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Men's Football The future of English football

TARIK GIDAREE looks at a group of players who must move over the next few weeks in order to further their careers and stop them from stagnating

Name: Patrick Roberts 
Current team: Manchester City
Age: 21 
Position: Winger 

Patrick Roberts is a tricky and skilful winger brought by Man City in 2015 from Fulham at the age of 18. 

He was one of the most promising upcoming English talent, going on to make 19 appearances in that same season for the first team for the Cottagers.

The Football Association also spotted Roberts’s talent as he amassed 47 caps for various England youth sides, from U16 up to U20, scoring 19 goals in the process.

Now 21, Roberts has only made one appearance for City, back in 2015 when he signed, and has been on loan at Celtic since 2016. 

There are obvious signs that Roberts has the potential to be something great but just needs the opportunity from a team to show this. 

Being a natural winger, he has Leroy Sane, Raheem Sterling and Bernardo Silva ahead of him at City and, with the rumour that Leicester City’s Riyad Mahrez could be on the brink, his future is bleak in Manchester.

The space for Roberts is looking smaller by the day and the chance for Roberts to get game time looks slimmer. 

A move away from City could be the best option to get game time, with Burnley and Bournemouth good destinations — both teams could use upgrades out wide. Plus both could do with a player with the quality Roberts has.


Name: Phil Foden
Current team: Manchester City
Age: 18
Position: Midfield

The young left-footed wonderkid Phil Foden, City and England youth international player has been named by many as Man City’s most promising youth player and has backed this up by helping England win the U17 World cup in 2017 — he scooped up the tournament’s Golden Ball and was named in the team of the tournament. 

Last season, Foden made five appearances as City ran away with the league, proof that manager Pep Guardiola sees potential in him.

But with Ilkay Gundogan and Fabien Delph in front of him in the squad, let alone the starting 11, the best option in this moment in time is for Foden to go out on loan at a lower-league club to gain experience and learn the feeling of playing regular first-team football. 

All Championship clubs would be happy to have such a player in their squad but for Foden, a player who been at City since 2009 in the youth system and is a fan of the club, is he ready to leave for a season? Or is he willing to fight for a place in Pep’s midfield?


Name: Tammy Abraham
Current team: Chelsea 
Age: 20
Position: Striker

Tammy Abraham is known to be a tall, quick and skilful striker who can finish the majority of the opportunities given to him.

In Chelsea’s youth system since 2004, he has rapidly climbed up the ranks through to the first team but has only made 2 appearances for the Blues, coming in 2016.

In the 2016-17 season, Abraham went on loan to Bristol City in the Championship, appearing 41 times and scoring 23 goals. 

A amazing goal to game ratio for a 19-year-old, Abraham was sure he would be given a chance when he returned the following season.

However, he was sent out on loan for the second season running, this time to Premier League club Swansea, scoring five times in 31 games.

A relatively OK first season in the top tier of English football, the 20-year-old has returned for pre-season this summer hopefully to be given a chance in Chelsea’s team. 

With three other strikers in Alvaro Morata, Michy Batshuayi and Olivier Giroud all ahead of him in manager Antonio Conte’s plans, it is not the best of times for Abraham to be returning to the club.

At the age of 20 and, still no prospect of regular game time, his time at Chelsea could be up. 

Leaving permanently to sign for Swansea could be a good option and the best for his career right now, as last season he was gifted 31 appearances for them and his place in the team is still there as the Swans have not signed any new strikers.

It could be a move this summer will help him improve and fulfil his potential.


Name: Ademola Lookman 
Current team: Everton  
Age: 20
Position: Forward/Winger

Ademola Lookman, the young English winger signed by Everton from Charlton Athletic in 2017 for £10 million, scored on his debut against Manchester City.

His start couldn’t have been better and things were looking good for him as he was being played frequently.

However, without much involvement in the starting line-up at the back end of that season, he was sent out on loan to RB Leipzig in Germany in January. 

Then-manager Sam Allardyce was displeased with the loan, saying at the time: “It is one of the most unusual situations I’ve been in where we have got some deals for him but he was adamant he chose Germany. It is his choice.

“We tried to persuade him not to because I think it is a big challenge for his development with him not being able to speak the language. 

“We wanted him to go out on loan to play first-team football every week — there were better opportunities for that — but he was stubborn and got what he wanted. I hope he proves us all wrong. I hope that he has every success and brings it back here to us.”

Lookman went onto to get 11 appearances at Leipzig with five goals, four games less than he got at Everton but with four more goals. 

Given his age, the stats show that Germany is a better suit for Lookman and, with Theo Walcott, Kevin Mirallas and Cenk Tosun all in front of him at Goodison Park, a return will bring his career to a stop again.

Going back to Germany to improve isn’t a bad idea, shown by Premier League star Kevin De Bruyne, who was at Chelsea, signed for Wolfsburg and is now at Man City. The rest is history.


Name: Dominic Solanke
Current team: Liverpool
Position: Striker

Joining Chelsea’s youth academy in 2004, Solanke, like many of these talented Englishmen, quickly skipped age groups throughout the years and signed a pro contract with the club in 2014. 

A professional at the club for three years, he spent two of those on loan at Dutch side Vitesse Arnhem, scoring seven goals in 25 appearances.

With no opportunities on his return, he decided to go to the other side of England and joined Liverpool last season on a permanent deal in the search for first-team football.

But with the form of Roberto Firmino and Daniel Sturridge, Divock Origi and Danny Ings still part of the team, the pathway to the top is looking a mile away. 

His move from the Blues was to get a better chance of first-team football but moving to Merseyside might not have been the best of choices. 

Another transfer may be to early to call but a loan spell at a club at the bottom end of the table, or abroad, where he can find his feet in a first team would be a good start.


Name: Reece Oxford
Current team: West Ham United
Age: 19
Position: Centre back/Defensive midfield

England and West Ham academy graduate Reece Oxford has had a tough time making it into the Hammers squad.

With six other centre backs already at the club, his path into the team is difficult given the Irons only play two.

Making his first team debut for the club in 2015 against Arsenal aged 16, he done a tremendous job on Mesut Ozil — leading many to say the Arsenal attacker was in his “back pocket” for 90 minutes — it looked like he had bright future at the club.

But with managerial changes and new players coming in, the bright future that once was is getting ever so dimmer. 

He has since been sent on loan to Reading but only made five appearances, which is nowhere near enough to develop as a player. 

Shortly after his stint at Reading, he was sent out on loan again, this time to Borrusia Monchengladbach in the 2017-18 season.

However, he only made a total of seven appearances.

The places he has been at have produced a limited amount of opportunities. 

This is when a player of this quality needs to take a step back to take two forward. 

Championship football, once again, is a great place to start gaining experience and growing as a player. 

Wasting more years at a club where opportunities are limited is not worthwhile.

Leaving permanently could be the start for Oxford’s development as the past four years have not done him well.


Name: Marcus Edwards    
Current team: Tottenham Hotspur
Age: 19
Position: Midfield

Compared to Lionel Messi by manager Mauricio Pochettino, the young English midfielder has had a tough time taking off as a first team player.

Zero games for Tottenham and only one for Norwich on loan in 2018, his time there cut short due to apparent attitude problems towards training and match preparation. 

The talent is there, obviously, as he has been compared to one of the greatest ever.

Focus on and dedication to football and Edwards could really change how his career will go. 

Staying at Spurs under a manager who praises him for his ability may see him get a chance at Tottenham, even with Dele Alli and Mousa Dembele at the club. 

But leaving for a loan spell and taking it seriously will help him push on at Spurs.

Name: Timothy Fosu-Mensah   
Current team: Manchester United
Age: 20
Position: Right Back/Defensive midfield

Bought by Manchester United from Ajax in 2014, the Dutch defender was hoping to get first-team football in England.

Playing 12 times for United’s first team in 2016, he got a slight taste of Premier League football, a positive sign of things to come. 

However, the following season he was sent on loan to Crystal Palace, though he did make 21 appearances for the Eagles and was one of there main starters.

Returning back to United, the defender has come back to new signing Diogo Dalot from Porto as competition.

An obvious replacement for the ageing Antonio Valencia, and Matteo Darmian still on the scene, it looks better for Fosu-Mensah to return back to Palace, potentially on a permanent deal. 

Palace manger Roy Hodgson has obviously picked up on the talent United have left out of their team and giving him the opportunity where he can fully develop in his.


Name: Ruben Loftus-Cheek
Current team: Chelsea
Age: 22
Position: Midfield

Another star player in the making picked up by Crystal Palace at the start of last season, Ruben Loftus-Cheek was gifted 24 appearances and scored two goals.

That is two more games and one goal received in three years at Chelsea’s first team. 

The 6ft 3in England international showed his quality at Palace and was rewarded with a selection in England’s 23-man World Cup squad this summer. 

A bright future as you might think for this talent, but at Chelsea he’s just another number added to the list of midfielders.

With N’Golo Kante and Cesc Fabregas in front of him in the pecking order, at 22 years of age its much more realistic for Loftus-Cheek to go elsewhere, but to still play in the Premier League as he has shown that he is capable of doing so.


Name: Reiss Nelson 
Current team: Arsenal
Age: 18
Position: Attacking Midfield/Winger

The tricky winger from Arsenal has been with the club since 2007. 

Making three appearances for Arsenal’s first team in 2017, former Gunners boss Arsene Wenger showed he had belief in Nelson by playing him in the Europa League against Swedish side Oestersunds FK in February 2018.

He displayed a mature performance with skill and flair added to it. 

Yet another youngster with many big names ahead of him, such as Mesut Ozil and Alex Iwobi, he looks set to go on loan at the start of this season to pick up minutes on the pitch. 

He has impressed at international youth level, earning 21 caps and scoring 13 times from U16 to U19 level for the Three Lions.

A loan spell to a lower league club should really test what he has and would be great at the age he is at for his future development.


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