On the 31st January 2011, Andy Carroll became the most expensive English player of all time as he made the move from Tyneside to Merseyside for a fee of around £35million. At the time, his move was arguably overshadowed by the transfer of Fernando Torres, with the Spaniard effectively giving up the number 9 shirt to Carroll in completing his switch to Chelsea for around £50million. However in comparing the seasons of both Carroll and Torres after making these big money moves, it would appear as though the young Englishman is a step ahead in proving his worth. Whilst a young and rather inexperienced Andy Carroll helped himself to two league goals in only six appearances, the prolific goal scorer that is Fernando Torres, managed just the solitary goal in 14 games. Although the hefty price tag that was placed on Carroll seemed outrageous to some, his contribution at Liverpool has already outshone that of Torres’ at Chelsea, and it seems as though his transfer has paved the way for other managers to feel compelled to fork out big money for other young English talent.
The sale of Fernando Torres ultimately provided Liverpool with the funds to bring in Carroll, and Kenny Dalglish has wasted little time in this window to use up the remaining £15million (and a little more) to bring in 21-year old Jordan Henderson. Despite making 33 league appearances in 2009/10, Henderson only really made a name for himself this season and was believed to have attracted interest from several other clubs, including Manchester United, especially after winning his first England cap against France back in November. This summer window has also seen the sale of Phil Jones from Blackburn Rovers to Manchester United for a fee believed to be around £16million. Despite several solid performances at club level, Jones is only 19 years old, and yet to win a senior cap at international level. Whilst the obscene transfer fees and salaries that are associated with European club football have become somewhat more readily accepted as ‘the norm’, there seems to be a worry when it comes to the young English players, that there is an element of risk, a gamble even, in paying such high transfer fees.
Those who do fear or worry for either Sir Alex or Dalglish over these signings may have reasonable grounds for doing so, particularly in light of the Under-21 European Championship. England failed to progress out of the group stages of the tournament, and were outclassed by eventual champions Spain when the sides met for their opening game. The worry then, seems to be that players like Henderson, Jones, and even Carroll to some extent, are yet to fully prove their abilities week-in week-out, and that although their transfer fees may not be as high as the likes of Torres or Ronaldo and so on, such fees are undoubtedly very high for players that are merely showing potential. There are two sides to the coin however, and there are many who believe that after the season that these players have had, they may well turn out to be bargains for their club. Only time will tell, however with the ‘homegrown player rule’ now firmly in place in the Premier League it seems as though neither Ferguson nor Dalglish were willing to risk these players moving elsewhere. Although neither Jones nor Henderson will be guaranteed a place in the starting line ups at Manchester United or Liverpool, it seems that, in the long run, their managers feel that this rather expensive ‘gamble’ is one that is certainly worth taking. Personally, I remain rather sceptical; however, in a way, hope to be proven wrong.