As Jadon Sancho returns to London to take on Tottenham in the Champions League, here’s a look at just some of the many young English players who’ve made the brave move abroad.
Jadon Sancho, Borussia Dortmund
When Dortmund paid Manchester City £8million for Sancho last summer, it looked like a big fee for an untested 18-year-old. 8 goals and 10 assists later, however, that looks like a total bargain. Instead of sitting on the bench at City, Sancho is playing week in week out on the wing for the German league leaders. And not only has he taken the Bundesliga by storm, but he’s also earned his first senior international caps. If that doesn’t make young English players want to move abroad, what will?
Ronaldo Vieira, Sampdoria
If Sancho is the success story, then Vieira is one of the cautionary tales for young English players. The powerful midfielder must wonder what could have been if only he had stayed at Leeds United this season as Marcelo Bielsa’s captain. Instead, Vieira signed for Sampdoria, and he’s played less than 200 minutes of Serie A football this season.
Keanan Bennetts, Borussia Mönchengladbach
Life in Germany isn’t treating Bennetts quite so well as Sancho. The young forward left Tottenham in search of first-team football, but he is yet to feature for Gladbach this season. At least Bennetts speaks fluent German, so he has hopefully settled in to his new surroundings.
Marcus McGuane, Barcelona
Last year, McGuane became Barcelona’s first English player since Gary Lineker. It’s been a slow start for the young midfielder so far, but he’s getting good experience with the B Team.
Josh Maja, Bordeaux
Sunderland always knew that they would lose their star striker in January, but Maja’s move to France was still a bit of a shock. He’s yet to make his Bordeaux debut, but he was a sub against PSG last week. It beats sitting on a Premier League bench.
Reiss Nelson, Hoffenheim (from Arsenal)
After Sancho, Nelson has been the most successful of the young English players abroad. The winger has mostly been used as an impact sub, but with 6 goals, he’s certainly making an impact. At Hoffenheim, Nelson is also getting Champions League experience, unlike his Arsenal teammates…
Patrick Roberts, Girona (from Manchester City)
Roberts is 22 now and he’s still only played 3 games for City. After a decent spell at Celtic, the midfielder is trying his luck in Spain. Sadly, it’s not going well. Roberts has played 10 La Liga matches without registering a single goal or assist.
Sheyi Ojo, Stade Reims (from Liverpool)
Like Roberts, Ojo is another well-travelled young Englishman. After loans at Wigan Athletic, Wolves and Fulham, he’s now plying his trade in France. Stade Reims sit mid-table in Ligue 1, and unfortunately, Ojo is very much a bit-part player.