As the season draws to a close, many clubs' attention will start to turn to pre-season preparations.

Some will play friendlies thousands of miles away in money-spinning locations, others closer to home, but what can be assured is that all clubs will blood young and untested talent who are hungry for first-team football.

But once the new season starts, these players will find themselves sitting on the bench, lining out in meaningless reserve-team games, or playing for lower-league clubs on loan.

Even though the standard in these leagues is remarkably high, it will not give a young player the sharpness required to cut the mustard in one of the world's fastest and physically demanding leagues.

The solution may be found on the continent, as shown by the often polarising figure Joey Barton, who has injected a new lease of life into his stagnating career with a 12-month stay in France with Marseille.

Think how much good it would do for players like Connor Wickham or Josh McEachran to run out for a decent side in Spain, France or Holland playing against some of the best players in the world on a weekly basis. Their careers would come on leaps and bounds.

Look how much it has done for Chelsea 'keeper Thibaut Courtois; he has played over 50 times for the Atletico Madrid and has a Copa del Ray winners' medal to boot. I wonder which he would prefers: medals in sunny Spain or bench time in London? The answer is simple.

The experience would give young players an opportunity to learn another language, culture and footballing way. It could increase the number of players leaving these isles and carving out a career on the continent.

Paul Ince, Robbie Keane and even Michael Owen have struggled abroad during their careers but this would mark the start of a new era in football and improve the fortunes of the national teams in this part of the world.


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