Article from the Telegraph on the pursuit of young players born in 2003 whose schoolboy contracts expire at midnight on Sunday. Anyone who has seen the Mathew Briggs Documentary I have been posting on here (all links from here http://uptheclarets.com/messageboard/vi ... start=1477
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Best English academy talent being asked to make life-changing decisions earlier than ever as European giants come calling - by Sam Wallace - Chief Football Writer - 26 June 2019 • 4:50pm
For a small group of elite, English, teenage, footballers the world will change on Monday, the day in their young lives when the latest crop of graduates from the English academy system are allowed to walk out of their childhood clubs, as long as someone is prepared to pay.
And it seems that for many of the English generation born in 2003 - a good crop if not quite the vintage of those 2017 Under-17 World Cup winners born in 2000 - there are many clubs prepared to pay for them. When the calendar hits July 1, the date upon which schoolboy contracts expire, the market is already hot for the best young English players who can be prised away from their current academies by overseas clubs for relatively small compensation payments.
From last season’s England Under-16s squad, the West Bromwich Albion striker Louie Barry is expected to sign for Paris St-Germain having been courted by Barcelona. Harvey Elliott, the Fulham 16-year-old who made history in May as the youngest-ever player in the Premier League, has offers from Real Madrid and RB Leipzig. Liam Delap, son of Rory, and currently at Derby County, is expected to join Manchester City in a deal that could be worth up to £1.6 million. City tend to pay well over the compensation guidelines in order to maintain good relations with English clubs whom they may well deal with regularly for academy talent.
But for those boys moving overseas, there is the chance of a much cheaper deal for the buying club. Fifa compensation tariffs mean that they will pay around €90,000 for every season the boy has spent at his club from the age of 12. It is not an inconsiderable amount but for those clubs who have been scouting this generation of players for the last 18 months it is considered an acceptable risk: the question for the boys and their families is whether it suits them.
Attitudes have changed towards the English talent pool in the last two years, when Phil Foden and Jadon Sancho were part of that Under-17s group that won the World Cup in India. The top players and their families are being offered the life-changing money to switch their allegiance to club academies across Europe with guaranteed professional contracts at the first opportunity, although it is not an option that has been taken up by all of them.
The two leading players in England’s 2003-born generation are Karamoko Dembele, the south London born, Glasgow-based Celtic attacker who has played for England and Scotland at youth level; and Jude Bellingham, the jewel in the crown of Birmingham City’s academy. Both of them would have been the prime targets for all the most financially-powerful clubs in Europe and yet both of them have chosen to stay put.
Dembele signed professional aged 15 at Celtic before Christmas, two years ahead of the age he would have been able to do so in the English system. An extremely gifted left-footed dribbler and goalscorer, he turned 16 in February and was named in the Celtic squad for the Scottish Cup final in May. Six days earlier he had made his first-team debut in the final league game of the season against Hearts, another move intended by his club to show him that they can give him what the likes of Manchester City and Barcelona cannot: first-team opportunities.
For Bellingham, the motivation seems to be much the same. In the aftermath of Garry Monk’s departure, he is understood to have signed scholarship forms plus a lucrative professional deal at Birmingham when he turns 17 in 12 months’ time. Whoever succeeds Monk in the long-term will be expected to fast-track their brightest young talent into the first team. If Bellingham fulfils his potential then there is no doubt he will leave Birmingham in the next few years, but he will do so having gained valuable first-team experience. His club will benefit from the uplift in his value, selling him as a professional rather than for relatively meagre academy compensation.
All over the leading academies, there are young players being forced to make decisions about their future with serious money on the line. Their parents have to weigh up the advantages of joining a club in Europe with all the usual questions you might have about sending your teenager off to adapt to a new school in a new country with a new language to be learned. There is no question that it feels like the bold move and if it is in order to pursue a genuine first-team pathway then it has good intentions at its heart. But some of the clubs mentioned are as hard to crack as a top Premier League side, and some boys are going elsewhere for that reason.
Noah Ohio, a Dutch-born striker at Manchester City, another of the 2003 cohort who has represented England and Holland at junior international level, has turned down a scholarship, plus professional deal, at the club. He is understood to be another target for RB Leipzig, who have a track record of developing young players and can offer good professional deals to teenagers acquired on compensation payments. The best player at West Ham’s academy, Amadou Diallo, is another of the 2003-born group who has attracted serious interest around Europe.
This is modern football. The era of apprentices cleaning boots and mopping out showers while dreaming of their first-team chance are long past. The market is for the kids, and spotting the opportunities to acquire prime academy-honed talent that will appreciate in value considerably. The scouts were all in attendance in April when England Under-16s came third in the prestigious Montaigu tournament in western France, winning their third-place play-off against Brazil 4-0, which included goals from Dembele, Barry and Delap.
By the time they pull on an England shirt again, many of those players will have changed clubs and made a decision as profound to the success of their career as footballers will in this transfer window.
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