Two of the defining characteristics from this summer’s biggest transfers deals have been English players and big transfer fees. The huge money being spent on home grown talent by the likes of Manchester United and Liverpool not only bodes well for their fans and the Premier League but also the future of England.
When the golden generation are eventually replaced by today’s up-and-coming stars, the experience gained by Ashley Young, Phil Jones, Jordan Henderson and Andy Carroll playing for clubs fighting for honours both domestically and in Europe will hopefully go on to benefit the national team.
Manchester United’s captures of Young and Jones indicate Sir Alex Ferguson’s shift in transfer policy as he looks to build a team of the future based on English talent. Whilst Young enjoyed great success at Aston Villa, playing regular Champions League football can only improve his game. His flair, pace and eye for goal should suit United and give Young the chance to link up with world class strikers like Wayne Rooney, Javier Hernandez and Dimitar Berbatov. Young’s England standing rose considerably last year with a number of impressive performances in the national shirt and a move to United should give Young the chance to cement his place in England’s starting eleven. After his impressive displays in the European U21 Championships this summer, Phil Jones is another capture with one eye on the future from Fergie. For now Jones will have the chance to learn from one of the best central defence partnerships for many years in Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic but over the next few years Jones will hopefully forge a equally successful partnership with fellow Englishman Chris Smalling, something that points to a good future for Manchester United and England.
Jordan Henderson’s £20 million move to Liverpool from Sunderland came off the back of two very good seasons for the youngster with the Black Cats. Creative midfielder Henderson has emerged as one of the finest young talents in the country and his form for his club last season prompted Liverpool to splash out a lot of money on him. His move to the Reds is a step up and whilst he will not be playing Champions League football next season, Liverpool look to be building a team ready to push for the top four and honours, something that Henderson can only benefit from. He will also get the chance to play alongside and learn from England’s best midfielder Steven Gerrard. Andy Carroll, like Henderson, can also benefit from Liverpool’s attempt to break into the top of the Premier League again. Whilst his first few months on Merseyside were interrupted by injuries, Carroll has the chance to improve his game as a number 9 at the top level for both club and country.
Unlike the transfers of Carroll, Henderson and Young who look to be players for the future but at the same time need to deliver soon to justify the eye-watering sums of money spent on them, Sunderland’s Connor Wickham is definitely a talent for the years ahead and probably one of the best examples of how this summer’s transfers policy can help England. Whilst he won’t be playing European football at Sunderland next season, his step up into the Premier League from Championship side Ipswich Town is definitely one that can benefit the 18-year-old’s game. Yes Steve Bruce has taken a risk on spending a fee possibly rising to £12 million on the teenager but the physicality, tactical awareness and playing against some of the best defenders week on week can only help Wickham, Sunderland and hopefully England.
There are also plenty of transfer rumours that could still see top English talent making a move this summer. Gary Cahill is one of the most coveted English defenders with the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City and Tottenham all reported to have shown interest in the player. Arsenal and Chelsea appear to be the frontrunners for the defender but they would probably have to pay out around £17 million. Arsenal desperately require a defensive leader and if Cahill was to make the move to the Emirates then that responsibility could fall on his shoulders. A move to Chelsea could be equally successful. He would have his first taste of European football (which he would also get at Arsenal) and the chance to play alongside fellow England centre back John Terry. Cahill could soon offer the competition for the ageing pairing of Ferdinand and Terry at the back for England. Stewart Downing is another English player who looks to be close to a move after Villa and Liverpool agreed a fee reported to be around £20 million. If the move is finalised Downing can establish himself as first choice left midfielder for Liverpool (a problem position for the Reds) and then he hopefully can push on and make the position his own for England.
The desire for English talent may have caused inflated transfer fees but as an England fan, getting these players to the top clubs and playing against the world’s best players is imperative for future success on the international stage. But as every tortured England fan who sat with their hands in their heads during last year’s World Cup knows, playing at the top level domestically doesn’t always translate to success internationally. The so-called golden generation has been littered with players who performed at the top level for their clubs but couldn’t replicate that form when it counted for England. But the key to avoiding the same mistakes may be getting that experience in early. Henderson, Jones and Carroll have all made moves to big clubs at a young age (whilst Downing and Young are only 26) and hopefully have many successful years at the likes of Manchester United and Liverpool ahead of them. Getting them all to play together for their country, learning each other’s game and forming a team spirit may also be key for the next England manager.
Whilst the future for the Premier League and England does look good on paper, all may depend on these players avoiding injuries and actually performing well for their clubs under the weight of expectation that comes from high transfer fees. But the top Premier League club’s faith in spending big on young English talent points to a good future for both club and country.
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