The appraisal of ‘British Young Talent’ is bordering on the ridiculous

As I type this, Sunderland and England under-21 international midfielder, Jordan Henderson is about to join Liverpool subject to a medical assessment and agreeing personal terms with the club for a fee of around £20 million, with Liverpool striker David N’Gog heading the other way in a player-swap plus money deal. This has roused debates around the football blogosphere and indeed around dinner tables everywhere about how over-inflated the transfer market has become, and, in particular, how English players valuation has been inflated in recent times.

Think about it. Jordan Henderson is coming off the back of a decent season for The Black Cats and was being lauded for his performances by media, coaches and players alike. He capped this off by receiving his first senior England cap in November and 3 goals and 5 assists during the 2010-11 season. It makes for a decent season for a 20 year old midfielder, but surely not one that warrants the £20 million valuation that has been asked for him plus another squad player? To quote pundit and former player Robbie Savage from his Twitter account, “So 20 million gets a young English talent who is an athlete yes, scores goals not really, decent passer, decent tackler, ok in air???” And you’ll see where I’m heading.

Then there’s the curious case of Andy Carroll, who went for about the same fee as world class David Villa who had just helped his national side win their first ever World Cup last year. Of course, Villa was bought before the global showpiece began, but the point I’m trying to convey is that there’s no reason why Carroll would go for that much. He is a great talent and young, but his fee beggars belief.

It makes one think that if Carroll is to go for 35 million, how much would, say, Gareth Bale go for, considering his two performances against the defending European champions at the time and against the much lauded Maicon, widely considered to be the best fullback in the world?

What about young Jack Wilshere , who’s already a full England international, an integral part of Arsenal ’s set-up, a touted future captain of the aforementioned teams, and who more than held his own against arguably one of the best midfield pairing of recent times – FC Barcelona’s Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta.

The only “British young star” transfer that was worthy of the hype in the last decade was perhaps Wayne Rooney ’s, seeing as he came off the back of a successful Euro 2004 with four goals before his injury against Portugal in the Quarter’s and that he immediately repaid that fee with a stunning hat-trick on debut for his new club against Fenerbahce in the Champions League, no less.

There’s a central theme of Liverpool here, but in fairness, they did great business in January selling a disillusioned striker for the amount he went for and bringing in the likes of Luis Suarez, who’s been top-notch thus far in his time at Merseyside. The Fenway Sports Group that owns the club are keen to get the club back on their perch, but with over-the-top spending like this, they will surely be staring into the barrel of bankruptcy sooner or later, which is the same position they were in not too long ago.

In the past five years, The Reds have had a net spend of £67.96m. They have dropped out of the Champions League, won nothing and built no stadium while, in comparison Arsenal’s net equals a £28.7m profit. The Gunners may have not won anything either, but the point is there to be made.

While the rest of the Premier League cry foul at the overspending antics of Chelsea and Manchester City, Liverpool may be slowly joining that pile. The transfer market is becoming somewhat of a circus now and one must further yearn for FIFA’s transfer regulations even more so. And it seems that clubs not in the top four will struggle to retain their young talent who will be in search of European football and perhaps guaranteed silverware and higher wages with Phil Jones also likely to make the switch to Manchester United from Blackburn Rovers.

Britain’s young talent, while good, by no means justify the market’s sky high inflation for them. The way Barcelona made Manchester United look ordinary and Spain’s World Cup triumph further highlights the deficiencies of British football in terms of technical proficiency – the model of football where the game is indefinitely headed towards now. The FA is looking to address this issue, but it remains to be seen whether the hype around young British will subside.

Article courtesy of Kenneth Ssekimpi at This is Futbol