After years of believing that the only chance a young Englishman has of making the national team squad is by breaking through into a Premier League team, certain young English prodigies are going against the trend and putting their names into the Three Lions contention by having overseas success.
Since the turn of the millennia, England players have endured mixed levels of fortunes whilst playing abroad. Yes, there have been some encouraging examples including Owen Hargreaves winning nine major honours at Bayern Munich or David Beckham firing Real Madrid to success at La Liga, but there have also been cases such as Micah Richards lasting only ten matches at Fiorientina, Ravel Morrison vanishing into wilderness at Lazio and Jonathan Woodgate at Real Madrid.
Yet youngsters getting their chance abroad has been somewhat of a revelation during the 2018/19 season. Most notably, Jadon Sancho has forced his way into Gareth Southgate’s plans after starring for current Bundesliga leaders Borussia Dortmund, whilst Arsenal loanee Reiss Nelson is not far off from Sancho’s level after an encouraging season so far at rivals Hoffenheim. Add Girona’s Patrick Roberts, Stade de Reims’ Sheyi Ojo and Vitesse’s Jake Clarke-Salter to the list and there is a solid contingent of young Englishmen impressing abroad.
But could there be other – and perhaps more high profile – additions to this list in order to widen the amount of talent that Gareth Southgate could call upon for his ever-improving Three Lions side? Here are six suggestions…
Calum Hudson-Odoi (Chelsea)
The 18-year old wide man was a big hit amongst Chelsea fans during pre-season and as Eden Hazard’s future became unclear over the summer, many thought that Hudson-Odoi would be given his chance by Blues boss Maurizio Sarri to impress at first-team level.
However, it has been a frustrating campaign for the young attacking talent thus far at Stamford Bridge, as the Wandsworth-born man has yet to kick a ball in the Premier League so far this season. He made his first start of the season in all competitions in late November, scoring one and assisting another against PAOK Salonika in the Europa League, thereby displaying the talent that he can bring to a top-tier side.
And with Hudson-Odoi’s chances at Stamford Bridge extremely limited, and several European clubs interested in the winger’s services on both a temporary and permanent level, the youngster could join fellow wide men Nelson and Sancho in pursuing a career abroad.
Dominic Solanke (Liverpool)
The young Liverpool striker made a name for himself in thesummer of 2017 when he guided the England U20 team to World Cup glory in SouthKorea, and many expected the former Chelsea man to take his career to the next level following that summer.
The 21-year old had a promising first season on the sidelines at Liverpool last year, coming off the bench in a Champions League semi-final for Jurgen Klopp’s side against Roma before finding the net for the first time in the Premier League on the final day of the 2017/18 season.However, Solanke has yet to appear for the Reds this season and even finds himself behind Daniel Sturridge and Divock Origi in the forward pecking order at Anfield.
Newcastle and Rangers have expressed an interest in taking the striker on loan in January, but his success at England youth level means that he has the reputation and promise to find an overseas option.
Ryan Sessegnon (Fulham)
Fulham’s 18-year old wonderkid, who can play at left-back or further forward, has got off to a solid start to his Premier League career after achieving promotion with the Cottagers from the Championship last season.
However, Sessegnon’s 16 Premier League appearances for theWest London side so far this season has yet to force Gareth Southgate’s hand with regards to an England call-up for the wide man. With Juventus reportedly interested in a deal for Fulham’s academy product, Sessegnon could take his career to the next level and earn that valuable international call-up by switching west London for Turin.
Marcus Rashford (Manchester United)
The last two years of Marcus Rashford’s career have been both a rollercoaster and a whirlwind of emotions for the 21-year old. The young forward nearly joined Crewe Alexandra on a loan move in 2015, but staying at Old Trafford turned out to be the perfect decision as a year later he was in the England senior squad having broken into Louis Van Gaal’s first-team squad.
However, Rashford has endured a mixed relationship with VanGaal’s successor at Old Trafford, Jose Mourinho, and this on-off relationship could force the England international out of the Old Trafford door. Despite making over 50 appearances in all competitions for United last season, Rashford has only started eight Premier League matches so far in 2018/19.
Serie A side AC Milan are on the lookout for attacking talent and have reportedly identified the 21-year old as a realistic target. But would this move be a gamble for Rashford considering he is very much in Southgate’s Three Lions plans?
Ademola Lookman (Everton)
Everton’s Ademola Lookman went from being a Championship starlet to a Bundesliga regular in the space of twelve months. The winger was a revelation on loan at RB Leipzig last season, scoring five goals in eleven league appearances for the German club despite failing to hold down a regular spot at Goodison Park.
Leipzig went looking for Lookman on a permanent deal during the last transfer window, but Everton’s insistence that he stay in the Premier League suggested that he would get his chance under new Toffees boss Marco Silva. Yet the former Charlton Athletic man has only started one Premier League game all season, and could seek a return to European football during the January window.
Jack Wilshere (West Ham United)
While Wilshere, at 26 years of age, can no longer be deemed as a ‘young player’, he is the example of a player who could revitalise his career by moving overseas. The former Arsenal man’s talent has been clear to see on both club and international level, but has been let down by injuries and a struggle to remain fit.
Over the summer, the midfielder left Arsenal after seventeen years at the north London club to try and gain a fresh start at West Ham United. However, the England international’s injury woes have remained with him as he picked up an ankle problem in early September which has ruled him out for over three months.
Wilshere’s inability to stay fit in the Premier League suggests that the demands of the English game may be too much for him. If the former Arsenal man wants a recall into Southgate’s Three Lions squad, maybe a move abroad is his best chance of achieving that.