March 30, 2017 / 2:32 PM / 4 months ago

INTERVIEW-Soccer-High wages stop English players venturing abroad, says Woodcock

4 Min Read

LONDON, March 30 (Reuters) - Young English players are pricing themselves out of career-enhancing moves to European clubs, with damaging knock-on effects for the national team, former England striker Tony Woodcock says.

Assessing the chasm that exists between England and world champions Germany when it comes to results at major tournaments, Woodcock said more young English players should play abroad rather than settle for fat salaries and reserve team football with Premier League clubs.

"I was with the Borussia Dortmund guys last week and they say the problem is that they would probably want to take some young English players who are not getting a kick in the Premier League," Woodcock told Reuters by telephone.

"The problem is they are earning so much in the Premier League that clubs in Europe are not prepared to pay that.

"You are stifling your own career because you want the fancy car and huge salary."

According to the latest edition of the Global Sports Salaries Survey, the average Premier League wage is just over $3.2 million per year, way ahead of the Bundesliga average of around $1.4 million.

Woodcock's comments come after England manager Gareth Southgate called for the English game to shed its "island mentality" if it is to catch up with Germany at club and international level.

But Woodcock, who played for Bundesliga side Cologne after winning the English title and European Cup with Nottingham Forest in the late 70s, said there is a long way to go.

While the likes of Tottenham Hotspur's Dele Alli and Manchester City's John Stones are being lauded as the future of English football, Woodcock said that Germany set the standard when it comes to developing international class players.

"The statistics show Germany are miles ahead," Woodcock, who won 42 England caps and also scored 56 goals for Arsenal in a four-year spell, said. "It's a conveyor belt of talent in Germany and I don't see that happening in England.

"You have young English lads earning far more money than their German counterparts but they are not improving. They should take less go to Europe and show how good they are.

"Youngsters in England earn three or four times more than they would do in Germany. But in Germany they play every week."

"Forest sold Oliver Burke to RB Leipzig and while it was a shame for my old club it will do him good," added Woodcock.

Foreign Signings

With his son-in-law Mike Brown part of the England rugby team that won 18 matches in a row recently -- Woodcock says football could learn from the oval-ball game.

"The RFU is focussed on a strong international team," he said. "(England coach) Eddie Jones has built a situation where there are two or three players pushing each other for one position.

"That's what the English football team needs."

Woodcock said the power of the Premier League does not help England's cause -- with the continued preference for foreign signings meaning only 31 percent of players who started matches in the top flight last season were English -- a record low.

In Germany the figure is around 50 percent.

"The Premier League is hyped as the best in the world, it's good don't get me wrong, but you have to look at the percentage of foreign players in England and Germany," he said.

"You would think the FA would be looking at the German model and thinking what are they doing?

"The difference is in Germany there is just one body, the DFB. They obviously want a successful international team because when that happens it lifts the whole country." (Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Toby Davis)

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