Football

EPL academies have overtaken German ones: Zorc

Dortmund boss Zorc says they are looking overseas as it is getting tougher to find top talents in Germany

English Premier League academies have left their German rivals far behind, according to Borussia Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc, with Bundesliga clubs now scouting British talent in the hope of unearthing future stars.

Bundesliga leaders Dortmund meet Tottenham Hotspur on Thursday morning (Singapore time) at Wembley in a Champions League last-16 tie with Jadon Sancho, 18, a regular in the German side after joining from Manchester City in 2017.

Dortmund's domestic rivals are attempting to develop a Sancho of their own.

Welsh winger Rabbi Matondo, 18, joined Schalke 04 last month and England youth internationals Reiss Nelson, 19, and Emile Smith Rowe, 18, have both left Arsenal for loan spells at Hoffenheim and RB Leipzig respectively.

Even Bayern Munich are following the trend by attempting to lure England Under-19 forward Callum Hudson-Odoi from Chelsea.

Zorc said it is becoming harder to discover talent in Germany, leaving Bundesliga clubs looking overseas and scouring the academies of EPL clubs.

"We would favour, of course, identifying and signing German talent or developing them in our academy," Zorc said.

"But when it gets to absolutely top talents, it's more and more difficult to find them in Germany."

For a while, Germany's best youngsters often headed to England, attracted by big salaries in the EPL.

Leroy Sane, still only 23, was the last German starlet to make the grade when he left Schalke for Man City in August 2016.

TREND REVERSAL

Since then, the trend has reversed with British youngsters, no longer content to sit on the bench of EPL clubs, trying their luck in the Bundesliga.

"Go back say five to 10 years, there was a time that English clubs were keen to sign German players," said Zorc.

"But, now, the development of youth players in the English academies is quite good. The teams don't only spend on transfers or salaries, but also on infrastructure. When you see these youth academies - for example City - you can't compare it with the German standard, it's much higher.

"And also it's something like a business model, because even if they don't succeed in their own teams, they sell them for higher prices. I just read that City have sold young players for more than 150 million euros (S$231m) in the last three to five years.

"You can see it also in results. You know the English teams are reaching U-17, U-19 (finals) compared to the German ones. It seems to me that they overtook us."

Sancho joined Dortmund as he was offered more chances for first-team football and the teen has seized the opportunity with eight goals and 13 assists in 28 games this season.

Besides Sancho, fullback Dan-Axel Zagadou, 19, and winger Jacob Bruun Larsen, 20, are also starting regularly.

"The most important thing is not to make promises you can't keep," said Zorc.

"We don't say 'you are going to play, definitely', we say 'there will be opportunities'.

"You can see how many young players play each week - not just in cup games, but also in big matches, including the Champions League." - AFP

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