English teams have overtaken German clubs when it comes to producing young players, Borussia Dortmund’s sporting director Michael Zorc says.
As ex-Manchester City youth Jadon Sancho continues to shine with Bundesliga leaders Dortmund and Arsenal's Reiss Nelson enjoying a bright loan spell at Hoffenheim, the German top-flight has become an attractive league for young English players deprived of a chance to prove themselves in the Premier League.
Emile Smith Rowe became the latest to join a German side when he moved to RB Leipzig on loan from Arsenal in January, while Bayern Munich are targeting Callum Hudson-Odoi, who has been frustrated by a lack of playing time at Chelsea.
Zorc believes the influx of English players heading to Germany marks a turning of the tables, as just a few years ago the stream of transfers was going in the opposite direction.
“Let’s go back say five or 10 years... there was a time that English clubs signed German players,” he is quoted as saying in The Guardian. "There was a lot of discussion here: ‘It’s all about money you know, it’s too early for them to go from Germany to England.’ But, in the meantime we have the feeling that, yes, the education and development of youth players in the English academies is quite good, to be honest.
"The teams don’t only spend much money on transfers or salaries but also on infrastructure. When you see these youth academies – for example Man City – you can’t compare it with the German standard. It’s much higher, much higher."
The 56-year-old believes teams in England have found a lucrative business in selling young players even before they have established themselves in the first team.
"It seems to me that it’s something like a business model for them because even if they don’t succeed in their own teams they sell them for higher prices," he added. "I just read a figure of Man City – I think they’ve sold young players for more than €150 million within the last three or five years. You can recognise it also in results. You know the English teams are reaching under-17, under-19 [finals] compared to the German ones. It seems to me that they overtook us."
The director is concerned that German football is slipping beyond many other nations, seeing his own club rely on foreign talents like Sancho, Ousmane Dembele and Christian Pulisic.
"At the moment we do not have this absolute top quality in the German youth," he told Kicker.
"Unfortunately I have the feeling that German football is being overtaken left and right. As far as 17 to 21-year-olds are concerned, we are simply not doing well in international comparisons, as was the case a few years ago."