If you look across the 24 League One teams in the 2015/16 season, you will find an array of young talent. Many of these are on loan from Premier League teams, hoping they will get that vital experience to help mould them into a first-team player at their parent club one day. It’s a system which seems not only beneficial for the lower league team; who get a hungry, young footballer with plenty of talent, but also beneficial for the parent club, whose young prodigy will get valuable playing time and a full season of football under their belt.
However, it’s a system which the Premier League isn’t best pleased with. They are willing to give; according to recent reports, a £3 million sum to the winner of the under-21 league, in order to stop Premier League teams from routinely sending out their best youngsters on loan. If by some minor miracle the top flight outfits were to look past the financial incentive, they will in fact see; as these examples prove, that League One is the best experience a young footballer could get.
Less than 12 months ago, Dele Alli was playing for MK Dons in League One. He was a crucial team member in helping them secure promotion to the Championship. Fast-forward to January 2016 and Alli has four England caps to his name, as well as 28 Appearances for a Tottenham side challenging for the top four. Just what was it about Dele Alli that made Pochettino so confident he would be able to fit into Spurs’ first team straight away? Perhaps it was that even at the tender age of 18, Alli had played over 60 times for MK Dons. His height and physicality meant he was able to cope against the toughest centre-backs League One could throw at him (even Ian Evatt). Aside from his relative physical prowess, it was his technical ability which meant he was able to attract the attention of bigger clubs. A hat-trick at Meadow Lane vs Notts County at just the age of 17 were three of the 22 goals he scored for MK Dons. The experience Dele Alli got from playing in League One is the reason he has started life in the Premier League so strongly.
Adam Armstrong is a player hoping to replicate the success Alli has achieved in the last 12 months. Armstrong is currently on loan at Coventry City from Premier League Newcastle United. To say the 18-year-old striker is currently setting League One alight is an understatement. With 16 league goals to his name already, Armstrong is the league’s top goal-scorer. He’s attracting national attention for his clinical finishing from all areas of the pitch and his dynamic movement. What he lacks in physicality and strength, he more than makes up for in his rapid acceleration and mobility. Armstrong spent the 2014/15 season on the fringes at Newcastle United, who regard him as a real prospect. By Armstrong’s own admission however, his loan at Coventry; which has recently been extended until the end of the season, has been a revelation. He has stated: “It’s my first loan and I’m loving every minute of it” and “I’m only young but I think I’ve learnt a lot in my time here and really enjoyed every minute of it.”
Therefore, Adam Armstrong is seemingly another perfect example of why League One is the best platform for helping potential become the real deal. There are plenty more examples as well: Ryan Mason, Jack Grealish, Andros Townsend and Saido Berahino to name a few household names who; at some stage in their young careers, gained crucial experience by playing in League One. Jacob Murphy, Reece Burke and Jordan Turnbull are among other notable players currently on loan from Premier League clubs to League One sides. They’re all pursuing the same dream and because of their decision to go out and play in League One, they’re already a step closer to reaching that ambition.
By Matt Booth
Featured Image: All rights reserved by joshjdss