False promise? Britain’s got talent in the Bundesliga


Berlin (AFP) – Rising British starlets Jonjoe Kenny, Ethan Ampadu and Ademola Lookman will all be hoping to get a first taste of Bundesliga action when the German league kicks off this weekend.

Starved of game time in the Premier League, Schalke loanee Kenny, 22, and RB Leipzig newcomers Lookman, 21, and Ampadu, 28, are hoping to emulate the success of English Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho, 19, in the Bundesliga. 

Yet, as Leipzig coach Julian Nagelsmann told AFP-subsidiary SID this week, life in German football can be tougher than expected for young British players.

“Ethan has a great career ahead of him but he still has a bit to learn. Mola (Lookman) is unbelievable in one-on-ones…but he has a fair bit to learn defensively,” warned Nagelsmann. 

Lookman, his former Everton team-mate Kenny and Chelsea loanee Ampadu are the latest in a wave of British talent which has relocated to Germany in recent years. 

Since 2016, 11 British youngsters have moved to the Bundesliga, either on loan or permanent deals, and the success of Sancho appears to have created a domino effect. 

Everton defender Kenny admits that he was persuaded to join Schalke by England Under-21 team mate Reiss Nelson, who spent last season on loan at Hoffenheim from Arsenal. 

“I spoke to Reiss a lot. He had nothing but praise for the quality here,” said Kenny. 

“He told me how much he learned, and he really helped me make my decision to come here.”

Yet as Nelson’s experience shows, coming to a Bundesliga club is no guarantee of game time. 

Despite impressing in his first few games, the Arsenal loanee made five starts in 23 appearances for Hoffenheim last season, averaging just 27 minutes a game. 

Leipzig boss Nagelsmann, who coached Nelson at Hoffenheim last season, knows that young British players can find it hard to integrate. 

“The main problem is that the players arrive very late (in the transfer window), because English clubs tend to wait and see what happens with their young talents,” Nagelsmann said.

“Reiss arrived at the beginning of August. He didn’t speak the language and he wasn’t familiar with what we were working on.”

– ‘Sancho had time’ –

Nelson is not the only one to have struggled.

Language problems and difficulties adapting to a different set of tactical demands, mean many English players have come back from Germany disappointed. 

Scottish winger Oliver Burke, who had a spell at Leipzig and is now at West Bromwich Albion, and English striker Kaylen Hinds, who was at Wolfsburg and is without a club, failed to establish themselves. 

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