Albert Puig On the Controversial Topic – Euro Dreamin’
Albert Puig is a former FC Barcelona Youth Technical Director and now the Assistant Coach of New York City FC. A globally respected leader in player development, Puig’s famed La Masia developed the likes of Andres Iniesta, Gerard Pique, and Lionel Messi. Puig is the founder of APFC Courses – a program to help educate soccer coaches.
Youth Soccer News: Like the lyrics in the famous song sung by Vanessa Williams Dreamin’, the lyrics I’ll be dreamin’ can apply to many youth soccer players wanting to train in Europe. The question is, are these youth soccer players right?
Is the training better for player development in Europe or is it better to stay with an elite club in the USA?
It’s no secret that nowadays Europe is the best place for young players to increase their level and increase their chances of playing at a professional level.
Related Soccer News: ALBERT PUIG ON DEVELOPING BETTER YOUTH SOCCER COACHES
This is obviously tied to that player being exposed to the adequate methodology before the age of 15-16, where said player now grasps the universal concepts and understands soccer as a language, as well as being exposed to countless hours of play time with the ball.
I’m not saying that this cannot happen in America.
In any case, the USA is a place where there is less pressure placed on the players during a game which allows them to use their imagination and creativity without the fear of failing.
Sadly, in many other parts of the world, the importance of winning overshadows the development and formation of players.
To make mistakes in the USA is permitted and understood as the evolution and progression of the young players.
This last part, combined with a well-structured methodology are key in the development of any young soccer player.
The US can very easily develop good players as long as they are exposed and practice the universal concepts, understand soccer as a language and constantly plays with the ball.
It is when a player reaches 15-16 years of age that I see a problem at a competitive level.
In order for any player to reach their full potential, they need a highly competitive level.
This is what the USA is currently lacking since the competitiveness at academy level (U.S. Soccer Development Academy commonly referred to as the DA) is below that of Europe.
There is also a regulatory brick wall.
FIFA states that players must play in their home country until the age of 18. There are some exceptions to the rule, such as players with an EU passport are allowed to play in any EU member country when they reach 16 years of age but the chances for a US player to go to Europe before 18 is very difficult. Few have the passport needed.
I will say this again, the US has very good academies, however, it lacks a highly competitive level.
Without this level of competition, the development of a player will most likely plateau.
After all, we’ve talked about, an ideal situation would be that when players turn 16 they go to Europe to adapt to the game over there and see their evolution.
Again, ideal situation…
We see that competitive downslope in players between ages 16 and 18 specifically in places where soccer is not as important a sport.
Perhaps an option could be that 16-year-old players play in the MLS, however, an issue with that would be them opting out of a scholarship and a college education.
Let’s keep in mind that the chances of anyone becoming a pro are slim and opting to chase that dream versus a scholarship and education is very risky.
Therein lies the conundrum.
How the US, as a whole, finds a solution will be very tricky and difficult but when it does, it will be reflected on the rise of very interesting players at the club and national team levels.
Related Articles: PROS AND CONS BETWEEN YOUTH SOCCER IN THE USA AND EUROPE