The big money signings of Phil Jones to Manchester United and Jordan Henderson to Liverpool has reopened the debate on the cost of English players. Now, of course the prices that have been paid for the two players are based on the potential ability and the fact that they could play in the Premier League for many seasons. So with all that being said is £16m for Phil Jones and the £20m deal for Jordan Henderson really so outrageous?
Phil Jones though is considered to be one of England’s brightest prospects and is currently performing in the UEFA European U21 international championship with England. Although, £16.5m seems a lot of money at the moment – Jones is only 19 at the moment and if he fulfils his potential then the £16m will seem like a bargain. However, critics of the deal would say that it’s a lot of money to pay for a player that is still relatively inexperienced.
Jones is a product of the Blackburn Rovers youth system and has played 40 games for Blackburn in all competitions. Jones has already been pinpointed by England by playing 9 times for the England U19 team and is now becoming a very important part of the England U21 team.
Jordan Henderson is a product of Sunderland’s youth academy and has been predicted to have a big future in the game. Henderson got some first-team experience in the 2008-09 season with a loan spell at Championship club Coventry; for the last two seasons Henderson has played regularly in the Premier League with Sunderland. Henderson has also received recognition at international level with caps for England at U19, U20 and U21 level and a solitary cap for the full England team.
Therefore, yes the transfer fees are significant, but they are for players that are young, talented and already have a decent amount of Premier League and international experience. The risk that Liverpool and Manchester United are taking on is relatively minimal keeping in mind that the pedigree of Jones and Henderson has already been proven to same degree. Certainly the risk is nowhere as great as if they player was not playing in the Premier League.
Some people may think that the transfers are not in the best interest in their career. Certainly neither player can expect to feature in as many games in the Premier League – but both Manchester United and Liverpool will want to compete in all competitions they are involved in and Phil Jones will get that all important Champions League experience. Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic are possibly both moving towards the end of their careers – so Phil Jones has every opportunity to become a first-team regular in the coming seasons. Jordan Henderson will also know that Liverpool look like building their team around young English talent – which means he is likely to get a chance and could be lined up as the long-term replacement for 31 year old Steven Gerrard. In addition to this both players will be playing alongside better players – which can only improve them as footballers.
English talent may well be overpriced but it’s important to remember that we are talking about the best young English talent and unless Sunderland and Blackburn receive a top offer then they really have no reason to sell. The clubs have had the players since they were very young and put in a lot of time and effort to make them the players they are today. Therefore, they rightful feel they should receive a high amount of compensation. It should also be kept in mind that major other European players would surely also command similar fees. The top talent from England, Germany and Spain of similar age would surely command similar transfer fees.
There is no doubt that world football is a bit mad at the moment and nearly every transfer that is made in the Premier League is overpriced. But if we are going to see these transfer fees anyway surely it is better that it is for English players? Something about the players being young and English helps – because if the players were 27 or 28 then surely it would be more of an issue. After all a significant part of evaluating the transfer fee is looking at how many seasons the player is likely to play.
There will be Premier League clubs with tighter budgets that will sign English players at bargain prices – but those such deals tend to be ignored because they don’t hit the headlines in the same way. English players can be expensive – but in the case of Jones and Henderson these prices could well be justified and are likely to look like very good deals in the coming seasons.