The Bundesliga has increasingly developed into a contact point for young Premier League players from which the Three Lions benefit
In the past few years, when England played Germany in major tournaments, there have been a large number of Premier League players in the German line-up.
Rarely, however, have players traded outside of the English game in the Three Lions’ squad.
But when the international opponents meet on Tuesday in the round of 16 of the Euro 2020, there will be two Bundesliga stars in the English squad.
Jadon Sancho and Jude Bellingham have done well since their respective moves to Borussia Dortmund, with their form at Signal-Iduna Park making their selection for Gareth Southgate’s squad almost certain for much of 2021.
Her success at such a young age has in turn opened a path that others are happy to follow.
“One of the things we did after the World Cup in Brazil, we did a big study of Germany and its development program, its youth program. They have an incredible football history,” Southgate said on Monday.
“Even if they had teams that were externally said that they would have a hard time. We won strongly in Munich in 2002 and Germany made it to the final and we were far on the way home.”
“Lately a lot of clubs have loaned our players or signed in the case of Jadon Sancho and Jude Bellingham. This market seems open to the people. Not all have been successful, but” some have been.
“I think it is good for the players to play abroad, it expands their football education, they get different playing and coaching styles. In our country, our players are fortunate enough to work with some of the top managers in the world in their clubs . ” We get an exchange of ideas and football training that didn’t exist in the past. “
Emile Smith Rowe, Ryan Sessegnon and Reiss Nelson were all on loan in the Bundesliga, while Jamal Musiala was an unknown Chelsea Academy starlet and England youth international when he traded the Blues for Bayern Munich in the summer of 2019. Two years later, he could play for Germany at Wembley this week.
Other promising talents have taken the plunge for first-team experience in recent seasons, including Ademola Lookman and Premier League winner Demarai Gray.
“The next best thing is to get them a move to the Premier League,” says an agent who oversaw the move of two young English players to the top German league goal .
“If you put the top five leagues in Europe, I would say that the Bundesliga is number two behind the Premier League, although Serie A may have threatened that lately.”
Per Mertesacker, the former Germany and Arsenal defender who is now head of the Gunners Academy, agrees.
“It’s a great experience to play in the Bundesliga because the pace is just below the Premier League,” said Mertesacker goal in 2019.
“I think going from the U23 to Germany and back to the Premier League is a good step in between. Sometimes you get stuck in the first team’s training bubble. You train with the first team, it looks good, but you need it.” the competition.
“If the U23 is not competitive enough for you in terms of pace, you need another step in between. At the moment we have positive examples of players going to Germany, taking that small step back and developing further in this German system in the Bundesliga.” .
“They fit pretty well. As more and more players leave, there will be examples that don’t work with more and more players who jump on this bandwagon. But we shouldn’t be afraid to take the risk.”
The connection between the two countries means that almost every academy game in England now has a number of Bundesliga scouts on duty in the hopes of spotting the next Sancho or Bellingham.
It is known across Europe that England is currently producing one of the strongest generations of talented up-and-coming talent anywhere in the world, and German teams want to make sure they are at the top of the line to sign them.
But why is moving to the Bundesliga so attractive to British players, especially given the strength and presence that the Premier League offers?
“The problem in England is that there is a block when young players between 17 and 21 join the first team,” reveals the above agent.
“Clubs can buy who they want, managers are under pressure and won’t risk a young academy kid when they can spend millions on a player who has 200 games in La Liga or Ligue 1 or wherever.
“You can see how many players are suffering. I’m just looking at Liverpool as an example; they had Ryan Kent, Sheyi Ojo, Harry Wilson, Sergi Canos and Rafa Camacho. All young broad players with talent who want to advance. None of them have played more than a few games for the first team. Two of them – Ojo and Wilson – are 24 and still at the club.
“They get their first chance, they are approached, they increase their value and their profile, and then it is a new contract and a loan change, trying to increase their value even further.
“And in England it is not easy to get an ideal loan once you have reached a certain level. It’s hard to loan a 19-year-old talent to a top 10 Premier League club and know they’ll play. So this is where the Germany option comes into play.
“If you can’t guarantee a player that he will play, why shouldn’t a player go to Germany? The wages are good, the standard is good, it’s a technical league, but not the Premier League. As a young player you can stand out there if you have the pace, if you are an athlete and if you have talent. “
And while the playing opportunities drive English players to Germany, the chance to learn from coaches who are quickly becoming the gold standard in world football is also too good an opportunity to turn down.
Jürgen Klopp and Thomas Tuchel are currently in the lead, with Julian Nagelsmann likely to be the next German coach to win a Champions League trophy after taking on the leadership role at Bayern Munich.
Their ideas and methods are copied and adapted by coaches around the world, and as such, players are keen to hear from the source how the game will be played in the next decade or so.
What helps English players in particular to get used to these notions is that a number of training sessions within the Bundesliga clubs are held in English so that they can more easily understand what is expected of them on the day of the match.
“I think what a player can still benefit from is the level of coaching. The German coaches and the German coaching structure are tactically very progressive, “says the anonymous agent.
“A player of mine described it like this: In England, in the Championship or League One or sometimes even in the Premier League, you go out onto the field with a few pages of the book to remind yourself of it. In the Bundesliga you are you need to know the whole book from start to finish, inside and out.
“They may struggle with it sometimes and some can’t handle it, but they learn from it and in the end it works.
“I think what also helps is the language. Germany and Holland are much less tough in English. This barrier is not as strong as in Spain or France.”
As Bellingham prepares to celebrate his 18th birthday by playing against the country that gave him his first opportunity to play top national and European football, the natural question is who will be the next English starlet to hit the? Jump?
Highly rated Aston Villa midfielder Carney Chukwuemeka has been heavily linked to a move to Bayern, while 16-year-old winger Jamie Bynoe-Gittens, who has been compared to Sancho by some, has already spent a season at Dortmund after joining Left Manchester City in the summer of 2020.
“Football is like many other industries, it’s trendy,” the agent concludes. “People see a player going to Germany and doing well, and they follow. They want to “do a Sancho” or “do a Bellingham” and the players are the same. “
That can only be of benefit to Southgate and his successors as England look to end their 55-year wait for a big trophy.
“The more English players go on another trip, the national team can help or they go on another trip,” said Mertesacker.
“Jadon Sancho is coming back and playing for England because of this trip, where he learned a lot and made use of these facilities. I’m actually quite excited about it for English and British football.”
Additional reporting from Neil Jones.