The future of Burnley striker Danny Ings is still not set in stone and Real Sociedad manager David Moyes has spoken again this week of his desire to lure the Englishman to La Liga – and such a move would be great both for Ings himself and for England.
The 22-year-old has been in flying form this season and is by far Burnley’s key asset in their struggle to earn themselves a second stint in the big-time. And his how nine goals and four assists for the Clarets have placed him firmly in the mix for England’s Euro 2016 qualifier against Lithuania in March.
With his contract at Turf Moor expiring in the summer, Ings is free to speak to overseas clubs and agree a free transfer - and he should seriously consider cashing in on Moyes’ admiration and make the move to Spain if he wants to fulfil his potential and help the fortunes of his country's national team.
Premier League overload
In an era when the Premier League is overloaded with overseas talent we have come to the point, as Roy Hodgson pointed out last summer, where we can no longer expect the best English players to be regular starters for their clubs.
A decade of spending by the big names in the division have done nothing but increase the divide between them and the rest of the league. Clubs like Manchester United, Chelsea, Manchester City, Liverpool and Spurs have all hoarded English talent in recent years and if Danny Ings isn’t careful he could become the next in a long line of wasted English talent warming the bench.
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Keeping good Kompany
What young developing players need is game time and lots of it if they are to fulfil their potential.
Vincent Kompany hailed his introduction to Champions League football with Anderlecht at the age of 17 as a crucial factor in his development into one of the best centre-backs in the Premier League – a feat he never would have achieved had he been in England at the time.
“What has made my development is not the fact that I started in the Premier League at 17 or 18 because it is not realistic. It is the fact that I started at Anderlecht at 17 and played Champions League at 17 and moved on when I was 20," the Belgium international was quoted as saying by ESPN.
"That made a difference for players like me, Eden Hazard, Jan Vertonghen, Moussa Dembele, all the players in my national team. We started at smaller clubs. If you think about England what needs to change is the mind-set.
"English players should accept at a younger age to take experience abroad or in leagues where it is easier to play, where it is less demanding either physically or when it comes to results. It is as simple as that."
Three’s a crowd
And of course, as is common knowledge amongst England fans these days, the other development risk that the Premier League poses is the drastic influx of overseas players.
A recent State of the Game study revealed that English players took just 36.08% of Premier League playing time in the Premier League so far this season. The Premier League announced on its 20th anniversary that 62% of players in the division were from overseas. On the inaugural weekend of the division in August 1992, just 13 non-British players made an appearance – the growth really has been astronomical.
But that excuse only gets you so far. For me, it’s not really about how many foreign players come to the Premier League; it’s about how the English players affected by that seek to solve the problem. The rest of Europe’s top leagues are by no means any less cosmopolitan in ethnicity. In 2013 Portugal, Italy, Germany and Spain’s top divisions had respectiveshares of 53.2%, 52.2%, 46.0% and 35% of overseas talent.
But the important thing is that the ratio of players from those countries plying their trade abroad is significantly higher.
Diversity at international level
Countries like Spain, Germany and the Netherlands, who have all enjoyed significantly more success on the international scene than England this millennium, seem to have the model just right.
Germany’s World Cup winning side of last summer had seven non-domestic based players in their ranks that all play at the top level in other countries. Virtually nobody in their 23-man squad could have been considered a bit-part player at club level which makes them all more valuable assets on the international stage.
Spain’s Euro 2012 winning side had players based overseas and the Netherlands squad that made it all the way to the semi-finals of last summer’s World Cup had no fewer than 13 players plying their trade outside of the their native country. When young players in those countries find playing time lacking they are significantly more prepared to travel abroad to find such opportunities.
The last time England had more than two foreign-based players in their World Cup squad was when they took five to Italia 90 – when the Three Lions achieved their best finish since 1966. And that’s not been bested in 25 years. Admittedly, four of those players played for Rangers but the point it illustrates is that English players have become increasingly attached to their own brand of domestic football.
Since the turn of the century, the English football team has been accused of having no attacking guile about it, no action plans for shackling the world’s best players and basically being completely unadventurous – and when you squad is made of players with experiences from just one division that always going to happen.
Yes English players compete against a wealth of foreign talent under the direction of foreign managers week-in, week-out. But the mentality of the style British football has mostly stayed the same. Someone prepared to go and experience football in a different country will learn to play under new systems and also how to play against
them – and being able to play regularly and even have a better shot at Champions League football would accelerate that process.
But as is so often the problem in modern football, money – unfortunately – talks. Often the potential stars of the future are swayed by significantly more lucrative offers from Premier League clubs than what the likes of Real Sociedad, Hamburg or Bordeaux can muster up.
And with Sky announcing a new £5.2 billion TV deal that problem is only going to increase – people are already seriously talking about Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo making their way to England in the near future because of it!
So for the foreseeable future we may have to continue facing the toss-up between having the best national team in the world or the best domestic league in the world – because the two very much appear to be mutually exclusive.
What Danny Ings does next could prove very important for the future of English football, especially in the context of the recent TV developments.
His Burnley exit is almost inevitable but a move to Liverpool, Spurs or Manchester City will likely result in him warming the bench and his development, like Jack Rodwell and Scott Sinclair before him, will be stunted.
It all depends on what he’s after. If he wants a better financial deal and the home comforts of England then he’ll move to one of those clubs. But he has the opportunity at such a stage in his career to set a precedent for the future because if he wants to become the best he can be, his best shot is to take David Moyes up on his offer.
Should Danny Ings move to Spain or stay in England? Have your say in the comments below.
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