Gareth Southgate says Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe have been a ‘breath of fresh air’ for Arsenal as England boss rejoices to see more young people in the country have a chance in the Premier League

Gareth Southgate called Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe a ‘breath of fresh air’ for Arsenal.

The England boss has verified the name of the young Gunners as he expresses his joy at the increased opportunities offered to local players.

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Saka and Smith Rowe have become regular starters for Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal this season

Saka has become one of Arsenal’s most important players with six goals and five assists in 2020/21.

Smith Rowe, meanwhile, has been a revelation after making his first-team breakthrough this season after a successful loan spell at Championship club Huddersfield.

Southgate joined talkSPORT’s Sports Breakfast for an exclusive hour-long interview on Tuesday and expressed joy at the array of young English talent thriving in the Premier League.

Phil Foden, Reece James, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Curtis Jones and Tariq Lamptey are among a host of other promising domestic players who have impressed in the top flight this season.

“About eighteen months ago, every Saturday we were around 30 percent of the league, English qualified players,” Southgate said.

“This year it’s up to 40% and that doesn’t sound like a lot, but when you think of people like maybe an Emile Smith Rowe getting his chance at Arsenal, we know those kids are there, we know the talent is there.

“But of course, when the buying and spending power of clubs is greater than anything in Europe and the pressure is on for immediate success, it is much easier and faster to go and buy a finished product. abroad, which has a handful. a few seasons behind them.

“So there has always been this blockage for young English players entering. Now they have their chance and show up [what they can do].

“The Arsenal boys for example, Saka and Smith Rowe, have been a huge breath of fresh air in their squad. There are more across the country if they get the chance. “

Foden is one of the many young English players playing in the Premier League

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Foden is one of the many young English players playing in the Premier League

Jack Grealish has impressed for Aston Villa this season and hopes to play for Euros

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Jack Grealish has impressed for Aston Villa this season and hopes to play for Euros

Southgate will have a hard time picking their squad for this summer’s European Championship, especially in the attacking areas.

Foden, Jack Grealish, James Maddison and Mason Mount are among the players pushing for an attacking midfield sport.

Southgate admits he faces a ‘big decision’ but is excited about the options available to him and believes fitness will play a major role in his appeals.

“When you have the choice between exceptional talent, of course you have to make big decisions,” he added. But at the end of the day, you know, some of these decisions unfortunately escape you.

“I mean, if I look at the March squad, we’re already without Joe Gomez, Jordan Henderson, Harvey Barnes. James Justin, who in our opinion is doing exceptionally well at Leicester, will be absent.

“So, you know, how many of these guys (are available)?” There are others who are not playing at the moment.

“And then, in fact, it’s just a question of ‘well, who plays the best’. Who do we think has the pedigree, who has played at a high level before and who is in shape, who fits the way we want to play with and without the ball?

“So yes of course there is a lot of talent in these attacking areas but what is really exciting is that for years we have been talking about the development of English football and where the creative players are, how develop these types of players.

“We’ve had background and branch reviews of everything from grassroots football to academia football to everything for decades and we have them now.

“I think the merit of the clubs is enormous, but also of junior football. When I go to watch the junior football being played in the local parks, we can see the style that the kids are playing, the skill level.

“You step into the inner city cages and see the talent. There is raw talent and there is a different type of player, a different level of skill which is extremely exciting.


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