Football League or Premier League U18’s??

Are young players like Patrick Roberts better playing first team football in the Football League or Premier League U18’s.

Premier League teams are always looking for the next wonderkid or future star. Sending scouts all over the world and to every corner of the football league system hoping to find the next Ronaldo or Messi.

Arsenal for example see scouting as one of the most important aspects of their club and have a large network of scouts that includes former left back Danny Karbassiyoon who covers USA and Mexico. Read More

Liverpool recently signed Emeka Obi for their under-16’s team from Bury. Obi had been training with Bury first team for two months before making his professional debut aged 15 years and 86 days, making him Bury’s youngest ever player.

Liverpool are not the only team to cherry pick from Football League.

Manchester United started a complete overhaul of the youth system, making four new appointments including former midfielder Nicky Butt to oversee their academy. 

Since the revamp Man Utd have signed a number of players form lower league sides, including Max Johnstone (Fleetwood) and Joshua Bohui (Brentford).

Manchester City spent £150 million on a new academy in 2014. The end result of the new facilities is to produce at least 5 first team players over the next six years.

A number of youth players joined the club, Patrick Roberts (Fulham), Jadon Sancho (Watford) and Ian Carlo Poveda (Brentford) being the most high profile.

City also spent a world record £175,000 on 13 year old centre back Finley Burns from Southend United. The fee was almost £150,000 more than they are obliged to pay under the terms of the Elite Player Performance Plan.

What does this mean for Football League Clubs?

Bury are a club who seem to be using the system to their advantage.

The League One club have lost a number of players to Championship and Premier League clubs in recent years. Bury have a good training facilities that attract good players from the local area, they give players debuts early so they can maximize on transfer fees.

Brentford went the opposite direction in 2016 by withdrawing from the Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP) and closed their academy from U8 to U21 level.

A Brentford statement read:  “The development of young players must make sense from a business perspective. The review has highlighted that, in a football environment where the biggest Premier League clubs seek to sign the best young players before they can graduate through an Academy system, the challenge of developing value through that system is extremely difficult.”

It is too early to say if Emeka Obi has made the right move or not and some players like England number one Joe Hart did make the right decision moving to a big team as a teenager when he left Shrewsbury for Manchester City. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for everyone.

Which players have the right decision when moving from Football League or Premier League U18’s?

John Ruddy – Cambridge to Everton
Fee – £250,000 Age – 19
Played 39 games for hometown club Cambridge as an 18-year-old in League Two. A move to Everton saw him make one appearance in 5 years, although there were loans to football league clubs. A move to Championship Norwich revived his career and saw him win a cap for England.

Luke Steele – Peterborough to Man Utd
Fee – £500,000 Age – 17
After a 3 week trial with Man Utd, Steele returned to Peterborough to play 2 games as a 17-year-old. United like what they saw and paid an initial £500,000 for his services. Steele failed to make a first team appearance and moved to West Brom before having a good career at Barnsley.

Joe Hart – Shrewsbury to Man City
Fee – £600,000 Age – 19
A non-playing substitute for Shrewsbury as a 15 year old schoolboy before becoming number one for the League Two side. Moved to Man City and became number one for club and country after a season long loan at Birmingham.

Carl Jenkinson – Charlton to Arsenal
Fee – £1,000,000 Age – 19
Moved to Arsenal after just 8 games League One Charlton. Jenkinson went straight into the Arsenal side as right back but failed to establish himself as a regular and spent the 2014/15 season on loan to West Ham. Has 1 cap for England.

Luke Freeman – Gillingham to Arsenal
Fee – £200,000 Age – 16
Played his first match for Gillingham as a 15 year old in the FA Cup. Moved to Arsenal as a 16 year old but after 5 years and no appearances he moved to Stevenage following a successful loan spell. Now with Bristol City Freeman continues to have a good career in the Football League.

Jordon Ibe – Wycombe to Liverpool
Fee – £420,000 Age – 16
Played 11 games as a 16 year old for League Two Wycombe before moving to Liverpool. It took 2.5 years for him to establish himself in the Liverpool first team where he looked set to replace Stirling on the wing. This did not happen and he was sold to Bournemouth.

Ryan Crowther – Stockport to Liverpool
Fee – ? Age – 17
Made his first team debut for Stockport in 2006 aged 17 as a substitute and was made captain, making him the youngest captain in the club’s history. Managed one more appearance before moving to Liverpool but he failed to make an impact and dropped down the leagues, now a semi-pro aged 26.

Jack Hobbs – Lincoln City to Liverpool
Fee – £750,000 Age – 17
After just one game for Lincoln aged 16, Hobbs moved to Liverpool and was a regular for their reserves. Made two Premier League appearances in 2007 before moving to the Championship where he has played for Leicester, Hull and Forest.

David Martin – MK Dons to Liverpool
Fee – Free Age – 20
Son of former West Ham United player Alvin Martin was names on Liverpool’s bench for a number of first team games following his move form MK Dons. Moved back to MK Dons where he as been No. 1 for the last 5 years.

Scott Sinclair – Bristol Rovers to Chelsea
Fee – £200,000 Age – 16
second-youngest Bristol Rovers first-team debutant – at the age of 15 years 277 days. After 5 Premier League games and a number of loans Sinclair left Chelsea for Swansea before moving to Man City for £8 million. Now rebuilding his career at Celtic after only making 3 starts for his former club.

Patrick Bamford – Nottm Forest to Chelsea
Fee – £1.5m Age – 19
Moved to Chelsea after 2 games in the Championship. Successful loan spells with MK Dons, Derby and Middlesbrough, and he won the Championship Player of the Year during his time at the latter club. Left Chelsea without playing a first team game.

John Bostock – Crystal Palace to Tottenham
Fee – £700,000 Age – 17
Bostock made his league debut at the age of 15 years and 287 days, making him Palace’s youngest ever player. Moved to Tottenham in 2008 but after five years and no first team games he was released on a free transfer. Began rebuilding his career in Belgium before moving to France.

Ben Tozer – Swindon to Newcastle
Fee – £200,000 Age – 18
Moved to Newcastle after just 2 League One games for Swindon. Made 1 appearance for Newcastle in the Championship before moving back to League Two with Northampton.

Are there anymore players who have moved from the Football League or Premier League U18’s????

About the author: Football Wonderkids Verified icon 1

Football has been my ultimate passion since day one. Football really started becoming a huge part of my life when I was 14, but with the Internet not being as prominent at the time, I had a hard time finding pertinent information. And this is exactly how Football-Wonderkids came about. As the website’s Founder, I’m on a mission to curate information on current youth players across the globe and make it readily available all in one place.

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