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German Youth Development

To its credit, the Premier League introduced the under 21 Premier League last season. The league was seen as an improvement on the older format, with more games and fiercer competition. While that is certainly true, it can be argued that it still not as beneficial for the players as it could be. After all, players still compete predominantly against players their age, players they have played against on numerous occasions and the frequency of games can be considered as inadequate as well. Since it is often argued that the best players have to play with people 2-3 years older than them, the under 21 league seems to be primarily beneficial for 17-18 year olds. Clubs put so much energy and money into the development of a player, only to see him left in a difficult state once he reaches 19,20 and has not yet broken into the first team.

To provide the necessary competition for youngsters, most top-flight clubs in England frequently turn to the option of loaning out their players. Usually a good number of players leave the club to gain experience in the lower English leagues or abroad - with more or less success. With regard to Arsenal, over the last few years, players either were not a good fit for their new clubs system, were not good enough, strong enough or, typically for Arsenal, got injured. Coming back to Germany, German clubs and their players are able to gain an experience that is completely different from the English approach.

Thomas Eisfeld, Arsenal German Youth International - Picture © Arsenal.com

Picture courtesy of Arsenal.com

Here, you get games in highly competitive leagues against fully developed players; in the case of the 3rd division, even professionals. Furthermore, the players are still at your club, play the same or similar system to the one utilised by the first team, whereas in England, players either play in a under 21 league games against people their age or they get thrown into a lower league team that usually has little in common with the parent club. Nevertheless, you might argue that the best players are going straight into the first team anyway. Well, yes and no. This is pretty much connected with the standing of the club.

If it is a 2nd division team or a weaker Bundesliga side, then sure, the chances of involvement increase. With bigger sides, chances may be slim. It is the same in the Premier League. Youngsters of clubs like United, City or even Arsenal will not get any Premier League experience just for the sake of getting some minutes under their belt. Admittedly, during my 'research' I was curious as well as to how many big players of the Bundesliga were actually enrolled in their B sides. The answer is, surprisingly many. For instance, when looking at the current German National Team, most of the big players, like Schweinsteiger, Lahm, Müller, Neuer, Klose or Gomez, spent a full season or two in their respective B team. Others, like Boateng, Mertesacker, Höwedes or Khedira got roughly half to a full season.

Per Mertesacker, Arsenal German International - Picture © Hannover.de

Picture courtesty of Hannover.de

Only special players like Götze, Özil or Schürrle went straight into the Bundesliga squad - for obvious reasons you might say - but they are the exception to the rule. At the end of the day, there will not be one feature that sets programs apart from another, it will always be the whole system that matters. German football has tried to implement structures and coaching methods that work in all age groups and that improve the respective players. So far, the changes made can be considered a success and they will hopefully continue to do so in the future.

Tell us what you think! If you agree, or have a different view, please leave a comment in the comments section or why not write a response or your own article on YouWrite?

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Tags: Arsenal FC, Mertesacker, Gnabry, Germany, Bundesliga, German Youth Football, Arsenal Youth, Eisfeld, Zelalem

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