After a disastrous World Cup, the English players are looked at as over-rated and under-achievers. But in today’s transfer market, their prices seem to be shooting through the roof. Most of the young English talent is priced and valued higher than a lot of world-class players in the whole of Europe. This raises the question as to the credibility of the English transfer market.
UEFA have introduced a new ‘home-grown’ rule which states that each participating club in European competitions should have at least at least 8 homegrown players in their squad of 25 at the time of registration. Home-grown implies that a player has to be registered for at least three seasons at an English or Welsh club between the ages of 16 and 21.
This is why Liverpool are perceived to have launched a 15 million bid for Aston Villa’s Stewart Downing. Manchester United signed Blackburn Rovers’s young starlet Phil Jones for a reported £16.5 million and Villa’s Ashley Young for roughly the same fee. James Milner cost Manchester City upwards of £20 million last season when Mezut Ozil was commanding half the fee when he went to Real Madrid. Aston Villa payed an astonishing £24 million for Darren Bent in January.
One of the major problems that come with such huge price tags is the pressure on these players to live up to the expectations that inevitably come along with such pricey moves. The danger with paying such a high price for a young player is that he might crumble under the pressure of expectations. James Milner has struggled to hold a place in Manchester City’s first eleven (though that is also down to the astonishing squad depth that City possess). David Bentley, who was earning rave reviews at Blackburn Rovers, move to Tottenham for £15 million and has yet to make an impression at the club. Andy Johnson moved from Everton to Fulham for £10.5 million in 2008 and is yet to touch double figures in League goals.
UEFA are trying to promote homegrown talent in the European leagues but the English clubs seem to be suffering the most from this new ruling. Rafa Benitez, Arsene Wenger and Sven-Goran Eriksson have expressed disbelief at the prices being quoted for local talent. Eriksson bought Martin Petrov, a player who has played in the top divisions and who had 66 caps for his country for the same price that Sunderland payed for Kieran Richardson.
There seems to be no end to the inflation currently existing in the English market.