Gareth Southgate is confident that his England squad will be fully focused on Euro 2020 despite transfer rumours involving some of his key men expected to be whirling around. Harry Kane and Jadon Sancho are just two of the big names that could be on the move come the end of the season.
Kane was the top goalscorer at the 2018 World Cup but he is expected to tell Tottenham he wants to leave if they fail to qualify for the Champions League.
Manchester United, Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain have all been linked with the 27-year-old.
Winger Jadon Sancho could also leave Borussia Dortmund after impressing since moving to the Bundesliga from City.
United attempted to sign the 21-year-old last summer but refused to pay Dortmund’s £108million asking price.
Reports have suggested that the Red Devils could go back in for both players this summer, which could take their eye of the ball for England.
Southgate reckons his star men will be able to cope with the speculation as he recalled his own transfer dilemma.
“I’d be a bloody hypocrite because I put a transfer request in on the eve of Euro 2000! I know I’m a hypocrite in a lot of areas, but I’ve got to make sure I don’t get pulled on that,” Southgate told the Mirror.
“But the fact was that I was just as determined to play well, it wasn’t a distraction for me. Talks will go on in the background and I don’t imagine any clubs or players would want be wanting agents in during that period.
“If you speak to players, they want those things to be going on in the background, they wouldn’t want to have to deal with it during a tournament and I think it would be unlikely they get it boxed off before but most deals are done post-tournaments like that.
“I’m practical about those things, I know there’s a reality, the players are mature enough to deal with that. We will have our group in, we’ll know the group that are with us, and they’ll be fully focused on England, I know.
“I think it’s harder when you’re at a club, back into a pre-season and you’ve got players that are in a situation where ‘are they leaving, or aren’t they leaving?’ I think that’s far more complicated for everybody because nobody’s really sure of what they are going to be working with.”
Meanwhile, Southgate is throwing his weight behind the Football Association’s Mutual Respect campaign and tie-up with Nationwide to help get people back playing football after the pandemic.
He explained: “In terms of player development, we won’t know the full impact but at certain ages, to have a six month hiatus can have a really high impact. You are talking about boys and decisions on taking them as scholars and full time professionals.
“There’s often late developers who might have emerged. There’s always stories of one boy who was the last pick to become a trainee or to become a pro who goes on to achieve the most.
“Then there are kids who will be missing out on fundamental skill development at five to nine age groups where they’ve just not been able to play with other kids.
“They might have been able to practice skills on their own or in the garden. But they’ve not been able to practice with others. That is a concern. It is time they won’t get back in reality.
“We won’t really know the full impact of that and we might never know the full impact of that. But without a doubt, the last year would have affected the opportunities for some kids to play through nobody’s fault really.
“We often think about grassroots football as the vehicle for finding the next Raheem Sterling, Harry Kane, whoever it might be, but the reality is it’s so much bigger than that. Most kids just want to play and have fun. They want to be with their friends.
“We’re not just talking about developing them as footballers – we’re talking about developing them as people. Very often a football coach will be possibly the most important influence in a young person’s life.”
Nationwide & The FA has pledged to ensure that one million parents and coaches engage with The FA Respect campaign over the next three years. The Nationwide Mutual Respect Award, as part of The Football Association’s Respect Campaign, aims to help make grassroots football more respectful and positive.
The brand-new award recognises outstanding contributions, achievements and behaviour in grassroots football across the country by young players under the age of 18, coaches, teams, parents and referees.