In recent years, there has been a strong debate whether the influx of foreign footballers in the Premier League is hampering the growth of English players. The top clubs are looking for readymade stars and are not always keen to give young players a chance.
Some claim that this is the key reason why England have not achieved success in major international competitions over the last decade or so. If young and budding English players are not given a chance to show what they can do, then how will they develop?
FA chairman Greg Dyke waded in the debate at the weekend when he claimed that it is “pretty depressing” that the likes of Chelsea and Manchester City hardly have English players in their team. While the Citizens won the Premier League title on Sunday, Jose Mourinho’s Blues finished third.
James Milner is one of only two regular English players for Manuel Pellegrini’s side, Joe Hart being the other. Both have been called up to the 23-man England squad for the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil and both are likely to start for the Three Lions.
Milner joined City from Aston Villa in 2010 and has yet to make 25 or more league starts in a single campaign. However, the 28-year-old has proved to be an important player for his team and has played his part in City’s Premier League triumphs in 2012 and 2014.
The former Leeds United and Newcastle United midfielder has now defended City’s recruitment of foreign players, and has stated that he has become a better player because of it.
‘I’ve been here four years playing alongside David Silva, Sergio Aguero and these kind of stars, and I’m a better player than I was four years ago’, The Mirror quotes him as saying. ‘You’re constantly fighting for your place. You’re under pressure every time you step out on to the pitch’.
The Premier League is what it is because of the foreign players. Can anyone sincerely lament the fact the likes of Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp, Robert Pires, Ruud van Nistelrooy and Eric Cantona all featured in what is the world’s most popular football league?
However, it cannot be ignored that clubs do indeed tend to go for readymade stars instead of giving youngsters a chance. There are a lot of average foreign players who are signed for ludicrous amounts of money and then they fail to perform. The Premier League lacks a balance between homegrown English talent and expensive foreign imports, and it needs to address this issue.