With football being such a short and unpredictable career, jumping at the chance to play for a top club after a good season seems like an offer that is impossible to refuse for any young player. However, despite managers increasingly looking to jump on the band wagon of the hottest in-form talent, does the transfer benefit the player or would they be better off staying at a team earning less but playing more regular football?
Take for example the recent move of Fabian Delph from Aston Villa to Manchester City. It was not all that long ago that Delph played his first game for England and even now has only won six caps in an England side weaker than those of past years. Yet despite this, he has got the big ticket move to Manchester City who have a notorious record of paying promising young players over-inflated salaries to sit on the bench whilst the more established stars get the 1st team playing time.
So how will Delph’s career at City differ massively from that of Scott Sinclair, who’s promise playing for Swansea was eroded away whilst sitting on the bench at the Etihad? Clearly Delph’s change of heart after initially stating he was to stay at Villa shows the tough decision he faced; remaining captain of a Premier League club where he knows he will get the game time required to continue to improve and where the fans would love him for his loyalty or move to a bigger club, earning far more than he ever did and where, if all went to plan, he could potentially become a star, playing at the highest level in the biggest games. It’s a gamble and one that many players are becoming more willing to take with the pressure of agents and a lessened sense of loyalty in the modern game.
With this in mind, out of all the young players at top clubs this year how many are likely to perform?
Based on pre-season performances there appears plenty of reason for optimism; Arsenal’s perennial faith in youth appears to be working with 19 year old Chuba Akpom impressing in the Emirates Cup; Manchester United’s Jesse Lingard’s goal against Barcelona rounded off an impressive pre-season for him; whilst at City, Cameron Humphreys, a 16-year-old centre-back, held his own against the Galåcticos of Real Madrid.
Despite these promising signs however, the reality is that most of these and other young players’ careers won’t fulfill their initial promise by remaining at top clubs where irregular game time will hamper their ability to improve. Despite the risk however, one thing is for sure; should the players deliver in the next season then they are on the highest possible platform to do so and will likely never look back.