Southgate's 'concern' at decline in English players in Premier League

Southgate is concerned that about 80% of transfers into the Premier League in January were non-English

Southgate is concerned that about 80% of transfers into the Premier League in January were non-English

GARETH SOUTHGATE says he is concerned that the number of England-qualified players in certain positions in the Premier League is “deteriorating rapidly.”

Two years ago, the England manager said he was heartened by the fact that about 40% of starters in the top flight were England-qualified. This was a big improvement on December 2018, when just 24.5% (54 of 220) of Premier League starters on matchday 14 were England-qualified - an all-time low.

However, Southgate says the figures are now slipping again.

“It has been around 32%, but that’s down from 35 when I took over [in 2016] and 38 in the years before," he said. "So the graph is clear - there’s no argument about that. The numbers are not going up, that’s clear. 28% has happened in a couple of weekends in the last few weeks.

“We are shorter than the other big nations on depth of selection. In certain positions those numbers are deteriorating rapidly in the Premier League. That’s not a concern for me in the next 18 months but in the next four or five years’ time we have to be really careful.

"I think we’ve got four left-footed left backs in the league at the moment so we will have to start looking in the Championship or elsewhere because the additional part for us is we don’t export many players. I think it won’t hit us [in the England team] necessarily in the next 18 months but if there are 66 [EQPs] players each week [in the Premier League] it does mean that positionally you have to add in what that means.

Lowest number of England-qualified starters in the Premier League:

  • 2018/19 (30 Nov-1 Dec): 54 (24.5%)
  • 2018/19: (24-26 Nov): 56 (25.5%)
  • 2015/16 (26-28 Sep): 58 (26.4%)
  • 2015/16 (3-4 Oct): 58 (26.4%)
  • 2015/16: (7-8 Nov): 58 (26.4%)
  • 2015/16: (5-7 Dec): 58 (26.4%)

“Of course, we've got Jude [Bellingham in Germany] and [in Italy] Fik [Fikayo Tomori] and Tammy [Abraham] but there's 30 Spaniards playing here, there's 30 French playing here. We've got nobody playing in Spain, not one. We've got a couple in Italy. We've got a couple in France and we've got a couple in Germany. So that is what it is really.

“We are pouring millions into youth development and there has been brilliant investment for a long, long period of time and we are seeing some benefit from that in the quality of players but talent has to meet opportunity to get there. If nobody takes a position of trying to protect young English players and their chance then the numbers will continue in the same way.”

The Premier League point out that the average number of England-qualified starters this season runs at about 32%, in line with the five-year average, and that 28% is the season low.

Southgate went on to point out that there have been more Brazilian than English players in the Champions League this season.

"If breaking into the team is the foundation, the Champions League and the upper echelons of the Premier League is the finishing school," he said. "The rest of Europe get their foundation in their own domestic leagues and then the cream is sold around the big five leagues and they get the finishing school at the end.

"At the moment, we are a long way behind France and Spain on those numbers and it is really interesting that Brazil, who obviously have a really powerful domestic league, now have as many players playing Champions League - or more than we have. What’s the best way to judge our players? The Champions League.

"If you look at Champions League minutes this year we are sixth on that list [for players minutes by nationality]. We’re actually behind Brazil and Portugal. It's interesting talking to other coaches of national teams that they feel the same, and they feel the same of picking your best players, so long as they can get to a reasonable physical level.

"That's where we are with it, really. You'd love to have that depth, but we are shorter than the other big nations on depth of selection. I'm happy with the quality we have to pick from, but in certain positions we are short of depth."

Southgate also said he was concerned about the number of foreign players who had been brought into the Premier League in the January transfer window.

"About 80% of the deals coming in through January were non-English,” Southgate said. “Of the English deals, a couple of those were second or third-choice goalkeepers, three were youth transfers — one was Romeo Beckham [to Brentford B].

“That impact of January has played out in the past couple of weeks. If we keep going in that direction it is clear that those numbers are going to drop again. I think that is the challenge that everyone is trying to find [an answer to]."

Since Todd Boehly's takeover of Chelsea last May, the club have signed 16 players, of which only three (Raheem Sterling, Carney Chukwuemeka and Noni Madueke) are English. The arrivals could also have the knock-on effect of blocking pathways for Academy players. Indeed Southgate questioned whether the likes of Mason Mount and Reece James would have made it through at Chelsea without the club's 2019 transfer embargo.

Chelsea signings since takeover by Boehly-led consortium:

  • Mykhailo Mudryk (Ukrainian)
  • Wesley Fofana (French)
  • Marc Cucurella (Spanish)
  • Raheem Sterling (English)
  • Benoit Badiashile (French)
  • Kalidou Koulibaly (French-Senegalese)
  • Noni Madueke (English)
  • Malo Gusto (French)
  • Carney Chukwuemeka (English)
  • Andrey Santos (Brazilian)
  • Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Gabonese)
  • Gabriel Slonina (American)
  • David Datro Fofana (Ivorian)
  • Denis Zakaria (Swiss)
  • Joao Felix (Portuguese)
  • Enzo Fernandez (Argentine)

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