Where did all the youngsters go? How not to develop talent…



To coin business jargon, the EPL is the kind of mass-produced product that is driven on overseas manufacturing and international investment. As a result of this, home-grown talent is often overlooked, leaving broken-hearted youngsters and a dearth of British players in the top flight of English football.

Incredibly, the percentage of club-trained players in the EPL has reached a brand new low, with just 11.7% of top flight players having graduated from their academy in 2015. This is down from 13.8% last year, and it means that fewer British youngsters are making the grade than ever before.

So where it did it all go wrong for British talent in the EPL?

In many ways, the EPL offers an example of how not to encourage and develop young talent. The overall ratio of overseas players in the EPL stands at 59.9%, for example, which just so happens to be the highest in Europe behind of Cyprus. It is certainly the highest ratio of any of the major European leagues, while it is also interesting to note that 41.1% of all EPL players are internationals. So by recruiting Europe’s leading players, British clubs are marginalising their young talent and endangering the short-term future of the national team.

With this in mind, it is clear that the majority of young British talent in the EPL is forced to leave the top flight, seeking out first team football and a career in the lower leagues. This means that there is in fact a wealth of talent present in the lower echelons of the English leagues, which in turn explains why players such as Jamie Vardy and Chris Smalling have been able to climb the pyramid and develop EPL careers in later life.

With local, club-trained talent now at an all-time low in the EPL, however, the time for reflection is at an end. Instead, it is time to act and consider the kind of international player caps that will force English clubs to blood young talent.