Brits Abroad: The 20 British players in Europe’s major leagues in 21-22
There’s been a noticeable increase in British footballers playing abroad in recent years.
As the England national team improves, with Scotland and Wales also appearing at this summer’s Euros, teams from the continent have taken notice at the number of technically proficient talents produced on these shores and signed some of them up.
We’ve taken a closer look at the 20 British players currently plying their trade in the top divisions in Spain, Germany, Italy and France.
After losing his way somewhat at Spurs, eyebrows were raised when Atletico Madrid bought Trippier in 2019.
But the move to Spain has been a masterstroke. Under the tutelage of Diego Simeone, the full-back has improved defensively while retaining his attacking threat from crosses and set-pieces.
Trippier made 28 appearances for Atleti’s 2020-21 title-winning side and has established himself as Gareth Southgate’s go-to specialist defender with England.
Spurs must wish they had him back.
After being marginalised under Thomas Tuchel, Abraham became linked with a series of clubs over the summer transfer window.
Many expected him to stay in London with either Arsenal or West Ham but the striker made a surprise move to Roma for a fee of £34 million.
And Abraham has become an instant fan’s favourite in Rome. Registering two assists on his debut, Abraham has notched up four goals in his first nine Roma appearances and will be looking to play his way back into the England squad.
— AS Roma English (@ASRomaEN) October 2, 2021
It’s been a stellar 2021 for Tomori – even Paolo Maldini has praised his performances for AC Milan.
Smalling signed a permanent deal with the Roma in October 2020 after impressing on loan from Manchester United
Seemingly invigorated by his time abroad, few would have begrudged Smalling continued success in the Italian capital. But injuries derailed his 2020-21 season and the centre-back was limited to only 16 league appearances.
He would have been forgiven for having a sense of apprehension when Mourinho arrived this summer but he’s been a semi-regular presence in the Roma side so far, even managing a goal in the UEFA Conference League.
After five years with Chelsea, Mola made the move to Stuttgart in January 2020.
He may have only played a grand total of one minute in the Bundesliga this season but the midfielder made a goalscoring debut for the England U20s during a 6-1 victory over Romania in September 2021.
Yeah, Bellingham is a star and Dortmund will do well to keep hold of him next summer.
Borussia Dortmund’s 3 #UCL goals so far this season:
⚽️ Jude Bellingham goal
🅰️ Jude Bellingham assist
🅰️ Jude Bellingham assist
Directly involved in 3/3 💫💫💫 pic.twitter.com/TsMDkXfXVb
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) September 28, 2021
Bennetts joined Borussia Monchengladbach from Tottenham’s academy back in 2018 – and has found appearances hard to come by in Germany.
The striker made one substitute appearance for Gladbach in June 2020 and has matched that tally in the 2021-22 season. Bennetts enjoyed a loan spell at League One side Ipswich Town in between, scoring a single goal in 30 appearances for one of English football’s biggest underachievers.
It feels like a long time ago since Oxford kept Mesut Ozil in his back pocket on his Premier League debut.
Having flitted between West Ham and the Bundesliga for a number of years, firstly with Borussia Monchengladbach and then at Augsburg, Oxford joined the latter on a permanent deal in 2019 that was reportedly worth around £2.1million.
He played 24 times for a side that finished 13th in the Bundesliga last season, split almost equally between starts and substitute appearances.
Bayern Munich have registered interest in a host of English talent and secured Richards from Championship club Reading during the summer transfer window.
After making the left-back slot his own at the Madjeski Stadium, Richards has been in the matchday squad for five of Bayern’s Bundesliga matches and played a full 45 minutes of football in the 7-0 hammering of VfL Bochum in mid-September.
He may be up against Alphonso Davies for a first-team place but Richards has been given the number three shirt at Bayern and is considered a hot prospect by the club.
The only goalkeeper on our list, Green currently plays between the sticks at Saint-Etienne in Ligue 1 – the city where England infamously lost to Argentina at the 1998 World Cup.
Having been raised in France by an English father and French mother, Green made his professional debut for the club in April 2021 in a 2-0 win against Nîmes, keeping a clean sheet and saving a penalty.
The 21-year-old was included in the France squad for the U21 European Championship but switched his allegiance to England this summer and was named in Lee Carsley’s debut squad.
Mavididi made headlines two years ago after becoming the first English player to represent Juventus since David Platt (the footballer, not the hairdresser on Coronation Street).
The forward left Arsenal for Italy in 2018 but never made the grade at Juventus and he joined Montpellier on a permanent deal in 2020.
Nine goals in 40 appearances was an admirable return in his debut season and Mavididi already has two goals in four Ligue 1 games this season.
Le but de Stephy Mavididi ! ⚽️🔥💪🔷️🔶️ pic.twitter.com/TYba7ZQy60
— Lucas34 (@lucaschampainne) September 12, 2021
After spells with Crystal Palace and Leyton Orient, Lukema moved to France in 2020 and signed for Troyes on a four-year deal.
The winger helped Troyes to promotion from Ligue 2 and has made five substitute appearances in the French top flight in 2021-22 so far.
It feels remarkable that Roberts is still on Manchester City’s books.
Following loan spells at *checks notes* Celtic, Girona, Norwich, Middlesbrough and Derby County, the 24-year-old is spending the season out in France with Troyes.
With only 14 minutes of football to his name, Roberts will be hoping to achieve more game-time to revive a somewhat stalled career.
Despite their best efforts, Manchester United were unable to sign Gomes to a contract extension and were forced to release him in June 2020.
Lille quickly snapped him up before sending to Boavista on a season-long loan – where Gomes shone. He scored six league goals and picked up two Man of the Match awards in Portugal, earning him a place in Lille’s first-team squad.
United are hardly short of attacking talent but it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see Gomes make his former club feel regretful about letting him go.
Angel Gomes 🎯😍
A wonderful free-kick to put Boavista 1-0 up v Moreirense.
— Próxima Jornada (@ProximaJornada1) February 19, 2021
It’s a shame that Scotland already have Andy Robertson and Kieran Tierney, because 19-year-old left-back Hickey is really starting to turn heads in Serie A.
The teenager left Hearts for Bologna in the summer of 2020, but was only on the periphery last term. This season he’s playing a much more prominent role, having started each of their seven matches so far.
Ahead of Scotland Under-21 duty, having earned his first call-up for Scot Gemmill’s side this international break, he scored his second goal of the season for Bologna in a 3-0 victory over Maurizio Sarri’s Lazio. It’s surely only a matter of time before he goes on to play for the senior team.
Celtic academy graduate Liam Henderson left his boyhood club for Serie B side Bari back in 2018, and has remained in Italy ever since, going on to represent Hellas Verona, Empoli and Lecce across the top two tiers.
This summer the midfielder returned to Empoli and has featured in all seven of the newly-promoted club’s matches back in the Scottish top-flight.
He also still awaits that first call-up from Steve Clarke. At 25, you wonder if it will ever arrive.
Former Everton youth product and Scotland Under-21 international Hornby is back with Ligue 1 side Stage Reims, having been loaned to Aberdeen for the latter half of last season.
He’s yet to play a minute for the club in 2021-22.
In the summer, Bale said it would be “chaos” if he revealed his next move after his loan back to Tottenham last season.
The reality turned out not to be that chaotic at all: he’s been welcomed back into the fold at Real Madrid by Carlo Ancelotti.
The 32-year-old has one goal in three appearances in La Liga this season, but a hamstring injury looks set to keep him out until the winter.
Wales international Ampadu is only 21 but he’s already on his third loan away from parent club Chelsea, this time at newly-promoted Venezia.
He’s made two appearances so far – 1-1 draws with Torino and Cagliari – both of which have seen him booked.
The club have only won one of seven matches so far this season and look to be in for a relegation scrap. But Ampadu can take solace in wearing one of the sexiest kits in Europe.
🇮🇹🏴 | Ethan Ampadu made his Venezia debut against Torino last night 🟠⚫️🟢 pic.twitter.com/dWnTK6o53e
— welshfootie (@welshfootie) September 28, 2021
The Arsenal favourite has been linked with a return to the Premier League as soon as January, having fallen out of favour under Max Allegri at Juventus.
He’s played more minutes for Wales than his club so far this season, with just one start in all competitions for the Old Lady.