England's 2014 World Cup campaign was one to forget. Over before it had really begun after consecutive defeats to Italy and Uruguay, the tournament highlighted emphatically the gulf in class between England and the world's elite football nations.
England can boast of the competitiveness and entertainment its domestic league provides, but the nature of the Premier League and the influx of foreign talent into the English game is having a truly damaging effect on the country's national team. The pathway to first team opportunities are often blocked by foreign talent, recruited from across the globe for fractions of the cost of nurturing local players.
Insufficient young talent
The nature of the Premier League, with teams demanding instant success for risk of financial implosion, has seen many clubs reluctant to take a chance on young English talent coming from within the academy system. Whilst the very best English talent, such as current prospects Ross Barkley and Raheem Sterling, will find their way into our clubs first teams, the numbers are not sufficient enough to generate a selection pool of international class talent.
Home-grown ruling system
From the beginning of the 2010/2011 season, the Premier League introduced the 'Home-Grown' ruling, a rule which means clubs cannot name more than 17 non-home grown players aged over 21 in their 25 man squad. Whilst the ruling was intended to create more opportunities for domestic talent, the ruling unintentionally inflated transfer fees for English players, with clubs having to pay a premium to secure the domestic talent required for the regulations.
The recent transfer Adam Lallana to Liverpool for £25million is evidence of this, especially when you consider that World Cup winning German midfielder Toni Kroos has signed for Real Madrid for fractionally less than that fee. Football is after all big business, it makes much more financial sense for a club to invest in an equally talented player from a foreign land as opposed to paying the premium demanded for English talent.
One way I believe young English talent can gain more opportunities is to bring in minimum age restriction for the signing of foreign players. Clubs currently scout the world and bring in young players from across the globe into their academies.
Putting a restriction on the age of signing foreign talent, for example minimum age 21, means that clubs can invest heavily in the development of young English talent. By the time a player turns 21, he should be ready to integrate into first team football.
Making the academies of English clubs only for domestic talent until this age will see more time invested into developing young, English players and should see the number of English players in the Premier League greatly improve. A wider pool of players to choose from can only benefit the England national team, and the agony of disappointing international tournaments should be no more.