What does the future hold for Jack Rodwell?

Jack Rodwell ’s potential transfer to one of the bigger teams in the Premiership has been mooted for several years now. Speculation has been rife for some time that Manchester United, Chelsea or Arsenal, and currently Tottenham and Manchester City, will make a £20m plus bid for the Everton man. The question is: is he really worth it?

The first thing to say is that Rodwell certainly has the ability to become a great player. He is quick, strong, tall and capable in both an attacking and defensive role. However, since being given his first run out for the Toffees back in the 2007/08 season, Rodwell has scored only two Premiership goals, and has only two Premiership assists to his name.

So this raises the issue of what role these clubs envisage for the midfielder. Is he a defensive midfielder, an attacking midfielder, or a box-to-box, Steven Gerrard-esque midfielder? Blues boss David Moyes has even suggested Rodwell will eventually make his way back to centre-back, and though this suggests a versatility to Rodwell, which would inevitably add value to his transfer, it also alludes to the fact that the player is not quite sure of his role in the Everton team.

Rodwell was presented with an ideal opportunity to showcase his talents at the recent European Championships with England U-21s, and though he was not alone in terms of the abject nature of his brief performances, he will be very disappointed with his efforts. So too will David Moyes if he harbours any hopes to sell the player.

But this brings us on to a more general point about England’s youngsters. After three disgraceful displays against Spain, Ukraine and Czech Republic, it seems entirely ridiculous for the same players to be the primary targets for the Premiership big boys. Only Manchester United’s Chris Smalling showed anything near the amount of class you would expect for a player valued at £10m.

Smalling is without doubt the most assured player in the Under-21s set-up coming off the back of a superb season for Manchester United. As he had played so few games for Fulham, again Ferguson was paying for potential. So how can Smalling’s U-21 team-mates, namely Jordan Henderson, Phil Jones and Jack Rodwell, justify transfers fees of double that amount?

It makes no sense. Premier League manager’s preference for young English players over ones that have developed, matured and proven themselves is perhaps their biggest weakness. To illustrate the point, Kenny Dalglish recently paid about £25m too much for Andy Carroll – a player who had 31 career goals to his name (mainly at Championship level) at 3.1 games per goal – whereas Darren Bent , whose record stands at 168 career goals at 2.3 games per goal (mainly at Premiership level) went for around £15m less.

Bent’s consistently impressive scoring return justifies his consistently lofty transfer fees. Put simply, a good season in the Championship, an excellent start to the Premiership and a clear aptitude for heading does not, in any way, justify £35m.

Finally, as much as everyone occasionally bemoans the lack of English talent in the Arsenal team, Arsene certainly has the right idea. Why pay £20m for Rodwell and Henderson, when you can pay a pittance for Fabregas. Fabregas is a one-off, you say? Alright then, £35m for Carroll or £6m for Hernandez? Again, the disparity is laughable.

The more young English players move for astronomical sums, the more managers will turn to foreign imports to bolster their squads. And, perhaps more importantly for some, the more these young English players move for so much so young, the harder they must try to justify their price-tags leading to more pressure, heightened scrutiny and a more fearful arena in which to develop.

And we wonder why England are so bad…

Article courtesy of Chris Smith at the Transfer Tavern