Lookman & Sancho paving a new path for England's youth abroad

Ademola Lookman Jadon Sancho Split
Most young players go on loan to the Championship to gain first team experience, but some of England's youngsters are offering an alternative

In his autobiography Sam Allardyce credits his brief stint in America with the Tampa Bay Rowdies for changing how he saw the game, helping him develop into the renowned football manager he is today.

Therefore, it was unusual to hear his incredulity as England Under-21 international Ademola Lookman decided to reject a loan move to Championship club Derby County in favour of Bundesliga side RB Leipzig.

“It's one of the most unusual situations I've been in,” Allardyce said. “We got some deals for him but he was adamant he chose Germany. His stubbornness means he got his own way in the end."

Allardyce played just 11 times in the North American Soccer League in the 1983 season before returning to England, but getting out of his natural surroundings shaped the rest of his playing career and birthed his managerial career.

When an English player decides to move abroad in 2018, it is seen as an anomaly. Established figures of the game such as Allardyce are bewildered: why would a young English player leave England?

But, one just has to look at Marcus Rashford's statements in the past week to see how even the best young players at big clubs know that chances will be limited, with less than a dozen players under 21 featuring in two-thirds of their club's Premier League fixtures.

"It is such a difficult thing to do and the stats obviously show it," Rashford told United Review. "The fact there are only 10 or so playing shows how difficult it is to do it. 

"I’d also say it’s harder at the top clubs, who can breed those types of players but they have fewer opportunities. You have to just try to get in the team and then stay in the side, like everyone else."

Leipzig were keen to sign 20-year-old Lookman, who had scored three goals for England as they lifted the 2017 U-20 World Cup, and in Germany he would have access to the best training facilities and staff - much like Allardyce had in the U.S. in the 1980s.

"I wanted a new challenge, a new league," Lookman told Sportbuzzer. "The Bundesliga has a great reputation in England. Top stadiums with good, physically strong and disciplined players and games played at a high level.

"The training ground could not be better. The training center leaves nothing to be desired - it is all highly professional. The food in the academy tastes like a top restaurant!"

GFX Jadon Sancho Peter Stoger

Leipzig have an abundance of forwards, but Lookman has to look no further than one place below them in the Bundesliga table to find another English talent making waves abroad.

Borussia Dortmund's Jadon Sancho is currently sidelined through injury, but has become a key part of Peter Stoger's squad despite his tender age of 17.

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Sancho left Manchester City for Germany last summer for £8 million following his triumph with England at the U-17 World Cup, and surprisingly was not the only underage international to leave a Premier League giant for the Bundesliga.

Kaylen Hinds transferred to Wolfsburg from Arsenal, and is now on loan at Greuther Furth to gain more first-team experience having turned 20 in January. England U-20 team-mate Reece Oxford is back at Borussia Monchengladbach on loan from West Ham, with Gladbach keen to sign the defender on a permanent deal.

With Sancho taking the number seven jersey vacated by Ousmane Dembele while putting in performances befitting a much more experienced player and Lookman marking his Bundesliga debut with the first goal by an Englishman in the German top-flight for 12 years, England's youths now have another tried and tested pathway to success - offering an excellent alternative to lower division loans, as long as the players are bold and brave enough to make the leap.