Auf Wiedersehen for Tranmere’s Dale?

by Mike Moore

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011

Tranmere's Dale Jennings - Bayern Target?


Now that the year’s league campaigns are drawing to a close, the silly season is fast approaching, as rumours are banded about fast and furious, many based purely on speculation and hearsay.

My favourite rumour though, since confirmed to be true, despite its outlandish and hard to believe nature, concerns Tranmere’s wonderkid Dale Jennings. The 18-year old, who can play as an attacking midfielder or striker, has scored six goals in thirty two appearances this season, including a wondergoal against Plymouth, his first senior goal. As with many lower-league talents, Jennings gained attention from several Premier League clubs, but that’s not why this story is so impressive. The young man from the Wirral has, it’s reported, now attracted the attention of German giants Bayern Munich, with Rovers manager Les Parry confirming to BBC Radio Merseyside that Munich had been in contact.

It doesn’t get more fairytale than this – young kid playing for a deeply unfashionable third-tier side draws the eye of multi-European champions. If the deal comes to anything, it’ll be one of the deals of the summer, and may lead to a glittering career for this young lad.

But would a move abroad be such a wise idea? Jennings has his whole career ahead of him, and moving to a completely new country with a whole new culture, not to mention learning a new language, would be a huge challenge to one so young. Whenever young talents are linked to lucrative moves up the football pyramid, former pro’s and pundits often advise the player to take it slowly, enjoy playing first-team football for a while longer rather than spending an unproductive and frustrating period in a better team’s reserves, waiting for your big break. Conor Wickham and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlin, of Ipswich and Southampton respectively, have both enjoyed great seasons with their clubs, leading to much speculation as to where they might go next. Both have stated their desire to play at the highest level, but importantly, both have recently signed new contracts to gain more experience at their current club (although whether this hinders Arsenal’s chase of Chamberlin waits to be seen…)

There is also the bugbear that English players do tend not to do so well abroad. Probably the best parallel to Jennings’ situation is that of Craig Davies, who has just finished the season as Chesterfield’s top goalscorer, firing them to promotion to League One. But he has had to wait for his major opportunity. Davies moved to Serie B Hellas Verona in 2006 to improve his chances of international football, but enduring a frustrating campaign before moving to Oldham later that year, claiming he couldn’t adapt to Italian culture. Examples such as this are what Jennings needs to examine and consider before making his choice.

It’s safe to say, though, that Jennings’ first season as a professional, (he was voted League One Apprentice of the Year in January) has been nothing short of incredible, and few would bet against him going further.


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