Chances for Premier League youngsters getting dim?

Snehanjan Banerjee / 07 September 2015

English Premier is the self-proclaimed best league in the world. Keeping the debates of the league being the best or not aside, it is undoubtedly the most competitive league in the world. Every week, we see some upsets in the league and one match can change the fortunes of the league. 

The league has seen huge investments from rich owners who are attracted to the league thanks to its huge revenue. The spending has brought players like Xherdan Shaqiri, Andre Ayew, Dimitri Payet to mid-table teams. 

The standard and the level of the competition has stepped up thanks to the massive spending but is the spending on the right way? Does this secure the future of the clubs and is it helpful for the clubs’ vision and impression?

In the last five seasons, the teams to be crowned champions have provided league debut to only one player coming from the youth academy combined. The player was Ruben Loftus-Cheek in the last season. Other than a few seconds of stoppage time in Chelsea’s January draw with Manchester City, his time on the pitch came after the club had clinched the title.

Before last season, The Premier League title went to Manchester for four successive seasons. Manchester United won it in 2010-11 and 2012-13 seasons and Manchester City in 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons. Bothe the Manchester giants did not field a single youngster in their title-winning campaigns.

The level of competition has been so tough nowadays that the clubs do not want to risk youths and potentially lose the game. Therefore, it has become tough for young players to break into the first team in the last few seasons. 

Last season, two youngsters made it to the highest level of Premier League with Jack Grealish of Aston Villa and Harry Kane of Spurs and not many youngsters will get at the level of these two due to lack of chance. Both the players were given breakthrough by the current Villa manager Tim Sherwood. Kane was given chance by Sherwood while he was in charge of Spurs as the interim manager in 2013-14 and last season, Kane became a pivotal player for Spurs scoring 31 in all competitions and 21 of those were in league. Taking charge at Villa Park, he quickly identified the potential of Grealish and the player was promoted to the first team and played on a regular basis and won Aston Villa Young Player of the Year.

It hurts the fans as well as the structure and philosophy of the club when a promising player cannot fulfil his promise given lack of game time. Most clubs’ fans envy Spurs fans’ chant for Kane, “One of our own”. Considering the way the game is going they may not sing the same for their youngsters in future.

So, how many of their own do Premier League clubs actually play? In order to examine this, and ensure any conclusions are both relevant to current attitudes and have enough evidence to mean they weren’t just temporary quirks of fortune, lineups were examined back to the start of 2010-11.

The number of league debuts given to players who had been in a club’s youth system was counted, with their subsequent progress tracked. Appearances in cups do not count and nor do those awarded to players bought for the first-team squad at the age of 18 or 19.

Premier League debuts for youth graduates since 2010-11

14- Manchester United

12- Watford

11- Aston Villa and Southampton

10- Arsenal

8- Liverpool, Newcastle, Tottenham

6- Chelsea, Everton, Manchester City

5- Bournemouth and Sunderland

4- Crystal Palace, Leicester and West Ham United

3- Norwich, Swansea and West Bromwich Albion

2- Stoke City

Youth graduates to play 25 games or more since 2010-11

5 Aston Villa
3 Tottenham, Newcastle, Southampton
2 Arsenal, Liverpool
1 Bournemouth, Crystal Palace, Everton, Leicester,
Man United, Stoke, Swansea, Watford, West Brom
0 Chelsea, Man City, Norwich, Sunderland, West Ham

So, Premier League will never see another Gerrard or a “Class of 92” ever again? If they do not change this attitude, no, they are unlikely to see another of  their own becoming a world beater ever again.

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