young English players is becoming clearer. Jadon Sancho, a player tipped to do the unthinkable and break into the Manchester City first team in the near future, decided to take a risk and push for a move to Borussia Dortmund, Germany’s second biggest club, and he was handed the number seven and the chance to impress on a big stage. It is clear that this is a very viable opportunity to develop in a new environment that is only a one-hour flight from home.

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There have been a few players to follow Sancho’s example, Reece Oxford and Ademola Lookman have both taken the step of moving, if only temporarily, to the Bundesliga with Borussia Monchengladbach and Red Bull Leipzig, respectively. The fruits of this choice are yet to be seen, but it would stand to reason that if a player gets a varied development, with opportunities to play in a competitive league.

In summary, moving abroad does carry risk but if a player doesn’t take risks in choosing the right club to develop with, it can stunt the development of a player, for example, the cases of numerous players that go on loan from big clubs to smaller clubs in the same country when moves abroad are a viable alternative. The grass may well be greener on the other side of the channel.

What do you think? Should players look for moves abroad to aid their development or are the risks too high?

Featured Image Created by: Charlie Pumfrey
Images within the article courtesy of Getty Images

2 thoughts on “Brits Abroad – Why the Grass is Greener

  • March 26, 2018 at 3:43 pm
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    Great work Charlie, a really nice piece to read! Personally, I think more British players should look to gain some experience in overseas leagues. This will expose them to the different football cultures and playing styles.

  • May 2, 2018 at 1:04 pm
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    Enjoyable piece to read, good topic. Maybe a follow up piece, with interviews abroad,to see if these players feel they made the right decisions.

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