Jamie Carragher has added his weight to the debate on England’s struggle to develop world-class players for Roy Hodgson’s national side by declaring that academies should be prevented from buying in any foreign players.
Top Premier League sides find foreign youngsters far cheaper to buy than the best English talent and Carragher told The Independent that clubs’ impulse to purchase them is blocking the potential development of young home-grown players.
“Academies should be for our kids and if you buy foreign players they should be for the first team,” said Carragher, a new member of the Sky Sports team of analysts for the new season. “I don’t think it should be made easy for players to get into your first team. The foreign players have been brilliant for this country. But it’s at the stage now where reserve and youth teams are full of foreign players – and what chance do young players have if they can’t get into the youth or reserve team? Let’s give them that chance to show a manager what they can do and then ask, are they ready?”
The former Liverpool defender’s concerns about the lack of opportunity for English players are shared by his co-analyst at Sky, Gary Neville, who believes that the current generation of young English footballers are having their route to the top of the game blocked despite being capable of playing at the highest level.
The Premier League said that 95 per cent of 16 to 18-year-olds at academies are British and that 75 per cent of players competing in the new Premier League’s Under-21 competition last season were British, including 16 of the 22 players in the starting line-up between Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur.
But with a declining number of English players in the Premier League having a detrimental effect on the England team, Carragher believes action is required.
“You can buy a young foreign player for £250,000 but you’ll buy 10 of them and think one of them will probably do well,” Carragher said. “As things are, clubs take these players and say, ‘If it doesn’t work out at the end of the day it only cost us £250,000.’ If I was in a youth team and Liverpool bought the French Under-18 captain in my position, that would deflate me. I don’t think it’s that good for the foreign players either – leaving home at 15 or 16 without their family and friends, adapting to a new style of football. I just don’t think it works.”