The common perception amongst Premier League followers is that the average English footballer is an overvalued, over-hyped, one-trick pony whose abilities pale in comparison to players of similar age and experience from outside England. (The fact that sometimes these foreigners are brought in on the cheap heightens the contrast.)
There are 3 simple reasons why English footballers are more expensive than their counterparts:
1. Transfers between league rivals are more expensive
Player trading within the same league/country is on average more expensive than player trading between two leagues in different countries. If you look at the averages, a player sold to a rival club in the same league goes for more money than a player being sold to a club in Spain. The same happens when buying players.
For example, contrast the purchases of Eduardo Da Silva by Arsenal and Yakubu by Everton. 7m for the former, 11m for the later. The jump is partially based on the fact that Yakubu was going to a rival club in the same league, but doesn’t explain the whole story.
2. English clubs have more money
On a whole, Premier League clubs have more money than most other European clubs – and as a result the prices are automatically jacked up higher. Combine this with the premium attached to buying/selling players in the same league and you come across situations where the 4m-rated Alan Smith goes to Newcastle United for 6m while the 8m-rated Guiseppe Rossi goes to Villareal for 6.7m.
But there’s one more thing to consider….
3. English players prefer staying in England
English players usually stick to England (silly, but then again there’s more money there) – and this factor combined with the two points mentioned above jacks up the average transfer fees paid for English players so that when Tottenham went looking for a quality young striker last season they had to pay 12-16m for Darren Bent.
It’s difficult to deal with individual transfers, though, as each transfer fee has its own reasons – Hargreaves’ cost 17m not because he was English but because of Bayern’s desire to make a profit and United’s desire to see him play at Old Trafford. One must look at broader trends and averages to understand why Wenger complains about English players being so expensive.