Premier League Comes Under Fire For Not Giving Youth Players a Chance


The Premier League has recently been hit hard with some heavy criticism regarding it’s teams’ reluctancy to field young players.

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England’s top flight is widely recognized as one of the worlds most challenging and competitive divisions, but as of this year the lack of challenge and competition given to the teams’ young prospects has been well and truly brought to the foreground.

Meanwhile, the other leading leagues of Europe seem to flaunt their emerging talent in comparison. Ligue 1, for example, has seen 12.1% of each clubs minutes played by those under the age of 21, which is a far cry from the 5.3% accumulated in the Premier League.

These are more than just vaguely interesting, arbitrary statistics, the sheer lack of game time England’s youth are getting has worrying consequences for the countries’ national footballing development.

For starters, the academies of clubs in and around the top flight are diminished in value as first team places are preferred for those signed from overseas. If young players surfacing from academies aren’t given realistic opportunities at the level they are encouraged to play at, it often results in them dropping down a division or two — in some instances it may even mean a change in career!

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This is the crux of the problem, as the redundancy of academies causes the knock-on effect to more patriotic problems.

If football clubs can’t produce the nations newest national team hopefuls in abundance, England will suffer on the world stage.

Many would agree that the English national team has lacked a truly ‘world-class’ player for a while now, and the possibility of that changing does not appear all that likely.

Luke Shaw, Raheem Sterling and Harry Kane — 19, 20 and 21 respectively — are among a handful of players who shine a torch on the ambiguity of the national teams’ future. These three have shown promise for their teams in the top half of the table but it would take a lot more of them before England had another golden generation on it’s horizon.

Raheem Sterling, 20, was named Liverpool’s young player of the season on 19th May.

It appears a lot of concerns over the countries’ footballing future boils down to the reliance to spend big overseas and pay little attention to youth development at home.

Some clubs haven’t even put a footballer under the age of 21 on the pitch this season – Sunderland and Stoke City to me more precise.

The criticisms to recently plague English football seem to carry weight, but whether or not they will be acted upon is a different story. The game time of young players has almost halved since the 2006/07 season going from 10% overall to 5.3%.

But perhaps statistics like these could act as a wake-up call to those clubs with promising prospects eager to impress.

Next: Manchester United not Ready for title challenge