Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughHigh premiums on young English talent - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough High premiums on young English talent - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

High premiums on young English talent

As Wilfried Zaha completed his £15m move from Crystal Palace to Manchester United this week, there was much comment with regards to the fee and whether or not English clubs charge over the odds for their young English talent.

 This issue is something that has come to the forefront of people’s minds in recent times with deals such as those for the likes of Zaha, Andy Carroll and Jordan Henderson.  However, if we look back ion time this is something that has been going on for some years, and here are some of the examples where clubs have had their fingers burnt for young English players.

Francis Jeffers – Everton to Arsenal – £8m – 2001

The original ‘fox in the box’, Francis Jeffers moved to Arsenal off the back of an exciting early career at Everton.  Jeffers failed to live up to the expensive fee during four barren years at Highbury, one of which was an entirely goalless season long loan back at Everton.  On leaving Arsenal, Jeffers never again lived up to his early promise during spells at eight different clubs including Charlton, Sheffield Wednesday and Glasgow Rangers.  One up side to Jeffers career would be a 100% scoring record for England, admittedly his record is only 1 cap, 1 goal.

Kevin Davies – Southampton to Blackburn – £7.25m – 1998

Blackburn threw over £7m at Kevin Davies in 1998, a player who originally made his name at Chesterfield during their 1997 FA Cup run, which saw them cruelly beaten by Middlesborough in the semi final.  Davies endured a torrid spell at Ewood Park, scoring just 1 goal in over twenty appearances.  This barren run resulted in a move back to Southampton after just one season in a player exchange involving Egil Ostenstad, smart business by Southampton you would argue.  Davies eventually found a home at Bolton Wanderers, becoming a firm fans favourite and an England International, earning his one and only cap in a Euro 2012 qualification match against Montenegro.  Despite relative success during the twilight years of his career, Davies is a definite example of where a club has paid over the odds simply for a player that might come good.

David Bentley – Blackburn to Tottenham – £15m – 2008

Although much more recent than the previous two examples, the £15m Spurs paid Blackburn for Bentley was simply too big an amount to ignore.  Having come through the youth system at Arsenal, Bentley always showed the ability but never the consistency to become a top Premier League player.  It was at Ewood Park that Bentley began to add consistency to his game and made him one of the focal points of a team that reached the Uefa Cup under Mark Hughes.  This persuaded Tottenham to part with £15m for the players signature, during a time when Premier League clubs had already begun to look abroad to equal talent at a far reduced rate.  During his spell at White Hart Lane, Bentley never really going, amassing just 42 appearances for the club since 2008.  Bentley has seen himself loaned out to clubs such as Birmingham, West Ham and Russian side FC Rostov in an attempt to recapture the form of his Blackburn days, but to this day Spurs still seem an age away from getting any return on their investment.

The inflated price tags slapped on young English players could be affecting the long term success of the national side.  Clubs are now more and more willing to look abroad for their acquisitions as the buying club tends to get a better deal.  Look at Newcastle for example, we have seen a wave of newcomers to Tyneside during this transfer window, all of whom from Ligue 1, and we are already seeing an instant impact on the pitch with the inclusions of Sissoko and Gouffran contributing towards their vital 2-1 win at Aston Villa on Tuesday night.  Managers looking abroad is halting the England team of tomorrow coming through, why would managers pay upwards of £8m for Thomas Ince as has been reported when they can pay a fraction of the price and import from the continent?

Aaron Sharp