How the 23 Brits abroad in Europe’s major leagues have fared in 2019-20
The growing trend of British players moving abroad to play their football has continued into 2019-20, with a number of success stories to be found around the rest of Europe and beyond.
While established internationals like Aaron Ramsey and Kieran Tripper swapped the Premier League for sunnier climes, a number of young players also headed abroad to further their development.
We’ve taken a closer look at how the 25 Brits abroad in Europe’s major leagues – La Liga, Serie A, the Bundesliga and Ligue 1 – have fared in 2019-20.
After suffering a post-World Cup comedown in his final season at Tottenham, Trippier has been revitalised since joining Atletico Madrid for what now looks like something of a steal at £20million.
Only two Atletico players provided more assists in La Liga than the right-back, who has been clearly helped by Diego Simeone’s influence in improving the defensive side of his game.
“I’m delighted to be part of this team and enjoying every single moment of playing abroad,” he said after helping Atleti knock Liverpool out of the Champions League in March. “I didn’t want to come to the end of my career and regret not going.
“It is a big change, different culture, different types of football, but I am loving every minute of it and hopefully my performances for Atlético can keep me in the England squad. I want to play at the highest level for as long as I can in order to play for England. That’s my objective.”
Oh, and everyone at Atletico calls him ‘Rooney’ after Diego Costa gave him the nickname, “because I’m the only English player here and Rooney’s the only one he’s heard of.” Lovely stuff.
Four years ago, Burke became the most expensive Scottish player in history at the age of just 19 when he joined RB Leipzig from Nottingham Forest in a £13million deal.
A year later, he broke his own record when he signed for West Brom for £15million, but he has played just 24 times in three seasons at the Baggies and found himself loaned out twice.
After spending the second half of last season on loan at Celtic, the winger spent 2019-20 on loan at Alaves, scoring once and providing two assists in 31 La Liga appearances, only 14 of which came as starts. He is now being linked with a return to Celtic or a transfer to Turkish outfit Trabzonspor.
It all feels a little unnecessary, doesn’t it? Bale’s achievements at Real Madrid should be enough to make him a bona-fide hero at the Bernabeu, yet after all the optimism he would step out of Cristiano Ronaldo’s shadow to become the main man, his time in the Spanish capital has grown increasingly toxic.
His 2019-20 season has amounted to 20 appearances, three goals, two assists, plenty of boos from his own supporters and one brilliantly piss-boiling flag.
🏴 Celebrated with a “Wales. Golf. Madrid. In that order.” flag
🏌️♂️ Constantly does golf poses during training sessions
😂 Has the biggest club in the world on absolute strings
Happy Birthday Gareth Bale 🎂 pic.twitter.com/Z3bOJ5SkLe
— ODDSbible (@ODDSbible) July 16, 2020
Best known as the Scottish prodigy who was on the books of Real Madrid, Harper is now 24 and stepped up to La Liga from the Spanish second tier by joining Getafe last summer.
However, he was sent back on loan to the second tier with Alcorcon, where he made just 13 appearances. His prospects of breaking into Getafe’s first team were not helped by their high-flying fifth-placed finish.
Only the fifth player to register 15+ goals and assists in Europe’s top five leagues since Opta began. He’s frighteningly good, but will we be seeing him back in England next season?
Remember when Everton loaned Lookman to RB Leipzig and he looked absolutely brilliant?
That was two years ago now, and since then he has failed to establish himself back at Goodison Park and returned to the Bundesliga outfit, only to make a solitary league start in 2019-20.
According to Bild, Leipzig are already hoping to sell the forward after his lacklustre campaign.
Kenny was a team-mate of Lookman’s at Everton but has fared much better in the Bundesliga since joining Schalke on loan last summer.
The right-back made 34 appearances in all competitions, scoring twice and providing three assists.
Everton have rejected Schalke’s bid for a second loan move, with Carlo Ancelotti hoping the 23-year-old can provide competition for Seamus Coleman, although the Liverpool Echo suggest he could still be sold should a tempting offer be made.
Baker’s loan at Leeds United was cut short midway through last season after the Chelsea midfielder failed to make an impression at Elland Road, and it was a similar story for the former England Under-21 international at Fortuna Dusseldorf this term.
His ‘highlights’ in Germany include nine appearances in all competitions, an own goal and an accusation of going AWOL from manager Friedhelm Funkel.
A Fortuna Dusseldorf fan group was recently asked about Baker on Twitter and summed it all up nicely by replying: “Who?”
“My conscience tells me that if, for example, Baker, Brown, and Solanke are not national team players in a few years, I should blame myself,’ Jose Mourinho said as Chelsea boss when Baker was still just 19. He’s 25 now, and if anything seems further away from the England squad than ever before.
Having spent three separate loan spells in Germany from West Ham, Oxford finally made the permanent switch last summer by joining Augsburg on a four-year deal.
Now 21, he is still waiting to find some rhythm in his career, playing just 367 minutes of Bundesliga football across 12 appearances in 2019-20.
A quick Twitter search of his name brings up stories linking him with moves to Crystal Palace, Middlesbrough or Luton.
Much was made of Borussia Monchengladbach’s signing of Bennetts from Tottenham in 2018. The 21-year-old had previously been the subject of an international allegiance tug of war between England (where he was born and raised), Germany (where his mother is from) and Nigeria (where is dad is from).
His move to Germany has been made easier by speaking the language fluently, but the 21-year-old had to wait two years before making his senior debut for Gladbach, which finally came in June 2020.
Injuries have stunted his progress, and the challenge is now to push on in 2020-21 after putting those frustrations behind him.
After showing glimpses of his potential for Chelsea and Wales, Ampadu was sent on loan to RB Leipzig to gain more first-team experience.
Injury problems meant he only played seven times in all competitions, but Chelsea fans probably think it was all worthwhile for his performance in Leipzig’s win over Spurs in the Champions League alone.
According to Goal, Ethan Ampadu aims to stay at Chelsea next season and fight for his place.
Lampard is a huge fan and the club have yet to push for another loan move for Ampadu, leaving the door open for a full 2020/21 season at Chelsea.
He’d be a great option at DM and CB. pic.twitter.com/9OYxGAVlBr
— LDN (@LDNFootbalI) August 17, 2020
Wales international Matondo followed in Jadon Sancho’s footsteps by swapping Manchester City for the Bundesliga, joining Schalke for a report £11million fee in January 2019.
While he is yet to make quite the same impact as Sancho in Germany, the 19-year-old’s performances have led to reports suggesting he is being eyed by Manchester United and Real Madrid. The winger has a €60million release clause in his contract, while Manchester City have a €46.5million buyback option.
“I just want to do well at Schalke and give back what they have invested into me,” Matondo told the Manchester Evening News in May. “I just want to give my all and then whatever happens in the future happens. Never say never.”
Okoroji’s name is relatively unknown in England, despite the half-Englishman spending a decade in Bayern Munich’s youth system, having been brought up in Germany by an English mother and Nigerian father.
The 23-year-old moved on to Augsburg in 2015 and then Freiburg three years later. He has played twice in the Bundesliga for Freiburg but spent the 2019-20 season on loan at Jahn Regensburg in the second tier.
After providing a goal and five assists in 34 appearances from left-back, he has already agreed to join Paderborn on loan for the 2020-21 campaign.
Having failed to make a single competitive appearance for Everton, Evans joined Paderborn on a two-and-a-half-year deal at the end of January but was unable to prevent them from suffering relegation back to the second tier.
Smalling has got his career back on track at Roma, with perhaps the highest praise of his displays coming from England boss Gareth Southgate, who had previously written off the centre-back for his perceived inability to play out from the back.
“I probably regretted the way of [relaying the message],” Southgate said in March. “By praising others for certain attributes there was [implied] criticism for Chris. It was my fault and it was unfair on him.”
It remains to be seen whether Roma will be able to strike a deal permanently for the 30-year-old, but Smalling may need to get out of Old Trafford if Manchester United sign David Brooks.
Vieira initially shone after breaking through at Leeds United but began to somewhat lose his way before joining Sampdoria for £7million in the summer of 2018.
The midfielder made just six Serie A starts in his debut campaign and was sent off on his second start in 2019-20 but has begun to establish himself in Italy by ending his second season with 29 appearances in all competitions.
Reports suggest he is being targeted by a number of Premier League clubs, with West Ham having seen a £12million bid rejected by Sampdoria in January.
The name on plenty of Liverpool fans’ lips last summer after his agent Saif Rubie accused the club of “mentally bullying” the youngster, Duncan forced through a £1.8million move to Fiorentina, but it has not worked out for the 19-year-old cousin of Steven Gerrard.
Duncan is yet to make a senior appearance for La Viola, with sporting director Daniele Prade saying in January: “In his head, he wanted to play immediately with Fiorentina. We are seeing what to do with him because playing in the ready-to-go first team is not easy.”
Coincidentally, he is now represented by Sasch Breese of German SportsTotal agency after ending his association with Rubie.
Former Celtic midfielder Henderson moved to Italy in 2018, joining Bari, before switching to Hellas Verona six months later after Bari went bankrupt.
He helped Verona to promotion to Serie A in 2018-19, becoming the first Scot since Graeme Souness in 1986 to appear in Italy’s top flight at the start of the campaign, only to drop back down to Serie B with a loan move to Empoli.
The 24-year-old scored once and provided four assists for Empoli, who have an option to make the transfer permanent.
One of Juventus’ small army of central midfielders, Ramsey has been in and out of the side in his first season in Turin.
Of his 35 appearances in all competitions, only 14 were as starts – he played 90 minutes just once, grabbing a goal and assist in a 2-0 victory over fierce rivals Inter – prompting speculation he could be set for a return to the Premier League.
Speaking to Sky Sports, journalist Gianluca Di Marzio insisted Ramsey will remain at Juve, saying: “He is on a lot of money, with a good contract, so it would be difficult to find another solution.
“Also I think he is not the one Juventus want to sell. (Sami) Khedira is the one. (Blaise) Matuidi has finished his contract (and has now moved to MLS). So I think Ramsey will stay at Juventus.”
That Inter team of ageing ex-Premier League players under Antonio Conte confuses us. The fact that Young started the 2019-20 season as Manchester United captain blows our mind. The way he’s been pretty good in Serie A and could end the season a Europa League winner means we don’t quite know what to believe anymore.
Having swapped League One for Ligue 1 in January 2019, Maja scored eight goals in all competitions for Bordeaux in 2019-20 at a not-too-shabby rate of one every 111.75 minutes.
Just don’t mention his name in Sunderland.
Former Arsenal prospect Mavididi made history last season by becoming the first Englishman to appear for Juventus since David Platt in 1992.
The striker was signed as a reserve player by Juve and was sent on loan to Dijon for the 2019-20 season, scoring five times in Ligue 1.
He convinced Dijon president Olivier Delcourt not to activate a €5million option to make the transfer permanent as he wanted to return to England, only to then join fellow Ligue 1 outfit Montpellier in a €6.3million deal.
“He said to me that he wants to return to England at all costs,” Delcourt told L’Equipe. “True or false, we will see. He certainly disappointed me with his attitude. It is a little self-inflated on his part.”
A product of Chelsea’s academy and a member of England’s Under-17 World Cup-winning side, Panzo joined Monaco in 2018 and made his first two Ligue 1 appearances at the start of the 2019-20 campaign.
He was then sent out on loan to Cercle Brugge, reflecting on his experience with Get French Football News: “It was good, obviously a different experience, but it was difficult as well given the position we were in, fighting relegation.
“So it was a hard time but it was a good experience for me, although I’m not used to losing as much as we did but obviously it was a lesson learned and we managed to stay up in the league and that’s what matters.”
Reports vary about where the 19-year-old’s future lies. There are some suggestions that he will remain at Monaco, but others suggest they could be tempted to cash in for €4million-€5million – Derby County, Swansea City, Coventry City, Werder Bremen and Dijon have all been linked.