For the majority of English footballers, playing the beautiful game abroad is never more than a passing thought. Indeed, most professionals stay close to home in England or Scotland where the multi-tiered systems always provide a team to play for.
However, some players have taken the chance to broaden their horizons and venture overseas in search of greener pastures. With that in mind, just who are the best English players currently starring in overseas competition?
5 best English footballers playing abroad
Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund)
Sancho has become the definitive English player starring in overseas competitions thanks to his meteoric rise with Borussia Dortmund. Having ditched Manchester City in 2017, Sancho’s move to the Bundesliga have proven to be a masterstroke with the winger becoming one of the best in his position anywhere in Europe.
His lightning pace has sliced apart defences across Germany and he has developed a game that provides assists as well as goals. A career best of 20 goals in 44 games in the 2019/20 season showed that Sancho can perform at an elite level alongside the 6 goals in 6 games which helped Dortmund win the 2021 DFB Pokal final and he is the posterboy for English footballers playing abroad.
Jude Bellingham (Borussia Dortmund)
Having shown off his raw talent in the EFL Championship with Birmingham City, Jude Bellingham had a plethora of options available both at home and abroad. Hedging his bets, Bellingham opted to link up with compatriot Jadon Sancho at Borussia Dortmund – a smart move all round.
The creative midfielder has settled in perfectly in German football and has developed a touch and awareness that belies many of his senior rivals on the pitch. Comfortable in being the mastermind of manoeuvers, Bellingham is slowly becoming a player that can split defences open with just one flick of a boot. A great future is surely beckoning for the teenage prodigy in European football.
Kieran Trippier (Atletico Madrid)
Having been one of England’s breakthrough stars of the 2018 World Cup, it was a bit surprising to see Trippier growing contentious when playing with Tottenham. He eventually swapped North London for the sunnier climates of Spain joining one of La Liga’s top sides – Atletico Madrid.
Trippier has solidified himself as a regular starter for Atletico with both his pace and passing abilities making him a valuable asset on the right flank for the Spanish giants. A 3 month ban in 2021 for betting breaches did undermine his spot for a time but Trippier returned to Spanish football without any rustiness and displayed why he has been so effective in another of Europe’s top leagues.
Ashley Young (Inter Milan)
Ashley Young’s transformation into a wing back at Manchester United has given the Englishman’s career a much needed second wind. Whilst he was deemed surplus to requirements at Old Trafford, Young switched focus to the continent where he was picked up by Italian giants Inter Milan becoming one of the few English footballers playing abroad.
The slower nature of Serie A has suited Young’s style perfectly with his pace and trickery still a handful for defences in the league. With a much wiser head on his shoulders too, Young has become an everpresent part of an Inter Milan side which won the 2020-21 Serie A title and ended Juventus’ near decade long dominance of the Italian top flight.
Jonathan Panzo (Dijon)
Many players have crossed the Channel from France to enjoy a career in English football but very few have tried going in the opposite direction. Dijon’s Jonathan Panzo has tried to break the mould though when he dropped out of Chelsea’s youth system to join Monaco.
His path in Ligue 1 wasn’t without its struggles but a move to mid-table side Dijon proved to be a masterstroke for the centre-back. He has become a powerful force in the Dijon backline and his strong physical presence has been noted by scouts on both sides of the Channel. With several England U21 caps under his belt, Panzo could about to show that French football is a great nurturing ground for young English talent and he rounds off our footballers playing abroad list.
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