Is the global search for talent really paying dividends at Old Trafford?

Many would argue that the global search for young talent has paid off in a big way for Premier League clubs. Across the Premier League, young international footballers have been nurtured with Premier League clubs, thus saving the club millions of pounds on transfers every season. Manchester United may be the best example of bringing these international footballers through. Gerard Pique, Giuseppe Rossi and the exciting Paul Pogba were brought to Manchester as teenagers and made or are making their way into the first team. Can this strategy really be paying off is the players move to another club and flourish away from their ‘parent’ club?

English football has not produced an Lionel Messi. No club has been able to engineer bringing a 13 year old to their club and turn them into the best player in the world. For whatever reasons, the English Premier League does not have the same pulling power over La Liga. The game is too physical at times and players in the mould of Messi’s careers are safer playing La Liga. Is this strategy really paying dividends when Gerard Pique leaves for Barcelona and Manchester United have to sign Chris Smalling for a reported £10m? I am not suggesting that Chris Smalling is not worth the money, only stating that the purpose of the strategy is to save the club millions of pound as a year. There is a distinct flaw in the strategy – many of the players do not want to stay in England.

It seems English clubs are neglecting English talent in search of international talents that have a better sell on price later in their careers. For whatever the reason English players are not sought after across Europe and only a handful of English players have made careers abroad. Is that in fact the tactic of some of England’s clubs? It may seem a very cynical way of looking at what is happening but how one might argue that this is the true motivation.

Do fans and clubs really feel together? There is a large gap between the fans and the players. Twenty years ago the terraces were full of fans that knew the players representing their club. They either went to school with a player or one of the friends or family did. It created an affinity between terrace and player. Has the global search for youngsters destroyed that link? Brian McClair has spoken about this issue.

“It is a global game now,” said United academy director Brian McClair, the former Scotland striker.

“You only have to look at the number of people in the first team and where they come from.

“When I first came down to England, if someone had told me what was going to happen, I would have said ‘No chance’.”

Lionel Messi will stay at Barcelona for the rest of his career. He has been brought up by them and the culture and language suits him. Players like Cesc Fabregas and Cristiano Ronaldo do not have the drive to stay in England. Fabregas and Ronaldo have never hid their desire to play for Barcelona and Real Madrid and most fans accepted Ronaldo’s departure and the same will happen soon with Fabregas. What are Premier League clubs really gaining if players are not prepared to spend their best years at the club who took them on. Frankly, very little. All that seems to be happening is clubs having to purchase players to replace the the young talent that has moved leagues at a far greater cost. Nurturing young English talent in the same way has to be the way forward.

Read more of Tom’s articles at This is Futbol