One of the biggest news stories of last week was that former Arsenal youngster becoming the first Englishman since Gary Lineker to play for the Catalan giants in 29 years.
It was one of the top stories (or 2nd lead stories) on many of the British press pages. A celebration of a British youngster forging a career abroad, whilst also bashing The Arsenal for the hit, clicks and advertising revenue.
Let me address the second point first.
Marcus McGuane joined Barcelona on 30 January 2018. He had 6 months left on his Arsenal contract and Barcelona came sniffing around. Arsenal decided to sell the youngster rather than lose him for a tribunal fee in the summer.
It has then been reported that on 7 March 2018, McGuane played forthe FC Barcelona first team in their Supercopa de Catalunya final (Catalan Super Cup Final), coming on as a 77th minute substitute. This is where the fallacy begins.
Poor journalists, I imagine just out of University, writing stuff for hits to justify keeping their job, picked up on each others story. They started writing things such as “McGuane was called in to the Barcelona first team after impressing for the B team.”
Two minutes of doing their own research would have realised this was just a fabricated story that they have all needed up copy and pasting from each other, making it real. Fake news.
Before the Supercopa de Catalunya final, McGuane has started 2 games for Barcelona B. He had made a further 2 substitute appearances. He was on the bench for their last Segunda División game.
Now on one hand, I will praise (and more of this later) McGuane for going to Spain and, at 18 years old, is playing for their B team. On the other hand, he has not exactly been the revelation our hyperbole media are making out that he is.
Secondly, we have the “first team debut”.
The Supercopa de Catalunya is not a real game. Again, a lack of research went into this by the British press.
Introduced in 2014, it is a match held between the two highest finishing Catalonian based teams in Spanish football from the previous season. A
It is a game governed by the Catalan Football Federation, and to host the game, they actually need to get Barcelona and Espanyol to agree to it. Hence why since its inception 5 years ago, it has only been contested 3 times.
It is not an officially recognised game.
Therefore, to summaries, those media outlets trying to promote McGuane “playing foir the Barcelona first team” as a way to bash Arsenal are ill informed, and simply lack knowledge and are too lazy to have done their own research.
As for McGuane himself, he was never the “wonderkid” that the media promoted him as when he joined Barcelona.
Yes, joining Barcelona shows that he clearly has talent, but he was actually struggling for game time at Arsenal.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles had been promoted to the first team, and Joe Willock and Josh DaSilva, 2 central midfielders in the same age group as McGuane were showing more promise and getting more game time in the League Cup and Europa League.
Basically McGuane was struggling for game time due to the development of Josh Dasilva and Joe Willock.
On top of other players around the same age progressing better than him, there was also talk of players younger than him pushing him for a place in the reserves. The writing was on the wall when he refused to sign a new contract, and Arsenal cut their losses.
Whilst this might come across that I am slating McGuane, I am trying not too, I am merely trying to explain the exact situation he was in at Arsenal and how he is doing for Barcelona.
I actually think it is brilliant that McGuane has gone abroad.
He could have stayed at Arsenal, signed the new deal, and sat and not progressed, taking the £10-20,000 a week he possibly could have commanded.
You see that at both Arsenal and a lot of other clubs (Chelsea in particular). 18 year olds signing a 4 or 5 year deal, becoming instant millionaires, with no hope of breaking through.
They get loaned out throughout England and Europe for the next 4 or 5 years, before the club decide to dump them somewhere. Careers in tatters, but millionaires at the same time.
It is the poor attitude of players that causes this. They would rather stay in the comfort of their current club, sign a new contract, and took the foot off the pedal, rather than take a risk and move on.
What is even more impressive about McGuane, and the likes his former Arsenal trainees Chris Willock and Kaylen Hinds, as well as former Manchester City starlet Jadon Sancho is that they have decided to leave big clubs for a move abroad.
It would have been easy for all 4 to accept new contracts, and then be loaned abroad knowing they have the security of a multi-million pound contract setting them up for life. Gone are the days when a failed 21 year old football ends up as a day labourer!
Rather than sign a new contract with Arsenal, sit in Arsenal reserves, perhaps be loaned out to Preston North End, Bristol Rovers, Charlton, Wycombe Wanderers or Walsall, he has made the decision to move his life abroad.
We often see foreign players coming to England to join English academies. The money a 18 year old earns at Arsenal, Manchester City or Chelsea is vastly superior to what they would get at Barcelona, Real Madrid or Bayern Munich. But we rarely see them make the move the other way.
A move to Barcelona is a fantastic opportunity for McGuane. A chance to live and work in another city, another country. To learn new skills, a new language, a new way of life.
Much better to be playing for Barcelona B in the Spanish Second Division, then be loaned out to Walsall.
Far play to the lad, it takes guts and ambition to make the move, and whilst he might not exactly have made the huge breakthrough some in the British media portray, he is performing well and should be commended for the move.
Even if it does not work out, and on the grand scheme of things, most 18 year old footballers will not make it at the club they currently play for, he will get a great life experience out of it.
If he does not make the grade, and ends up at 22 returning to England to play in the lower leagues, he will be able to talk about his time in Barcelona. Playing in Spain. Next to him will be someone like Chuba Akpom, who had the opportunity but stayed put. He can talk about Brentford, Coventry, Hull and Nottingham. It does not compare does it?
McGuane is not the only English teenager who decided to make a permanent move abroad, rather then end up making countless loan moves to Belgium and Holland.
Kaylen Hinds joined VfL Wolfsburg last summer. They have now loaned him to Greuther Fürth in the German second division.
It would have been easy for him to stay at Arsenal and be loaned to Brentford, but he made the decision to go to Germany.
Also last summer Arsenal lost Chris Willock. He signed a 5 year deal with Benfica in Portugal and has been a regular for their B team.
Whilst, like McGuane and Hinds he has not yet made a breakthrough, playing abroad will be better for him than being loaned to St Johnstone – where his older brother is currently loaned at from Manchester United.
And it is not just Arsenal youngsters who are making the move abroad.
Manchester City’s highly rated youngster Jadon Sancho decided to reject a new contract last summer and joined Borussia Dortmund for £8 million. At the time, Arsenal were also interested in him.
At 17, he has made the biggest breakthrough of 4 mentioned in this blog, having actually played 6 first team games for Dortmund in the Bundesliga, including 3 starts.
Sancho must be congratulated for his bravery. When you look at other youngsters at Manchester City, signing big deals and not getting any game time, he took the risk and pushed for a move to Germany, and it is now paying dividends.
More youngsters need to look at Willock, Hinds, McGuane and Sancho and shun the British academies at 18. Rather than sign a new deal with your English club, to spend 4 years being loaned around the hell holes of the country, pack your bags and go abroad.
It will make them better players in the long run and, worse case scenario, if it does not work out, they have a fantastic experience behind them.
And eventually, if enough do it, the English national team will improve.
England players lack culture. Lack different footballing skills learned having played in different countries.
Not just at youth level, but at senior level English players do not move abroad. They would rather play for Stoke earning £60,000 a week, then go and join Celta Vigo, Bordeaux or Genoa.
If more English players, especially youngster, move abroad, the English team will improve. They would have had a different education, learnt new skills, and be a more rounded footballer.
Whilst none of Willock, Hinds, McGuane or Sancho can yet be labelled as a roaring success, all 4 should be congratulated for being brave and making that move.
Well done lads. I hope you make your breakthrough and show up the youngsters who would rather stay in England, becoming millionaires whilst on loan to lower league English sides.