When Bayern Munich’s Jamal Musiala opted to play for Germany instead of England, the decision sent some shockwaves across both countries.
For Musiala, it no doubt helped that he was currently playing for Bayern Munich, but it was also not that long ago where the 18-year-old was working in Chelsea’s youth system. Valencia’s Yunus Musah recently committed to the United States over England, as well, which meant England lost yet another good, young talent.
While neither player is necessarily needed for England’s senior team right now, the youngsters could have been building blocks for the future. For Three Lions manager Gareth Southgate, Musiala’s decision is something that England needs to examine and prevent from happening next time.
“It’s definitely a situation that we’re going to encounter more and more as we move forward and it’s very complicated,” Southgate said in a lengthy interview with The Independent. “I think there are discussions around what’s the player pathway and there is a different decision for players around what their heart says. And I think these two boys seem to have gone with their country of birth. I’m not going to say, you know, we’re not worried by that because we think they can both be very good players in the future and at their age you just don’t know what they might become.”
Southgate indicated that he thought Musiala’s club situation played a role in his decision-making.
“Germany have obviously been able to speak to Jamal and he’s training there every day, and he’s at Bayern Munich, and of course he explained his decision and, you know, we’ve got to wish him good luck and hope he has a successful career,” said Southgate. “But at the same time we’ve got to make sure of a couple of things, really. One is that the experience when the boys are with us is so good that they don’t want to move and that we’re never arrogant in thinking that players will just want to play for England. We know that that landscape is very different now to what it would have been five years ago and there will be more and more of these cases. We’ve got to be on top of the eligibility issues.”
In the end, Southgate knows that if England wants to secure its top talents, it will likely have to be more attentive to them at younger age.
“We’ve benefited from some guys who’ve transferred across and thankfully pretty much all of those players have gone on to play for the seniors, so it’s not that we’ve promised something that eventually we’ve not been able to fulfil,” Southgate said. “But we’re very conscious that we want to get that balance right. We don’t want to just go and cap people so that they can’t go and play somewhere else. We think there’s a moral and an ethical duty to get those decisions right as well.”