English Players who made a Top-Flight Debut outside the Premier League

Mason Mount in Man United Home kit

A few current Englishmen surprisingly made their top-flight debut abroad instead of in the Premier League.

The Premier League has been well-known for its top level of competitiveness. Players must have the top quality just to survive in EPL clubs, let alone in the top teams. Young English players have been the ‘victim’ of such competition. They have to be ready to spend one year or two abroad to get regular playing time or even minutes with experience of playing in other leagues.

Some of them have succeeded and returned to their parent clubs with better skills and mentality, which comes in handy in the actual Premier League games. Some others, unfortunately, have to lose their spot in the parent club and even are forced to compete in the lower league or tier. Here are some of the most notable English players who strangely made a top-flight debut abroad.

Noni Madueke

The current Chelsea man did not make his senior debut in the top-flight league with any English club. He did it with the Eredivisie giant, PSV Eindhoven, instead. Madueke moved to the Netherlands from the Tottenham Hotspur youth team in 2019. His time in Eindhoven did not start well, as he only made four appearances in 2018–19. It was the game versus VVV Venlo, where PSV only mustered a 1-1 draw on the road. 

He stayed with PSV till 2023 after winning the Dutch Cup and Dutch Super Cup before he opted to switch sides to Chelsea. Madueke slowly but steadily managed to get a nod in the starting XI regularly. The winger eventually netted eight times and provided three assists last season. Such is a fine start for the 22-year-old winger on the elite side. 

Mason Mount

The England international is the next to make a top-flight debut, not in the Premier League. Mason Mount has been part of Chelsea since 2017. Yet, he was loaned out to Eredivisie’s Vitesse Arnhem in the 2017/18 campaign. 

Mount did not have a positive debut as his team suffered a 2-1 loss to AZ Alkmaar. Yet he proved his quality by making an immediate impact there. The current Manchester United man featured in 40 games in the 2017/18 season, contributing 14 goals and 10 assists in all competitions, including some games in the Europa League. 

Mount has won almost every prestigious title so far, such as the UEFA Champions League, UEFA Super Cup, and FIFA Club World Cup in 2021 for the Blues, and recently lifted the FA Cup trophy with the Red Devils. The 25-year-old winger has been capped 36 times but only bagged five goals in international fixtures. 

Ben Brereton Diaz

The Chilean international is an English-born forward who did not know his South American roots until he played a famous virtual management game, Football Manager. Ben Brereton Diaz made his senior debut for the Championship side, Nottingham Forest. The Tricky Trees were still struggling to even finish in the top half of the table. 

The 25-year-old striker only managed to register nine goals and seven assists for them, which was not nearly good enough to boost their position on the table. Let alone the demand for Nottingham Forest tickets in the 2017/18 season. He was then loaned out to Blackburn Rovers in the second half of the following campaign. That was when he rose to prominence. 

When his contract expired in the summer of 2023, he joined La Liga side Villareal. Unfortunately, the forward with 30 international caps could not make the difference in the final third, despite being fielded 14 times in the Spanish top flight. Ben Diaz was then sent on loan to Sheffield United, where he managed to perform better. He contributed six goals and one assist in 14 matches. Sadly, this could not prevent their relegation.

Ben Diaz eventually opted to switch sides to Chile in 2021. He was already included in the Copa America 2021 and 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers. However, he has not cut Chile’s current squad under the new boss, Ricardo Gareca, despite already scoring seven goals and three assists, due to his lack of Spanish language skills. 

Jadon Sancho

The former Manchester City youth team has been in the headlines lately due to his prospective move in the current transfer window. Sancho is unlikely to continue his spell at Dortmund since Manchester United priced him out. 

Sancho made his top-flight debut in the Bundesliga after he opted to move to Borussia Dortmund in 2017. He made his senior debut in the 2017/18 campaign against Frankfurt, which ended in a 2-2 draw. The winger went on to make 11 more appearances, scoring one goal and four assists in his season debut.

In 2021, the England international, with 23 caps, signed for Manchester United. Unfortunately, things did not work out in 2023/24 due to his disagreement with his boss, Erik Ten Hag, leading to his loan to Dortmund. Sancho is currently rumoured to be on the move to Italian giant Juventus this summer, as the talks are already in progress. 

Jude Bellingham

He is currently the most famous Englishman after his huge success in the first season with Real Madrid in 2023/24 by winning double La Liga and the Champions League. He is even tipped to win the Ballon d’Or award this year. Nevertheless, he has yet to play in the Premier League up to now.

The 20-year-old versatile midfielder last competed on his home soil when he was still in Birmingham City back in the 2019/20 season. They were in the second tier of the English football system. He then joined Borussia Dortmund in the following season and made his senior debut in their first game versus Borussia M’Gladbach. Mats Hummels and Co. trashed the visitors 3-0 on their home turf. 

Bellingham then went on to play 46 games during that campaign with four goals and assists each in his season debut at the top flight. He helped them clinch the DFB Pokal in 2021, played alongside Erling Haaland, and was even awarded Bundesliga Player of the Season in 2023 before plying his trade to Los Blancos last summer.

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