So with silly season in full swing, rumours are flying out left, right and centre at the moment, with no club escaping the ludicrousness of the rumour mill. One cheeky little rumour that did catch my well trained eye – well when a bottle of wine is around that is – was that of a £12 million bid from Real Madrid for Manchester City and England international Micah Richards.
This got me to pondering for a number of reasons, and exactly what Mourinho was thinking was a prominent one, but that aside, it has got to be just about the only English player who has been linked with a move abroad this summer, whilst a huge number of foreign players arrive transfer window after transfer window.
Think about the international teams at the Euros, or even a World Cup. Most have players who play in all the major leagues across Europe – most except for England that is.
Of course there are the occasional whispers of Lampard to Inter Milan, or Rooney to Madrid, but these are most likely created by an anonymous tip off to a tabloid paper from the player’s agent themselves around contract negotiation time.
It is so rare that a genuine move materialises for an English player to go abroad – you can count them on your hands for the past few years –Owen, McManaman, Woodgate, Gazza, Beckham, Lineker, Keegan and Ince. Even the younger players do not seem interested or required for a move – Elliot Kebbie is the only one who has made the move to La Liga in recent times, but why is this?
Is it simply because other clubs view English players as not tactically or technically gifted enough? Or is it the players themselves unwilling to have a dramatic change in life or culture for even just a couple of years? Everyone knows footballers are not exactly renowned for their IQ scores, but if Joe Cole (who Lampard claimed isn’t the sharpest tool in the box) can spend time on loan at Lille in France, anyone can do it – yes, Wayne, even you!
It seems a shame that English players do not take advantage of such moves that could be open to them, where they can improve their game by playing in a new league – perhaps the Premier League is so good that players do not need to move abroad – yet the lack of players abroad arguably has an effect on the national team, and not a positive one.
Nearly all other national teams, even the German one, have players who have spent time playing in a variety of other leagues, and it is this experience that they bring to the table and use to improve their team further during international tournaments.
In times gone by, it could be put down to club loyalty, with players like Giggs or Scholes having the chance to move if they so wished, but preferring to stay at the club they loved, yet in the mercenary modern game, there are very few who feel like this – see Nasri, Cashley and now RVP for further referencing material on this point – but it is safe to say, club loyalty is not paramount anymore.
Of course, players are now more keen than ever to end their playing days in the MLS or Asia for a big pay check, but this is not comparable to a move to a Real Madrid or AC Milan at the peak of their powers, and from the looks of things, sadly for the players and the English National team, this does not look set to change any time soon and more worryingly the only reason for a lack of change is that the majority of English players simply are not rated by top European clubs.