It’s fair to say that the national teams of England and Germany haven’t always seen eye to eye. But when it comes to club football, there are seemingly no issues, with plenty of young English talent making their way to the Bundesliga over the years.
Whether it be temporarily or permanently, the German top-flight has witnessed many English youngsters come over in an attempt to further their progress in the game.
The latest such player to make the switch is Chelsea winger Callum Hudson-Odoi, who last week joined Bayer Leverkusen on loan for the rest of the season.
As shown in recent seasons, young English wingers moving to Germany is certainly not uncommon. Here are five such players who once journeyed to play in the Bundesliga:
Emile Smith Rowe – RB Leipzig
Arsenal winger Emile Smith Rowe was a hugely important name on Mikel Arteta’s team sheet not so long ago, but recently he has had to play second fiddle to the likes of Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli. But he remains a crucial piece of the Arsenal setup, with his talent on show for all to see when he comes off the bench.
That talent was refined in the Arsenal academy, but he did spend a period on loan at RB Leipzig. That said, his time in the Bundesliga was disrupted by injury, with the winger managing just three appearances during his loan spell in the 2018/19 campaign.
Jadon Sancho – Borussia Dortmund
An English winger with a much more successful stint in Germany is Manchester United’s Jadon Sancho, who spent four seasons at Borussia Dortmund. The forward made the move to Germany from Manchester City in 2017, with rivals Manchester United bringing him back to the Premier League last summer.
Sancho certainly hasn’t set the world alight during his time at Old Trafford, with his displays falling somewhat short of the standards he set at Dortmund. But the winger may be boosted by the attacking system of Erik ten Hag, having recently found the back of the net in the victory against Liverpool in fine fashion.
Demarai Gray – Bayer Leverkusen
Winger Demarai Gray introduced himself to the English Premier League at Leicester, where he spent five impressive seasons. But January 2021 saw the forward make a switch to Bundesliga side Bayer Leverkusen on an 18-month contract.
His time in Germany started in fine fashion, with Gray finding the back of the net in a debut victory against Stuttgart. But it would prove to be his only goal in 12 appearances in all competitions, with a return to England following shortly after as Everton made their move.
Ryan Kent – SC Freiburg
While developing his career at Liverpool, winger Ryan Kent was sent out on five different loans, one of which was with Bundesliga club SC Freiburg. His planned 2017/2018 season-long spell in Germany was, however, cut short, with the talented attacker returning to his parent club in January of that campaign before moving to Bristol City.
Kent now stars for Scottish Premiership side Rangers, and is currently preparing for a huge couple of meetings with former club Liverpool in this season’s Champions League.
Reiss Nelson – 1899 Hoffenheim
22-year-old Reiss Nelson has been with Arsenal for several years now, signing his first professional contract with the Gunners in 2016 under Arsene Wenger. This was followed by two loan moves away from north London, firstly with 1899 Hoffenheim and secondly with Feyenoord.
The young winger was a regular for both sides, with his 2018/19 temporary spell in the Bundesliga producing seven goals from 29 matches. He can represent either England or Zimbabwe at international level.
Which other English youngsters have moved between England and Germany?
The transfers between England and Germany have not been limited to just wingers, of course, highlighted by the moves of the likes of defenders Ryan Sessegnon and Omar Richards, and midfielder Tommy Doyle.
Sessegnon has certainly had to be patient for a starting role at Tottenham Hotspur, and it looked like his time had finally come this season under Antonio Conte. The Italian started the youngster in the first two league games, but has since opted for the more-experienced Ivan Perisic at left wing-back, with Sessegnon coming off the bench in the second two matches.
Sessegnon is, however, much closer to the action in north London than he was during the 2020/21 campaign, when he, like Nelson, was loaned out to Bundesliga side 1899 Hoffenheim. He has certainly impressed in the early stages of the new season, scoring in the opening day win against Southampton.
Richards meanwhile started his promising senior career in the English Championship at Reading. But after four seasons, he caught the eye of German giants Bayern Munich. A total of 17 appearances in one successful campaign followed, with the defender helping his side lift the Bundesliga and the DFL-Supercup.
But in July the 24-year-old decided to return home, becoming Nottingham Forest’s fifth summer signing in what has turned out to be one of the most remarkable transfer periods in the history of any club.
And Manchester City starlet Doyle, who is currently on loan in the Championship with Sheffield United, previously spent a campaign on loan in 2. Bundesliga with Hamburg.
Which English players are currently in the Bundesliga?
There are plenty of English players still playing German football, the most notable of which being Borussia Dortmund and England midfielder Jude Bellingham. The 19-year-old has been strongly linked with a return to English football with Liverpool, but for now he remains a key player in Dortmund’s chase for another league title.
Bellingham is joined at the club by former Man City forward Jamie Bynoe-Gittens, who scored his first Bundesliga goal earlier this month in a win against SC Freiburg. The 18-year-old recently signed a contract extension to keep him at Dortmund until 2025.
Another former City player in Felix Nmecha is currently at VfL Wolfsburg, joined by older brother and also ex-City man Lukas. The former has represented both Germany and England at youth international level and remains free to choose, but the latter has opted to represent Germany on the international stage.
Former Derby County defender Lee Buchanan is a regular at Werder Bremen, while ex-Chelsea youngster Clinton Mola is with VfB Stuttgart, but has just joined Blackburn Rovers on loan. Ex-Everton defender Jonjoe Kenny also currently plays Bundesliga football with Hertha BSC.
Arsenal also have a former player in the Bundesliga through VfL Bochum full-back Jordi Osei-Tutu, while former West Ham man Reece Oxford has been with FC Augsburg since 2019.