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Top flight academies

They don’t really seem to work as well as they should. Not for the money they cost anyway.

The idea is brilliantly simple; find some talented youngsters either at home or abroad, provide them with a top quality footballing education, watch them progress through the ranks and in a few years time you inherit a gifted young footballer without any grotesque transfer fee involved.

Well that’s the idea anyway.

So why is it unsurprising to see Liverpool apparently poised to sign Blackpool winger Tom Ince, the very same Tom Ince who quit their academy only one year previously?

Admittedly Tom (son of Paul) has improved substantially since leaving Merseyside for Blackpool and has developed into one of the most exciting players in the Championship.

A regular for the England U21’s Ince has blossomed since his arrival at Bloomfield Rd, something many clubs in the Premier League are aware of.

Ince decided to leave Liverpool after apparently growing frustrated by the lack of first team opportunities at Anfield but surely if the coaching staff rated him that highly they would have never have allowed him to leave in the first place?

They now find themselves in the position of having to battle against other clubs, to sign a player they let go on a free only a year earlier. Incredible.

Despite this lunacy Liverpool probably looks like quite an attractive proposition for Ince. The arrival of Brendan Rodgers, a man not afraid to play youngsters has heralded the emergence of Raheem Sterling, Suso and Andre Wisdom to name but three talented youngsters to make an appearance this season.

If the main factor in his departure was indeed the lack of playing time then perhaps this time around would be different for Ince, and he would be given a fair crack of the whip.

But that brings me back to the academies.

It might just be me but how many teams in the Premier League are utilising the players developed in their academies? Look at your own team, I bet it’s not more than a two or three.

And for me that is a real shame, there is nothing better than watching a truly home grown player play for your team. You feel as if they have a true affinity to the club, like they are one of your own.

The argument about the influx of foreign players having a negative impact on young British players is one that I think cannot be ignored. There is less opportunity for them simply because there is much more competition for places.

In my opinion we are producing far less British footballers in our academies, but the ones who do make it are of a good quality, look at Jack Wilshere as an example.

And although Tom Ince has had to do things the slightly unconventional way, perhaps he will soon be featuring in the top flight. Albeit for a team he once chose to leave.

Robert Lock