The Binks transfer, as welcome as it’s unusual, is possibly the mark of things to come in MLS, as young, developing, English talent finds it harder and harder to break into the first-teams in their country’s Premier League.
With some major, cash-rich clubs, all with burgeoning academies, preferring to source already-established, top players from the market, Binks represents the latest in a lengthy line of young English starlets (think Jaden Sancho who left Manchester City for Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga) who’ve gone abroad, successfully, from Premier League clubs. He is however the first one we’ve seen come to MLS under circumstances where his English club remained keen to retain his services.
Whether or not the Binks move becomes the catalyst and reverses the perception of European-based players coming to MLS for a last pay-day remains to be seen, but it’s a reasonable observation and makes perfect sense.
What might be less logical is the not insignificant investment which English clubs ply into their youth systems, since opportunities for young player progression are so limited.
We’ve not properly seen Binks in Montreal yet, but if reports are to be believed this looks like a smart move on the part of the club. Hopefully it will be for the player too.
A word of caution for Montreal fans also. The academy set-up and how football in England now works for the Premier League’s reserve teams is not universally popular. Young players come through the academies and play at the various age levels until they hit u23. Many pros and former pro’s have criticized the system, some labelling it ‘fake football’ and describe how young players no longer get enough opportunity to play competitively against men, or more experienced professionals.
The argument from this lobby is that young players are not prepared physically or mentally, when the time comes for them to be making their breakthrough to the first-team.
Not saying MLS is EPL, but I expect many of us in Montreal will have an opinion on this in the coming weeks.
Should Binks, part of the Tottenham u23 set-up at the tender age of 18, and a current England u19 international, shine in Quebec, it wouldn’t be the biggest surprise in the world if he’s blazing a trail for more young Englishmen to follow suit.
The irony is not lost either, with Tottenham losing a top prospect to the club of their former arch-nemesis, Thierry Henry, although I’m sure that wasn’t part of anyone’s motivation.
Luis Binks will occupy an international roster slot and join the club upon receiving his international transfer certificate and passing his medical.