Who owns England's future? Young Lions call-ups analysed by club
While the full England team have a new gaffer in Sam Allardyce, the long-term plan is to create a succession of well-coached players from the various Three Lions youth teams. But where do these youngsters call home?
FourFourTwo’s chums over at the excellent YouthHawk.co.uk have been examining all the call-ups for the six Young Lions squads: U16, U17, U18, U19, U20 and U21. And the results make for interesting reading.
The first thing to note is that there are a few dominant club sides. As you can see in our attractive diagram (technically a treemap, fact fans), Chelsea have provided the most Young Lions: 20 across the six squads, with 16 from Arsenal and 14 from Man City. Everton and Tottenham have 10 each and then there’s a significant drop-off to Fulham, Man United and Wolves with 5 each.
If the Old Trafford outfit offer scant representation, at least they provided more Young Lions than their old rivals down the East Lancs. Liverpool have just 3 call-ups – the same as Southampton, their top-eight rivals from whom they have sourced so many expensive signings of late.
But that’s not all: there’s more to these figures. There’s a vast difference between a promising U16 wunderkind and a hulking great U21 player ready to step into the first team, so it’s worth looking at the age distribution of those call-ups. So we did another chart, this time ranging from U21s in the dark hue to U16s in the lighter shade.
Here again, Chelsea seem particularly powerful, with their representatives evenly spread among the age groups. Of their four U21 players Lewis Baker, Nathaniel Chalobah, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Dominic Solanke, all bar Baker (loaned to Vitesse) are in the Blues’ first-team squad this year; whether they make it or not at the Bridge, they will be challenged next year by a new generation in U20 call-ups Fikayo Tomori, Tammy Abraham and Isaiah Brown, and so on right down to the three U16 call-ups who will be eyeing World Cup 2022. (For the record: Jordan Aina, Clinton Mola and Kit Elliott. Remember the names.)
If four U16 call-ups seems impressive, bear in mind that Arsenal have seven: Vontae Daley-Campbell, Bukayo Saka, Ben Cotrrell, Trae Coyle, Alfie Matthews, Xavier Amaechi and Tyreece John-Jules. But as these callow kids make up almost half of Arsenal’s 16 Young Lions call-ups, it seems unlikely that the Gunners’ Academy will be providing Arsene Wenger with much English youth in the next couple of years; indeed, both their U21 call-ups (Calum Chambers and Rob Holding) were bought in from elsewhere.
— aidan (@englandyouth) August 26, 2016
In Chambers’ case that was Southampton, but that St Mary’s conveyor belt doesn’t seem overloaded with English talent. Their three call-ups are all U21, and one of them (Nathan Redmond) wasn’t homegrown. If that seems underwhelming, the famous West Ham Academy has just one English call-up, and even he’s no surprise: the U20 Reece Oxford. Things are better at Manchester United, with a trio of U20 tyros who’ve already been in and around the first team (Cameron Borthwick-Jackson, Axel Tuanzebe and Dean Henderson).
Liverpool will have to wait a while for their three Young Lions – U19s Herbie Kane and Trent Alexander-Arnold plus U17 Rhian Brewster – but there’s much more action across Stanley Park. You already know about Everton's U21s Brendan Galloway and Mason Holgate; they’re role models for U20s Callum Connolly, Jonjoe Kenny, Kieran Dowell and Dominic Calvert-Lewin, not to mention U19s Tom Davies, Antony Evans and Nathan Holland. Maybe Ronald Koeman doesn’t have to be so hasty with the chequebook after all.
(Note: remember, these are call-ups, not caps: anyone given an invitation to join the Young Lions has been counted here too.)
With thanks to Sam at YouthHawk.co.uk