By Eben Kofi Eshun
After weeks of debate on English talents coming through the academies, Black Stars midfielder Michael Essien has made known his view on the matter.
The midfielder doesn’t agree with the notion that the import of foreign players is to blame for the decline in the number of English talents coming through various academies.
In his October blog on Chelsea’s official website, Essien said: "First of all I think it doesn’t matter how many ‘foreign players’ are in the Premier League, because the best and natural talents will always come through. The cream always rises to the top, as they say, so it’s all about spotting the true talents and nurturing them. The facilities are superb in England so the good ones will benefit from it.
"A few examples spring to mind like our own captain John Terry who had to contend with top players at Chelsea when he was young but still managed to come through. Jack Wilshire at Arsenal is a superb player who will go all the way to the top without doubt and more recently Ross Barkley at Everton is also getting rave reviews.
"It doesn’t matter how many foreign players are at Chelsea, Arsenal and Everton, John, Jack and Ross have all made it through to the top which has and will continue to be good for the national team. It’s all about natural talent, ability and working on them."
Having played at the top for more than a decade, Essien also had a word of advice for the youngsters across Europe. He said: "Looking back to when I was a youngster coming through, I was on the road from the ages of 16–17 trialing at European clubs. I had two trials with Sir Alex at Manchester United when I was a kid before settling at Bastia. Hard work ensured I developed the skills I had and I was always looking to improve.
“Having played across Europe at a young age, I do believe this helped my development. This is why I think competitions such as last year’s NextGen and the recently launched UEFA Youth League are great for the experience of young players.
“I was never a natural talent like Messi or Maradona, but I never had any doubt in my ability, and I knew that to get into a top side, I’d have to ensure I was good enough to compete with top players.