Paying for the Passport?

Posted: June 14, 2011 by GaryCRobertson in England, Guest, Liverpool, Manchester United, Money, Spain, Transfers, Youth

Looking at England Under 21’s take on their Spanish counterparts on Sunday got me thinking about value for money in terms of the transfer market. A quick look through both teams and something stood out to me immediately – the high profile status of the English players due to their transfer fees in comparison to the Spanish. Intrigued by this, I was curious to see if this would translate into a comfortable win to back up their hefty fees…. It didn’t.

Here are the facts: Chris Smalling joined Man United two years ago for £12million, Jordan Henderson has just joined Liverpool for £20million, Phil Jones’ inevitable transfer looks like it’s going to net Blackburn close to £20million and the clubs of Sturridge, Wickham and Rodwell have all slapped £20million price tags on their young gems. Compared to Spain, David de Gea aside (who looks set to command a hefty fee) – only Juan Mata would cost a suitor over £10million.

Player for player, there probably isn’t a whole lot between the teams, but if anything, Spain were the better side. So why does an English player command so much money compared to an equally talented Spaniard? Surely Thiago Alacantra, Javi Martinez, Jeffren and Bojan would be regulars in most Premier League teams, yet I believe they would cost half the price (if even) of Henderson and Jones. I believe it is important to have a homegrown spine in a team but clubs can no longer afford to splash out £15million plus on an essentially unproven English player, especially when there is a much cheaper alternative abroad.

So why the inflated price tags? This is hindering the progression of the English national team in my opinion – talented English players are restricted from progressing their careers as they are simply unaffordable for a lot of clubs. Those that can afford them will usually have a world class player already instilled in his position, making it difficult to get regular football (see James Milner and Adam Johnson). Another interesting point is that not many English players play their football abroad – again the inflated price tags being the reason. This can also be a huge factor in developing players for the national team, as they gain experience of a different style of football and probably more European football.

While it’s important that the club that nurtured the player is justly rewarded, a bit of realism has to be applied. Rodwell is not a £20million plus player; sell him for his true value of about £8-£10 million with a number of sell on and appearance clauses that reflect his career progression of lack of it for that matter. This reduces the pressure on the kid and will in time aid the development of young English talent. I also believe it will generate money in the game at all levels as there will be increased “local” transfer activity – rather than one or two large transfers every year, much like they do in Spain (Madrid and Barca aside!), are their national side aint doing too bad now is it?

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Written by Derek.  You can follow him on Twitter @fattyfoulke

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