After coming from 2-0 behind the youngest of lions roar back to beat Spain 5-2 and are crowned Under-17 champions in India. What chance do they have of making first team football? Sam May takes a look.
To answer the question, you firstly need to view the players clubs. Manchester City provided three of the senior 14 squad or 21%. Chelsea waded in with five or 36%. After that it is single representatives from Liverpool, Crystal Palace, Tottenham, Manchester United and then one each from the championship sides of Wolves and Fulham.
Interestingly 57% of the squad comes from City and Chelsea combined. Whilst a quirk of the stats also sees 57% of the squad coming from London Clubs. But what are the chances of longer term progression to first team football? Not for the odd game and then moved on, but regular Premier action as a full member of a main squad.
If your one of the Chelsea five – it best if you start looking for other clubs now. Chelsea don’t bring through talent. They go out and buy success. John Terry was the last of the rarest of breeds.
Under Pep Guardiola’s guidance City may offer a better alternative. The game is all about winning and right now the Sky Blues are on the crest of a wave. Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sane are young and shining – but neither came through their academy, but they may prove that you can win something with youngsters in your side, thus giving the likes of Phil Foden who was player of the tournament in India a chance.
Steve Cooper the manager, an ex Liverpool academy coach so knew all about the tournament’s top goal scorer – Rhian Brewster who moved from Chelsea to Liverpool when 14 years old to get more chance to make it to the first team. The Merseysiders have already stated he will have a bumper contract when he turns 18 to ward of other admirers. Jürgen Klopp loves to give youngsters a chance. Just ask Ben Woodburn and Dominic Solanke (who went to the Reds from Chelsea pre -season after winning the World Cup in the under 20’s – and player of the tournament).
Angel Gomes of Manchester United is the youngest player of the “born after 2000” era to have already tasted first team action, so he can probably emulate Marcus Rashford. Tashan Oakley Boothe of Spurs can look at Harry Kane who did come through the ranks, and Dele Alli, who didn’t, and see youngsters given a major chance. Nya Kirby of Palace clearly is on the London radar. Ex Spurs and subject to potential “tapping up” allegedly by Chelsea, he may get a chance earlier than expected given Palace’s precarious position.
The championship pair of Morgan Gibbs White of Wolves and Steven Sessegnon twin of Ryan at Fulham probably have the best routes of all to the top. Proving themselves in the Championship may mean premier clubs calling.
For Jonathan Panzo, George McEachran (younger brother of Josh), Callum Hudson Odori, Marc Guehl or Conor Gallagher of Chelsea it’s time to sit and think do I stay and take the money on the junior sides, or move now to be a Premier League star of the future.
Football at the top is ruthless, and it is usually strategy which determines a club, not time and talent. They all deserve a real chance. Let’s hope all of the parent clubs think the same.