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Ones to Watch

7 dual-national English abroad wonderkids

Earlier this year when 17-year-old Giovanni Reyna broke into the Borussia Dortmund first team there was a lot of talk about their front three all having been born in England – Reyna, Erling Braut Håland and Jadon Sancho.

Of course Sancho is already a senior international and Håland is tied to Norway but Reyna could still switch allegiances from his father’s homeland of the United States and pull on a Three Lions shirt.

Reyna is not the only dual-national star coming up through the ranks. In this article, I look at seven more wonderkids who have a choice on their international future.

For the youth caps listed below, I have only listed the oldest age group the player has played for each nation.

Bradley Cross

Bradley Cross // Age: 19 // Position: Centre back //Club: Schalke // Youth caps: South Africa U20

Cross is a player who received media attention last month. A quick search of his name brings up several tabloid articles reporting that Premier League clubs have been keeping tabs on the centre-back. The reports have many conflicting statements. Here’s what we do know.

The 19-year-old was born in South Africa but holds a UK passport. He represented Black Aces at youth level before joining fellow domestic side Bidvest Wits. In 2018, he joined German side Schalke 04. Sources here are conflicted. Transfermarkt said this was a permanent deal with Cross signing a two-year contract. Recent press reports have stated that it was actually a two-year loan deal and the defender is now due to return to Bidvest unless Schalke activate their option to buy.

Whatever his contract situation, he has been a real asset for Schalke’s youth side this season. Last season as he adjusted to life in Europe, he started in eight times in the U19 Bundesliga. This season he has started all but two league games, making 18 appearances.

At 6 foot, Cross is at the perfect height to be both athletic and physical at the heart of the defence. He is well disciplined with only two yellow cards in 33 appearances for Schalke U19. A highlight from this season must be the way he handled one of the brightest talents in world football. 15-year-old striker Youssoufa Moukoko has scored 84 goals in the past two seasons at youth level for Borussia Dortmund but back in October, he failed to score past Cross as Schalke cruised to a 4-0 win, a game which also saw Giovanni Reyna fail to score.

Bradley Fink

Bradley Fink // Age: 16 // Position: Striker // Club: Borussia Dortmund // Youth caps: Switzerland U17

Speaking of Reyna, someone who signed for Dortmund at the same time last summer was Bradley Fink. The young forward moved to Germany from Luzern in Switzerland.

Still a week off his 17th birthday, the striker has made a big impact for Dortmund’s U17s this season, so much so that in this BBC article it is reported that the FA are tracking his progress. He qualifies for England through an English mother.

The Swiss youth international has had a big part to play in Dortmund currently sitting second in the U17 Bundesliga. He’s scored 12 goals in 18 games and also chipped in with four assists, making him the third top scorer in his league. Despite his age, he has also made his U19 debut in the UEFA Youth League against Barcelona.

It could be difficult for the FA to tempt him away from Switzerland he is one of their youth team stars. He has seven goals in seven games for their under-17s.

Noah Ohio

Noah Ohio // Age: 17 // Position: Striker // Club: RB Leipzig // Youth caps: England U16 & Netherlands U16

Unlike the first two entries in this post, Ohio has actually played in England and played for England at youth level, although where his international future lies is still undecided.

From Holland, Ohio was part of the Almere City academy before joining Manchester United at the age of 12 in 2015. The following year he joined rivals Manchester City, remaining at the club for four years. It was during his time with City that he made six appearances for England U16s, playing alongside the likes of Barcelona’s Louie Barry (now at Aston Villa) and Birmingham sensation Jude Bellingham.

In the summer of 2019, Ohio turned down a new deal with City to move to the Bundesliga to join RB Leipzig on a three-year deal, perhaps being tempted by a clearer route to first team football.

Playing in the U17 Bundesliga, he’s scored an impressive 10 goals in 13 matches for Leipzig’s youngsters, a marked improvement on his one goal in seven games for City’s U18s last season.

Disappointingly for England fans, Ohio has since returned to playing for the Netherlands and represented them at U16 level last year.

Charlie Setford

Charlie Setford // Age: 15 // Position: Goalkeeper // Club: Ajax // Youth caps: England U16 & Netherlands U16

Another Dutch-English dual-national, Setford is the youngest on this list. It’s fair to say the 15-year-old is at one the best places to learn his trade, having been part of the famed Ajax academy since the age of 7.

This season, Setford has played twice for Ajax in the U17 Eredivisie whilst being on the bench on several more occasions.

Having played for the Netherlands and England at under-16 level in 2019, the goalkeeper appears to have chosen the Three Lions for now and made two appearances for the U16s in a tournament in February earlier this year, keeping one clean sheet.

His younger brother Tommy, 14, is also a ‘keeper on Ajax’s books.

Mohamed Ali-Cho (right)

Mohamed-Ali Cho // Age: 16 // Position: Winger // Club: Angers // Youth caps: England U16

Lining up alongside Setford for a game for England U16s last year was Mohamed-Ali Cho. The 16-year-old played the full match as his side beat Denmark 2-0.

At the time, the winger was on Everton’s books, having joined the Toffees at the age of 11 from PSG in the summer of 2015. At the start of this year though, after nearly five years with the Premier League side, he returned to his country of birth to join Ligue 1 side Angers.

So far he has only represented England at youth level but last month he was called up to the France U16 squad, although those matches never took place, it seems.

Bright Arrey-Mbi

Bright Arrey-Mbi // Age: 17 // Position: Centre back // Club: Bayern Munich // Youth caps: England U15 & Germany U17

One of two players Bayern Munich recruited from English football in the summer of 2019, Arrey-Mbi has settled in very well with the German giants.

Born in Germany, the defender played for his local side before moving to England and joining Norwich City as an 11-year-old. His potential was quickly spotted by Chelsea and he joined a few months later in September 2014.

He made his debut for Chelsea U18s in May 2018 but the following season he would spend the majority of his time out on trial. Remarkably in the 2018/19 season, he played for three different sides in the U18 Premier League, Leicester City, West Ham United and Wolves.

After a season of uncertainty, the defender secured a move to Bayern in July 2019 and hasn’t looked back. He’s been a regular for the U19 side at the heart of their defence, playing 24 games in all competitions, even chipping in with three goals.

Such is the progress he’s made with the Bavarian club that he even made his first team debut in a friendly in January, coming on at half time for David Alaba in a defeat against Nürnberg.

Whilst he was at Chelsea, the 17-year-old played for England and Germany at youth level but he has been loyal to his country of birth ever since with his last appearance for his adopted nation coming more than two years ago.

Jamal Musiala

Jamal Musiala // Age: 17 // Position: Attacking midfield // Club: Bayern Munich // Youth caps: England U17 & Germany U16

The other recruit for Bayern Munich was Jamal Musiala who also came from Chelsea. The attacking midfielder has a similar story to Arrey-Mbi, having been born in Germany and moving to England at a young age, in his case Musiala was 7 when he moved across and joined the youth setup of Southampton. A year later he joined Chelsea where he would remain for eight years.

Musiala would make three appearances in total for Chelsea in the U18 Premier League before leaving in the summer of 2019. Unlike Arrey-Mbi though, he was not put straight into the Bayern U19s, instead he started with the U17s. It didn’t take long for him to progress though, as after six goals in 12 games, he was promoted to the older age group at the start of this year and has since played six times.

His prospects of playing for England seem a whole light bright. He has played for the Young Lions at U15, U16 and U17 level and apart from a brief departure to play for Germany U16s in October 2018, he has remained loyal to England. His most recent appearances for England U17s came in February this year and he even captained the side in one the games.

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