Spotlight on Youth

56b92c564ee3b_martialEleven and a half years ago a former Liverpool and Scotland defender said something on the first match of the day of the new season that even to this very moment is seen as one of the worst predictions in the history of our beautiful game. Some of you will remember it and for those who don’t I’d suggest getting on the YouTube and search Alan Hansen you can’t win anything with kids, after watching the clip you’ll then need to know the rest basically man United lost to Aston villa on the opening day of the season with a certain class of 92 filling most of the squad and we all know what happened next unless you live under a rock of course but United then went on the dominate the rest of the 90s,00s. From my opening gambit you’ve probably worked out that my article is focusing on young players some you’ll know some you won’t the latter suits me better because I’m a bit odd I love to be that person that picks out a youngster and says keep an eye on him then watch him explode and fulfil his potential two of my recent times picks are no other than Eric dyer I picked him out a good few years ago well before spurs and look at him now , my proudest spot is a certain Mr Anthony martial I picked him out when he was 16 years old playing for Lyon he didn’t get much of a shout in the main squad but did well for the youth he then went to Monaco and really caught my attention my view was he is the new Thierry Henry with his goal scoring ability and presence and spurs were linked with a £15 million bid that never materialised and next thing you know boom £35 million to United. So that’s a bit about me I seriously love football and I love how serious I think about it but I will also be having fun with this article bit more about me then I’ll introduce my very first pick I am absolutely through and through thick and thin a massive Leeds United fan I also present a sports radio show on Saturday afternoons on the cat FM 107.9, and the idea and premise for this weekly article is to focus on five young players a week one being from anywhere in the world the other four playing on our very shores.

Player one – from anywhere.

The young lad I’ve selected this week is a French winger/striker who is currently plying his trade for Brest on loan from Nice, he made his debut five years ago for nice II and went on to score 9 goals in 13 games he then got called up to the main nice squad scoring six goals, a move to Saint Etienne followed in 2015 where he has only managed 15 games and one goal but his current loan spell is by far his most prominent scoring 10 goals in 19 games. He has represented his country from under 16 to under 21 and there is no doubt in my mind that he will go on to represent the main squad his record for France stands as under 16s, 6 goals 13 games under 17s, 4 goals 8 games under 19s,5 goals 12 games and under 21s,1 goal 2 games.

He is a very exciting player to watch he is very fast and skilfully playing out on the wing makes him quite tricky and at the end of the blistering pace is someone who knows where the back of the net is he’s is cool calm and clinical he reminds me of a 1998 Michael Owen only with some European flair. I have no doubt that he will go back to Saint Etienne and bag goals and one day the premier league or Spanish league will feel his presence question is will it be £15 million Martial or £35 million Martial if I was a premier league manager now I’d be on to my chairman telling him to get this lad in before his stock reaches that inevitable height for instance I’ve tweeted both owners of Leeds United to get him in.

My youth player plan

One of the biggest issues we have in our game is young players being bought and sold and promised the earth to then fall by the wayside. The best examples of this are Nick Powells transfer to man United and Dale Jennings to Bayern Munich. Some of you will probably know who Nick Powell is because every premier league club were after his signature but you can be forgiven for not knowing who Dale Jennings is because the way he was treated was deplorable. I’ll start with Nick Powell he broke through the famed Crewe Alexander youth system like so many others and made his debut at age 16 and was developing well but was far from the finished article then he scored that wonder goal in the play off final and there was no way Crewe were keeping him, many clubs were courting him but Man United won his signature for around 7 million. He made the switch and could not of had a better start scoring a cracking goal on his debut against Wigan, and that is as far as his man United career went he made a few other appearances but injuries and personal problems kept him out on loan first at Wigan which went well scoring 7 goals in 32 games then he went to Leicester city on loan and was sent back to United early with Nigel Pearson claiming he had a poor attitude then he was sent to Hull playing 3 times before going back to United and to be released in the summer of 2016 and now is playing for Wigan, he has wasted crucial development years bouncing around different clubs and I feel he has sacrificed his talent and ability don’t forget sir Alex Ferguson made the claim before he signed him that he was nailed on to be an England international and maybe pick up where Paul Scholes left off that is incredible praise from someone who love him or hate him knows what he’s talking about. Powell is now 22 and playing regularly so hopefully can pick up where he left off at Crewe although it does bother me that if he had made better choices he may well off been on the plane to France last summer rather than looking for a new club. The Dale Jennings story makes it very obvious to me that something needs to be put in place to stop young players moving to bigger clubs to early, Dale Jennings started his life in football in the Liverpool academy before being released and signing on to the Tranmere rovers academy he then got brought into the senior squad at age 18 and made a great impact scoring his first goal in his second game which was a beauty to behold and would become a trademark goal as his dribbling ability was fantastic and taking on players like he was a seasoned pro, he went on to make 29 appearances scoring 6 goals which of course brought with it a lot of attention from premier league clubs and clubs from around Europe, he was only in the senior squad for a year when he made the decision to move to Bayern Munich which honestly speaking I can understand not wanting to turn that offer down the chance to train along side world class players such as Robben and Ribery but that dream soon ended when he arrived and was placed in the Bayern 2 team which is at a lower level than the league he was playing in with Tranmere. He spent 2 years at Bayern before getting released and returning to England where he would sign for Barnsley, on his debut he got sent off he then went on to make 47 appearances scoring 4 goals and then went out on loan to MK dons before signing for them on a permanent contract after being released by Barnsley, but only made one appearance before again getting released for being overweight. Now 24 he is a free agent trying to find his way back into football. He has wasted 6 years of his career on false promises and maybe financial gain. The years between 16-25 for a footballer are the most crucial because they define what kind of player you’re going to be, if the right choice had been made all them years ago I truly believe everyone would know his name, he like Powell should of stayed put for at least a few ones seasons then make the move and with the right choices and guidance at the right time they could have gone on to be regulars in the premier league.

The next question is what should be done to prevent this massive waste of talent, my plan is fairly simple I would put an embargo on top flight teams snapping up players under the age of 21, I do not have a problem with top flight teams taking young players if they are going to get played and developed, perfect example is Dele Ali spurs signed him from MK dons but then he went back to them for the rest of the season to help them gain promotion. I said it at the time that he was good enough to play in the spurs squad already but understood why he wanted to go back and why they sent him back, my issue is talent getting wasted so my idea is when a top flight team sign a player under the age of 21 unless he is sent back to his original club this being only a one time short term loan he needs to play a certain percent of games and if by the end of the season he has not hit the required number of games then the club either has a full transfer embargo for the next window preventing them from making any signings or they get slapped with a big fine, this will stop top flight teams poaching young talent and loaning them out year on year predominantly to fill home grown player quotas.

Next week I’ll be putting my ideas forward for how I would further help young talent progress and why I feel the loan market is grossly misused by top flight teams.

Thank you for taking the time to read this I’ve been Daniel M Lowe.

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