By 90Min
September 01, 2018

'A dream move to the Premier League' is a stereotype which fans across the United Kingdom are more than happy to take as verbatim, but a group of rebellious young players already at the division's biggest clubs are looking to buck that trend and leave the top flight and home comforts of England.

Former Manchester City academy star Jadon Sancho appeared to set the wheels in motion for England's disenfranchised youngsters to up sticks and move to Germany when he completed a high-profile switch to Borussia Dortmund.

Maja Hitij/GettyImages

However, the then 17-year-old, who recently assisted Marco Reus' 100th Bundesliga goal, is actually just the latest in a surprisingly long line of players who ditched life in the Premier League in the search of pathways to regular first team football.

And when looking at the Premier League's unhealthy recruitment policies since the turn of the century, it is no surprise that players like Sancho are now looking for opportunities on the content, with many more set to follow in the not too distant future.

English players were only involved in 34% of all minutes played in the top flight last season, according to a recent study - less than half of what English players managed during the Premier League's inception in 1992.

Things only get worse for youngsters who are already at the top clubs. A CIES Football Observatory study showed that Chelsea awarded their homegrown players just 16% of game time during 2016/17, while Manchester City were just ahead with 17%.

"I looked at who they have right now and the path," Sancho said over his decision to leave Etihad Stadium. "A lot of young players come to Dortmund and become top, top players. I thought to myself, 'Wow, that could be me'. I want to be part of that history.

"They're proving, by the games I've played, that age doesn't matter - they'll play you if you're good enough."

The footballing pyramid in Germany is quite simple. Impress at your current level, and you'll be given a chance to show what you can do at a higher age range. Nothing showcases this more than when FC Köln, whilst in the midst of a relegation dogfight, handed a debut to a then 16-year-old Yann Aurel Bisseck last season - setting a Bundesliga record.

Interestingly, it's not just youngsters at the highest level in the Premier League who have opted to move to Germany for a better chance at first team opportunities. 

Back in 2014, Austria-born centre back Kevin Danso swaped MK Dons' Under-18 squad for the youth ranks at Augsburg. The 19-year-old has since gone on to make 24 appearances for the Fuggerstädter, and is now regarded as one of the best defensive talents in the league.

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"I think that's the problem with players my age today, especially in England. We get too comfortable, too quickly," Danso recently said, quoted by the Bundesliga's official website. "I don't think many of us realise how big an opportunity this is.

"Once you've proven you can do it in the youth Bundesliga, the club will understand and they will give you the time you need at first-team level."

It is this clear path into the first team which has seen players from across the world flock to the Bundesliga to make a name for themselves across the years. 

Although youngsters in England have largely been behind the curve, the next batch of Three Lions will start to view a career abroad as a real possibility thanks to the brave steps that Sancho, Ademola Lookman and now Reiss Nelson among others have taken.

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