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Are English Players Good Value For Money?



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Arsene Wenger has been criticised for his reluctant venture into English players. Does he have a point or is he just being anti-English?

Let’s take a look at big money transfers involving English players in recent seasons:

  • Darren Bent £15.5m move to Spurs
  • Shaun Wright-Phillips £21m transfer to Chelsea
  • Michael Carrick £14m transfer to Man United (rising to £18.6m with add-ons)
  • Rio Ferdinand £30 million transfer to Man United
  • Wayne Rooney £20m transfer to Man United (yes, the same Manchester United again) – rising to £30m
  • Scott Parker £10m transfer to Chelsea (Michael Owen moved to Real Madrid in the same season for £8m only)

Owen Hargreaves is excluded here due to his continental exposure with Bayern Munchen.

Last week Aston Villa reportedly rejected a £15m bid for Gareth Barry and are holding out for £18m. If the Barry move is accepted, here we have an entire English midfield (Barry, Carrick, Parker and SWP) with an initial cost of £60m from 2004 to 2008. Will Fabio Capello start all of them in a competitive match that England must win? I doubt it. How about Darren Bent? Barry and Carrick may think they have a big claim in the starting line-up, but Gerrard, Lampard and Hargreaves are standing in their way, and who knows how much Steven Gerrard will cost if he ever moves to Chelsea?

Arsenal’s last season midfield quartet of Fabregas, Flamini, Hleb and Rosicky cost less than £20m, even the whole Arsenal first eleven is a lot cheaper than £60m. None of them English yet they were playing the kind of football which is fascinating to watch. I have nothing against English players here. Those English players mentioned above are good players but they are so overpriced by their respective clubs that the money paid does not represent value.

You may say that they are overpriced because there is high demand. Well, not everyone in the stock market behaves like Warren Buffett, especially in a bull run. The price tag on most English players in recent seasons has been blown far out of proportion.

Are the fans more satisfied if they see Arsene Wenger plays a different midfield in David Bentley, Jermaine Pennant, Stephen Hughes and Paolo Vernazza? The answer is no because Arsenal will not finish in the top four with this midfield quartet.

Please forgive me for being so cruel but this is the reality of football – if you are not good enough, you don’t play.

We are talking about club football here. Why should we put the rigid boundary on the players’ nationality in club football? The point is that club football management should take advantage of the flexibility which international football cannot afford. This is what makes club football management unique and attractive apart from the day-to-day involvement. If you are good enough, you play in a top club in EPL, not because you are English. Scholes and Beckham featured in the Man United treble winning team not because they are English.

There is nothing to do with their nationality as well when they were sold or dropped in the first team. I find it bizarre that people actually blaming the influx of foreign players dampen England’s chances to succeed in international stage. In order to compete with powerhouses like Real Madrid, Barca, Milan and etc., Wenger, Ferguson, Benitez and Mourinho cannot tolerate second class footballers. I will suggest working harder in the youth set-up of this country – more technical and discipline is needed.

I do not want to go further into youth set-up as this is drifting away from my initial discussion – overpriced marginal English internationals. Rafa Benitez can get an experienced international who has more than 40 caps under his belt and also valuable continental exposure with the kind of money Aston Villa is asking for. In fact he can easily get a foreign player as good as Barry for less than £9m, a more than 50% discount from Villa asking price. This is what kills English football – players are deprived of the chance to play with the best because of unreasonable pricing by their greedy owners and agents.

The latest development sees Gareth Barry being fined and banned by Villa for his outburst. Well done O’Neill. The difference between Ronaldo, arguably the best player in the world, and Barry is not only on the pitch, but also their off the pitch discipline. Yes your club prices you out but please show some respect to your club and boss especially when you are still under contract.

Try to tell Vodafone you will not pay them the monthly contract fee anymore after you have signed a 18-month contract with them 3 months ago to own the latest model from Nokia.