Few would’ve predicted at the start of the transfer window that David Luiz would end up back at Chelsea, Jack Wilshire would be on a season-long loan at Bournemouth, and that England’s number one, frozen out by new boss Pep Guardiola at Manchester City, would find himself in Italy at Serie A side Torino, but that’s football, it’s unpredicatble, unforgiving, and at times downright bizzare. Now the dust has settled and the domestic season is back underway this weekend, we can have a look at some of our other British players who will be joining Hart in tackling the difficult challenge of playing abroad. Many have tried it in the past, but very few have been successful. Ask Michael Owen, Ian Rush, Dale Jennings or Jonathan Woodgate at how tough and relentness it can be. Looking to break the mould here’s a list of 12 players to look out for over the coming season:
Joe Hart: Torino (Serie A, Italy) – on loan from Manchester City
Born: April 19, 1987 (age 29), Shrewsbury, England
One of the more intriguing stories of the transfer window saw Joe Hart sign with Italian side Torino on a season-long loan. In truth, Hart had been out of form for a while, dropped by Pellegrini a few times last season becasue of poor performances, and with a hugely dissapointing Euros for England this summer, which saw him make two high profile mistakes, the writing was somewhat on the wall. Still, it came as a surprise, Hart is a popular player with the Manchester City faithful and it’s an extremely bold decision by Guardiola, but as he has shown in the past he’s not afraid to make them. This could be the wake up call that Hart needed, and it’ll be interesting to see how he adapts to Italian life and the Serie A, it goes wiithout saying, but this is a crucial season for him.
Oliver Burke: RB Leipzig (Bundesliga, Germany)
Born: April 7, 1997 (age 19), Kirkcaldy, Scotland
Impressed so far in the Championship with Nottingham Forest and signed for Bundesliga new boys RB Leipzig for £13 million. Bit of a surprise move for the 19 year old who had been starting on a regular basis for Forest and had attracted interest from a host of Premier League sides, but a very exciting one too. He has been dubbed as the ‘Scottish Bale’ because of his imposing physical stature, and direct and powerful dribbling skills from the right wing. Very interesting season to keep tabs on.
Andre Wisdom: Red Bull Salzburg (Bundesliga, Austria) – on loan from Liverpool
Born: May 9, 1993 (age 23), Leeds, England
Found it difficult to break into the first team at Liverpool and will be out on-loan for the fourth consecutive season, having had spells with Derby, West Brom and Norwich. Recently signed a new long-term contract at Liverpool and stated that his future was “at Liverpool because that is my dream and that is what I want to achieve”. He’ll have to impress this season if he has any any chance of making that dream a reality, with Austrian side Red Bull Salzburg providing the platform for the young right back.
Ryan Gauld: Vitoria de Setubal (Primeira Liga, Portugal) – on loan from Sporting Lisbon
Born: December 16, 1995 (age 20), Aberdeen, Scotland
It’s been a tough few seasons for Ryan Gauld who has struggled to make an impact at Portuguese side Sporting Lisbon. Back in 2014 he was signed for £3 million from Dundee United, with Lisbon putting a whopping £48 million release clause in the youngsters contract. However, the Scotsman has found himself languishing in the B-team and has admitted that his career with the club has stalled. Despite being put in the first team sqaud for this season his demand for first team football has seen him sent out on loan to fellow Primeira Liga side Vitoria de Setubal. Hopefully the attacking midfielder can rekindle his career and return to the dazzling form he showed at Dundee, which earnt him the knickname ‘mini-Messi’.
Joleon Lescott: AEK Athens (Superleague, Greece)
Born: August 16, 1982 (age 34), Birmingham, England
One of the more bizzare signings of the summer transfer window saw 34 year old Joleon Lescott secure a two year deal at Greek club AEK Athens. The central defender had fallen out of favour at Aston Villa with new boss Roberto Di Matteo making it clear that he wasn’t part of his plans. Lescott made 31 appearances last season as Villa finished bottom of the Premier League with just 17 points. He’ll be looking for a change of fortune this season, as AEK Athens look to wrestle the title away from rivals Olympiacos.
Simon Church: Roda JC (Eredivisie, Holland)
Born: December 10, 1988 (age 27), Amersham, Wales
Former Reading, Charlton and MK Dons striker Simon Church has made the switch to the Dutch Eredivisie, signing for Roda JC. The Welshman netted 6 goals in 13 appearances whilst on-loan at Aberdeen last season and has put pen to paper on a one year contract.
Shay Facey: SC Heerenveen (Eredivisie, Holland) – on loan from Manchester City
Born: January 9, 1995 (age 21), Manchester, England
Spent the first half of last season on-loan at City’s sister club New York City FC in the MLS, and then on-loan to Rotherham in the Championship for the last half. Very highly rated at Manchester City and can play at both right back and center back. Interesting to see what role he’ll play at SC Heereveen, who will be looking to improve on their 12th placed finish last year.
John Bostock: RC Lens (Ligue 2, France)
Born: January 15, 1992 (age 24), Camberwell, England
John Bostock continues to make his comeback in football with French Ligue 2 outfit RC Lens. The central midfielder, now 24, impressed last season with Belgian side OH Leuven, scoring 7 goals in 24 apperances. After signing on a free transfer this summer, he’ll look to play an influential role in RC Lens fight to get back into Ligue 1, after being relegated last season due to financial problems. Another chapter in what is becoming an inspirational story for any youngster who fails to make it at the top. Good luck John!
Lewis Baker: Vitesse Arnhem (Eredivisie, Holland) – on loan from Chelsea
Born: April 25, 1995 (age 21), Luton, England
Scored five goals – including the club’s goal of the season – in 34 appearances for Vitesse last season and has decided to spend a second year out on loan at the Eredivisie side. The 21 year old central midfielder has benefited from playing week in week out in one of Europe’s top leagues, and impressed this summer as England won the Toulon tournament, scoring in the final against France. You would expect that Baker will be looking for a permanent move somewhere soon, as first team football at his parent club Chelsea looks increasingly unlikely. Another solid season and clubs will be lining up to secure his signature.
Gareth Bale: Real Madrid (La Liga, Spain)
Born: July 16, 1989 (age 27), Cardiff, Wales
After an impressive start to the new season, which saw him net a brace against Real Sociedad in the opening game, many now believe that this season could see Bale break the dominance of Ronaldo and Messi. AS, a popular Spanish newspaper, had the headline ‘La Liga de Bale’ (Gareth Bales league), and in the absence of Ronaldo through injury he has certainly made an early claim for the Los Blancos throne. Zidane has already admitted that this ‘is an important season’ for Bale, and it’ll be interesting to see if the Welshman can live up to expectatiions and guide the club back to La Liga success.
Tafari Moore: Utrecht (Eredivisie, Holland) – on loan from Arsenal
Born: July 5, 1997 (age 19), London, England
Recently joined up with the England senior squad as cover for Luke Shaw and is an extremely exciting prospect. The 19 year old right back will spend the season on loan at Dutch side Utrecht, as he makes the tough transition from youth to senior football. He’s expected to be used as more of a squad player for the Eredivisie outfit, playing for the reserves in the Eerste Divisie (second tier) on more of a regular basis. He needs to toughen up physically and this is an important season in his development.
Ravel Morrison: Lazio (Serie A, Italy)
Born: February 2, 1993 (age 23), Wythenshawe, England
It looks like it could be another frustrating season for Ravel Morison in Italy with Serie A club Lazio. After impressing in pre-season, which saw him score a superb volley against Brighton, he has once again been left in the shadows of the reserves. Reports suggest that he has had a falling out with manager Stefano Pioli, who earlier this year criticised Morrison for his apllication in training. He’s only made three appearances for the Serie A side since joining in 2015.
First published: September 8, 2016