Neil Humphreys: Don't waste England's world champs
Guardiola and his fellow EPL managers must make room for roaring Young Lions
England's youth teams are now world champions, twice over.
The Under-17s joined the Under-20s in winning the World Cup and should savour their moment in the global spotlight.
Their odds of staying there are slim to nil.
English football's track record of incubating promising talents and turning them into Premier League superstars is somewhere between woeful and shameful.
Financial considerations have long trumped any moral or ethical notions about watering the game's grassroots.
The Young Lions deserve every plaudit after defeating Spain 5-2 in a wonderful performance of positive, attacking football on Saturday night, with not a Mourinho-esque long ball in sight.
I am so happy because I am here for 20 years and we didn’t do so well with the youngsters... It shows that since they have restructured the academy work and dedicated to that, you have the results.Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger on England’s Under-17 and Under-20 world champions
But recent history suggests the names of their Spanish opponents may linger longer in our consciousness. La Liga offers more pathways to success, whereas the EPL is littered with the broken dreams of forgotten Young Lions.
Something radical must happen if the current crop - along with their equally successful under-20 compatriots - are to fully capitalise on their early promise.
Take Phil Foden as an interesting case study.
By any yardstick, the Manchester City youngster has every tool in the box to become an immaculate modern midfielder.
Blessed with a lovely left foot, the 17-year-old scored two in the final and picked up Player of the Tournament honours.
The lads from La Liga were no artistic or athletic match for Foden. When was the last time a gaggle of confused Spaniards failed to catch an English midfielder?
It is so important for Manchester City, for him, for everybody... When that guy grows and plays in a World Cup in the future, he has lived that situation before and knows what he has to do.Man City boss Pep Guardiola on his Under-17 World Cup Golden Ball winner Phil Foden
That's why Pep Guardiola loves Foden.
He's a local footballer making good at Manchester City. He became the third-youngest player in the club's history to be picked in a match-day squad for the Champions League game against Celtic last season.
Even City chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak has name-checked Foden, insisting the academy prospect would make the first team this season.
But unless Guardiola goes against the traditions of his current league and club, Foden shouldn't get carried away about his selection prospects.
Apart from the obvious fact that City's sparkling squad of international superstars are currently "undroppable", Guardiola has been criticised for not picking from the club's homegrown orchard.
Last season, he favoured declining fullback Pablo Zabaleta in central midfield, rather than 19-year-old Aleix Garcia, an actual central midfielder.
I don’t like to make things like this too big but if you score twice a hat-trick it’s quite diffcult to keep it a secret, and we don’t want to do that!Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp on his Under-17 World Cup Golden Boot winner Rhian Brewster
He also stuck with the inconsistent duo of Nicolas Otamendi and Aleksandar Kolarov, at the expense of Tosin Adarabioyo, a 20-year-old centre back who has been at the club since he was five.
Being young is tough enough in a wealthy league where the difference between success and failure is not always measured in trophies, but in the hundreds of millions of dollars that can be gained or lost in a single season.
Being young and English is even harder.
In January, a Uefa report showed that the EPL has the highest percentage of foreign footballers of any major European League - 69.2 per cent in fact.
Germany barely scraped into the top 10, in ninth position, with 49.2 per cent of the Bundesliga's footballers being foreign. Spain didn't make the top 10.
When it comes to actual playing time, the figures are even worse for English players.
According to a recent study from the International Centre for Sports Studies' Football Observatory, which looked at the percentage of minutes played by foreign footballers, foreigners accounted for 90.4 per cent of the playing time at Chelsea.
The Blues were the top club in that regard among the "Big Five" leagues.
Manchester City reached 78.4 per cent and United hit 77.6 per cent.
Guardiola may genuinely love Foden, but EPL managers generally have neither the time nor the inclination to pick local kids.
For Guardiola, EPL's B teams have long been the answer (and perhaps a convenient excuse for managers who won't pick English youngsters).
In Spain and Germany, B teams play competitive football in the lower leagues. They face superior teams and large, hostile crowds, as opposed to the empty arenas of England's reserve football.
In this regard, Guardiola is right. English teenagers are missing the physical intensity of B-team competition, which bridges the gap between the youth academy and first team in a way that reserve football never can.
But last year, the English Football League voted against any structural reform that might allow EPL B teams, fearing that the EPL's economic might could overwhelm lower league minnows.
Once again, financial considerations trumped football concerns.
And therein lies the saddest irony of all. The richer the EPL becomes, the poorer its senior national side is likely to be. Opportunities for native footballers, even World Cup-winning ones, will only shrink further.
Without a B team, only a brave manager can make or break a Young Lion.
Guardiola may praise Foden. What he must really do now is pick him.