The decline of Britain’s national teams is directly linked to the rise and rise of overseas players in the Premier League, according to Gary Neville in the Guardian.
Those that argue that you can’t have a league as rich in quality and entertainment as the Premier League without paying a price only has to look at Germany, Spain and, to an extent, Italy.
The Germans have managed to produce a golden generation of homegrown players while the Bundesliga generated both Champions League finalists this year. And Spain – home of Barcelona and Real Madrid - have done pretty well on the international scene, too.
But Neville has a point. Perhaps, with the exception of Bayern Munich, the vast majority of players in Bundesliga sides come from Germany. Of course there are imports, but not to the extent the Emirates, for example, where only six senior players are British.
Even Barcelona and Real Madrid, who have all the spending power in the world, maintain a Spanish core, despite the odd extravagant exception.
But the Premier League is different. Not only is there the traditionally high number of players from Scandinavia, but all corners of the globe are represented. It may surprise some to discover that Fulham have the lowest representation of British players in the Premier League, with only five homegrown players. And it’s perhaps interesting to note that only one of those five – Northern Ireland’s Aaron Hughes – has significant international experience.
With the pool of players available to England coach Roy Hodgson dwindling all the time, it’s perhaps time that the Premier League listened to Neville’s noble words and helped put something back into English football having taken so much.
While we all want to see the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Thierry Henry light up the Premier League, they must also do something to protect the interests of the country in which this great league is played.
Current spread of British players in the Premier League:
Fulham 5: Sidwell, Stockdale, Richardson, Briggs, Hughes
Arsenal 6: Wilshere, Walcott, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ramsey, Jenkinson, Gibbs
Chelsea 7: A Cole, Lampard, McEachran, Cahill, Terry, Hutchinson, Bertrand
Manchester City 8: Hart, Richards, Lescott, Milner, Sinclair, Rodwell, Barry, R R Wright
Sunderland 8: W Brown, Gardner, Wickham, A Johnson, Colback, Vaughan, Fletcher, Cattermole
Newcastle 10: Williamson, Gosling, R Taylor, Bigirimana, S Taylor, Sammy Ameobi, Dummett, Alnwick, Streete, A Campbell
Stoke City 11: Pennant, Ness, Adam, Shawcross, Kightly, Butland, Crouch, Etherington, Wilkinson, Shotton, Jerome
Aston Villa 12: Bake, Bennett, Agbonlahor, Albrighton, Steer, Westwood, Delph, Bowery, Gardner, Lowton, Delfouneso, Bent
Tottenham Hotspur 12: Rose, Huddlestone, Lennon, Parker, Bale, Naughton, Defoe, M Dawson, Walker, Livermore, Townsend, Carroll
Southampton 13: K Davis, Clyne, Lambert, S Davis, Rodriguez, Fox, Ward-Prowse, Cork, Lallana, Chambers, Shaw, Isgrove, Puncheon
West Brom 13: Foster, Ridgewell, Brunt, Myhill, Thorne, Daniels, McAuley, C Dawson, B Jones, Roofe, Nabi, Berahino, O’Neil
Hull City 14: Rosenior, Chester, Stewart, McLean, Fryatt, Dudgeon, Bruce, Townsend, Cracknell, Wilson, Boyd, Davies, Graham, Harper
Norwich City 14: Ruddy, R Martin, Whittaker, B Johnson, Turner, Howson, Nash, Fox, Bunn, E Bennett, Butterfield, Redmond, R Bennett, Hooper
Swansea City 14: N Taylor, A Williams, Britton, Shelvey, Dyer, Routledge, Monk, Lita, Moore, Obeng, J Richard, B Davies, Donnelly, Meade
Liverpool 15: G Johnson, Gerrard, Henderson, Sturridge, Allen, Sterling, Kelly, Flanagan, McLaughlin, Ibe, Wisdom, Sinclair, Morgan, L Jones, Ward
West Ham 15: McCartney, Nolan, Tomkins, Jarvis, Carroll, Collison, M Taylor, Morrison, Noble, Collins, Downing, J Cole, Spence, Potts, Moncur
Everton 17: Hibbert, Baines, Jagielka, Naismith, Barkley, Osman, Stones, Garbutt, Kennedy, Lundstram, Browning, Hope, Pennington, Grant, Touray, Long, Springthorpe
Manchester United 17: P Jones, Ferdinand, Evans, Rooney, Giggs, Smalling, Carrick, Young, Welbeck, Cleverley, Fletcher, Zaha, Wooton, Keane, Amos, Johnstone, Powell
Cardiff City 19: Marshall, McNaughton, Taylor, Hudson, Turner, Whittingham, Cowey, Conway, Connolly, Smith, Noone, Mutch, Harris, Ralls, Maynard, Lappin, F Campbell, Lewis, Bellamy
Crystal Palace 21: Ward, K Phillips, Dobbie, O’Keefe, J Thomas, Gayle, Murray, Wilbraham, Gabbidon, J Williams, Moxey, Blake, Parsons, Ramage, Appiah, Price, De Silva, Wynter, Boateng, Allassani, Fitzsimons