Much has been made of England Under 21's dismal displays during the European Championships in Israel.
While Spain's constant conveyor belt of stars shows no sign of slowing down, closer to home the future is not so bright. Many factors have to be taken into account when assessing why English players fall short so often, but Manchester City's Scott Sinclair is a perfect example of what is wrong with our young talent.
Snapped up by Chelsea from Bristol Rovers back in 2005, Sinclair was already being touted as a future star. But as many players were emerging at the time, he fell victim to the Abramovich era. With limited playing time on offer, Sinclair was sent out on loan to no fewer than six clubs. Despite impressing, especially at Wigan, he could not muscle his way through a string of established players at Stamford Bridge.
Eventually in 2010, Sinclair realised his future laid elsewhere if he was to improve. He signed for Swansea City and became their talisman; scoring a hat-trick in the play-off final as they became the first Welsh team to earn promotion to the Premier League.
Sinclair was on the way to fulfilling his potential, he flourished during the next season too, earning a call up to the England Under 21 squad, brimming with confidence and enjoying the expansive style of the Swans football.
But despite an impressive 11th placed finish in their debut season Sinclair's head was turned by newly crowned champions Manchester City. Rejecting an improved offer from the Welsh outfit, Sinclair signed for City in August of 2012.
Rather than remain at a club where has was settled, loved and commanding regular game time, he opted to join a huge squad full of enormous talent. It did not require the quickest of cats to see Sinclair would struggle to force his way into the team. If every player at City was playing well, Sinclair would struggle to make the squad let alone the bench.
Sinclair had waited for so long to prove himself in the Premier League but as soon as he had done so a 'bigger' club came calling, he jumped ship. As expected, the transfer did prove to be a spectacular failure for the 24 year-old. A paltry 15 appearances, three starts and 0 goals was the sum of his season. The only thing that has improved for Sinclair this year is his bank balance. During his time at the Etihad his career has gone backwards.
One glance at Sinclair's Twitter page and he doesn't strike you as a focused professional. He even told The Mirror in October 2012: "I don't know how often I'll play, because competition for places is intense. I'm just looking forward to playing in any games.”
Hardly a ringing endorsement in support of his own talent. We often hear of fans complaining that they are tired of 'mercenary' footballers that are only in it for the money, but many turn a blind eye when such a blatant example of one hails from these shores.
Sinclair should have really pushed onto the fringes of the senior side this season, at the very least. But instead, Wilfried Zaha, performing week in week out in the Championship, as Sinclair once did, jumped past him in the pecking order. A bit of stability does wonders for a player, with confidence and game time you can get high profile games under your belt that provide you with the foundation to progress as a player. Sitting on the bench at a big club in vital developmental years is pointless.
The reality is that the trend looks to continue. The opportunity for Sinclair to join City only became apparent when another hugely hyped English player turned his back on stagnation and joined Sunderland. Adam Johnson, remember him? He might have a Premier League winners' medal but he has slipped out of the England set-up under Roy Hodgson and faces a fight to rebuild his reputation.
Zaha too, the man who has skipped past Sinclair, is at risk. Ahead of his move to Manchester United this summer David Moyes may not want to risk an unproven youngster during his first season in charge. Zaha may end up spending the next couple of seasons with his feet up on Old Trafford's bench. Learning from great players in training is one thing, but adjusting to the pressure and intensity of Premier League football is what we need our youngsters to be experience.
The talent is there, but the players need to have the determination to stay at smaller clubs. The England senior team is constantly full of players that feature for top four clubs with a scattering of Tottenham and Everton in recent years. The only real harm staying at a smaller club and excelling or becoming a team's talisman does is to your bank account.
If our players want to improve we need more Englishmen playing in the Premier League. But with blank cheque books and the pressure to succeed immediately the top clubs will continue will increasingly look abroad for developed foreign talent. Rather than helping the top clubs fulfil their quota of home grown talent and warm a bench, staying at smaller clubs would be much more beneficial.
Playing in the Champions League obviously aids development but so does playing full stop. The competition involving Europe's elite is the not the be all and end all to development.
But while clubs continue to pay extortionate wages to players that are yet to prove themselves fully little is likely to change. The continued failures of the English national side goes hand in hand with the further success of the monetary juggernaut that is now our national league.
The majority of our players want it all, as The Specials sang, it's a case of 'too much, too young'. Patience is a virtue that young English talent has lost sight of, with the carrot of huge contracts dangling in front of their eyes proving too hard to turn their nose up at.
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