An increasing number of British footballers are now testing themselves by representing their country in foreign fields.
British footballers have stereotypically been cast as reluctant to broaden their horizons away from the comfort of the English major divisions. After all, you just can’t buy Yorkshire Tea in Italy.
But we’ve taken a closer look at the 21 British players currently plying their trade in the top divisions in Spain, Germany, Italy and France.
Hailed as the best Birmingham City prospect since Trevor Francis, Bellingham enjoyed a break-out 2019-20 season and lit up an otherwise prosaic Championship campaign for the Blues.
With an ability to dribble confidently at defenders and an innate self-confidence, it’s easy to forget Bellingham wasn’t even alive for Peter Enckelman’s infamous error in the 2002 Second City derby.
Naturally some of Europe’s biggest clubs expressed an interest in the midfielder, with Borussia Dortmund winning the race for his services. The £25million fee made Bellingham the most expensive 17-year-old in history and he’s made a fine job of hitting the ground running. Bellingham scored his first Dortmund goal in a German Cup win over MSV Duisburg and provided an assist on his Bundesliga debut days later.
Bellingham appears to be a perfect fit for BVB.
Ramsey became the highest-paid British footballer of all time when he joined Juventus in summer 2019 for a reported wage of £400,000 a week.
With the likes of Miralem Pjanic, Sami Khedira, Blaise Matuidi, Adrien Rabiot and Rodrigo Bentancur to compete with, Ramsey found it difficult to make an impression in Turin – the Welsh midfielder was dogged by injury niggles and was sidelined soon after scoring on his debut.
However, under the management of Andrea Pirlo, Ramsey has been given the role of trequartista and excelled during their opening win over Sampdoria.
Many neutrals will be hoping that Ramsey can deliver the consistent performances his talent suggests he can.
The former Spurs player finds himself in Spain, after leaving north London on a permanent deal last summer to join Tenerife.
After only three apperances for the club, Shashoua has been loaned out to Atletico Baleares who he previously represented during the 2018-19 season.
A name which will be familiar to many football fans in this country despite never appearing in English football, Harper initially generated hype for his performances in Real Madrid’s academy.
In 2015, he moved to Brighton, only for his spell on the south coast to be disrupted by injuries. He returned to Spain two years later, impressing enough with Malaga to earn a move to La Liga side Getafe, although he is spending 2020-21 at Cartagena.
It is not hard to imagine Ed Woodward as a frustrated parent, dangling his keys in front of his crying child in a futile attempt at a distraction.
This summer, Jadon Sancho was those set of keys. Manchester United’s attempt at luring the winger back to England was met with stubborn resistance from Borussia Dortmund and he remains a BVB player.
His recent performances suggest that Sancho is essentially unbothered by this development.
Having flitted between West Ham and the Bundesliga for a number of years, first with a couple of loan spells at Borussia Monchengladbach and then with Augsburg, Oxford joined the latter on a permanent deal last summer reportedly worth around £2.1million.
Having carried Mesut Ozil in his back pocket on his Premier League debut in 2015, it is hoped that Oxford can deliver on his undoubted potential.
The man whose name was seemingly generated by an avid early 2000s football supporter was in his second season with Sampdoria last year. The former Leeds United midfielder made 29 appearances for the club in all competitions.
“My instinct is to be physical, but here you have to do it with your mind first,” he told ESPN in April 2019. “The style is different in England. There, it’s boom boom, run, be physical, play a little. Here’s it’s play, be clever with your movement. It’s very fixed.”
However, it appears as if Sampdoria have cut their losses with Vieira. In October 2020, the England U21 international joined Hellas Verona on a season-long-loan with an option to buy.
Born during the chart reign of t.A.t.U’s ‘All The Things She Said’, Musiala left the battery farm of Chelsea’s academy for Bayern Munich last summer.
Having been an integral part of England’s U17 side, the attacking midfielder scored his first senior goal during Bayern’s 8-0 demolition of Schalke in September 2020.
To be accomplishing such a feat already suggests Musiala is a footballer of immense potential.
Gnabry & Sane’s reaction when Jamal Musiala scored 8th goal against Schalke 😂😂
Many of us also react the same when we humiliate our Rivals in our neighbourhood 😂 pic.twitter.com/HoRNkkqTiF
— Celestial Football (@CelestialFutbal) September 21, 2020
Mavididi made headlines two years ago after becoming the first English player since David Platt to represent Juventus.
The forward left Arsenal for Juve in 2018 but was only expected to feature for their reserve side, and the 21-year-old spent last season on loan at Dijon.
In summer 2020, Mavididi joined Montpellier on a permanent basis. He has so far made three Ligue 1 outings.
It seems an age since Ashley Young was dazzling the natives at Villa Park, putting in performances that prompted a rather excited Martin O’Neill to declare the winger ‘on par with Lionel Messi’.
While Young clearly never quite reached those heights, he has carved out an exceptionally good career for himself. After nine years at Manchester United, where he evolved from flying winger to steady full-back and swallowed bird poo for the cause, Young moved to Inter Milan in January 2020.
Fuelled by Antonio Conte’s desire to create a Premier League retirement home at the San Siro, Young has quietly impressed in Italy. He made 25 appearances last season, scoring four goals and cementing a place in the team.
Young seems to be enjoying life on the Italian peninsula, as seen by the staggering growth of his hairline.
The world really has gone crazy now. Ashley Young has hair. Let me repeat it for you. That same Ashley Young has hair. 😳 pic.twitter.com/VLyMURjIpj
— FutbolBible (@FutbolBible) May 18, 2020
Now 30, Obadeyi has enjoyed an incredibly nomadic career that has taken him to Portugal, Scotland and now France via eight different clubs in the English Football League.
He is now into his third season with Sochaux, who were relegated to Ligue 2 last season.
Having left Celtic to try his hand in Italy in January 2018, Henderson first joined Bari after a successful trial with the Serie B club.
Bari, however, were declared bankrupt at the end of the season, but Henderson had impressed enough to earn a move to Verona.
Playing under World Cup winner Fabio Grosso, the 23-year-old helped Verona win promotion to Serie A in 2019, becoming the first Scottish player to appear in Serie A since Graeme Souness turned out for Sampdoria in 1986.
However, Henderson has since left the club. Having first spent a spell on loan at Empoli, the midfielder joined Leece in the summer of 2020.
After starring in England’s run to the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup, Trippier suffered such a dip in form with Tottenham in 2018-19 that he subsequently lost his place entirely in Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions squad.
A £20million move to Atletico Madrid appeared from the leftfield, but it proved to have the desired effect, as a re-energised Trippier was a regular starter for Atleti, assisting Alvaro Morata’s winner in the opening match against Getafe, and has since returned to the international fold.
His role in Atletico’s Champions League success over Liverpool was a timely reminder for domestic audiences about the revitalisation of Kieran Trippier.
Despite reportedly attracting interest from Manchester United, Appiah made a surprise £8million move from Nottingham Forest to Spanish second-tier outfit Almeria last summer. Still just 19, the Amsterdam-born England youth international made only eight first-team appearances for Forest.
His time in Spain has not proven massively successful thus far. The striker made 21 appearances and scored a single goal during his debut season with Almeria.
Still, plenty of time to approve.
Matondo followed in Jadon Sancho’s footsteps by leaving Manchester City for Germany, joining Schalke in an eye-catching £11million deal in January 2019.
The winger, 19, made eight appearances for the first team in 2018-19 but enjoyed a breakout campaign last year. In a team whose form could kindly be described as schizophrenic, the young Welshman played 20 league matches and scored two goals. He also has four international caps for his country.
He has been subject to reported interest from Atalanta and Manchester United, demonstrating the esteem of which he is held.
The London-born defender has already explored the continent with the enthusiasm of a gap-year student with an inter-rail pass.
Having already represented Monaco and Cercle Brugge, Panzo has moved to another picturesque city in the form of Dijon – turning down interest from Championship sides Coventry, Derby and Swansea.
Having made his England U21 debut last year, the youngster could be set for a fulfilling career.
They say absence makes the heart grow fonder. There is no more accurate illustration of this than the reputation of Chris Smalling.
Regarded with the fondness of three-day leftovers by Manchester United supporters, Smalling’s performances in Serie A for Roma and United’s continued defensive ineptitude made some pine for the return of the ex-England defender.
Alas, Smalling signed a permanent deal with the Rome giants in October 2020. Having seemingly been invigorated by his time abroad, few would begrudge Smalling continued success in the Italian capital.
Previously on the books of Everton, Hornby made one substitute appearance during a Europa League game three years ago and never looked likely to break through at Goodison Park.
The Scottish forward has made the move to France after joining Reims for an undisclosed fee.
Musah recently became the first Englishman to play for Valencia when he started their opening 4-2 La Liga win over Levante in September 2020. Having impressed with his performance, Musah kept his place for the club’s following match at Celta Vigo.
Only 17 years old, the former Arsenal academy star has already established a reputation for his slick passing, creativity and pace.
Both club and country will be hoping his development accelerates during his time in Spain.
The brother of Watford utility man Nathaniel Chalobah, the Chelsea youngster has dipped his toes in foreign waters by joined French side Lorient on loan for the season.
Having spent previous spells at Ipswich and Huddersfield, where he appeared regularly, Chelsea will be hoping Chalobah’s latest challenge will further broaden the player’s horizons and make him a valuable asset in years to come.