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England's finest?

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Phil McNulty | 11:09 UK time, Thursday, 9 June 2011

When Jordan Henderson and Phil Jones joined England's Under-21 squad for training in the Danish town of Fredericia on Thursday in preparation for the forthcoming European Championship, their lives had been transformed by the events of the previous 24 hours.

They had gone from simply being two precious commodities in Stuart Pearce's talented group to two shining symbols of the future of English football after being targeted as summer signings by Liverpool and Manchester United respectively.

Midfielder Henderson, 20, eventually sealed his move from Sunderland to Anfield on Thursday while Blackburn Rovers defender Jones, 19, is still waiting to confirm his switch to United after ignoring the advances of Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham.

So what has persuaded Premier League's top clubs to openly fight for the cream of young English talent and be prepared to spend big money to secure their services?

Jones, who has flourished in central defence but can also operate in midfield, was the most sought after once Liverpool triggered a £16m release clause in his contract.

Kenny Dalglish had hoped to pip Sir Alex Ferguson to the teenager, who had emerged as an outstanding prospect following his debut against Chelsea in March 2010.

Ferguson's preferred option had been to wait another year to make his move for a player whose natural talent and temperament appears to make him heir apparent to Rio Ferdinand but Dalglish's intervention forced his hand.

But what about the price tag?

Former Blackburn striker Kevin Gallacher, a regular observer of Jones, dismissed the theory that the high demand and low supply of top-class English talent forced Ferguson to pay over the odds. In fact, the ex-Scotland forward believes United have got a bargain.

"I think he's under-priced, to be honest," Gallacher told me. "He is already top quality and will only get better with the players that will be around him at Manchester United. My own view is that Blackburn would have been looking for £20m minimum for Phil but there was a clause in his contract that enabled him to go for less."

And this is why Gallacher believes Ferguson has got a cut-price deal: "He's been absolutely fantastic for a 19-year-old playing in the Premier League. He is a leader on the park, can defend superbly and puts his body on the line.

"Aside from that, he can actually play, which gives him an ability to play in midfield, although I would imagine United want to use him in central defence. He is not scared to take the ball and play, all the things Sir Alex likes to see from his defenders.

"Lots of clubs are looking for young English talent coming through and it doesn't surprise me so many were interested in Phil. I suppose he might have to sit it out for a while at Old Trafford but who knows what will happen and how long Ferdinand might last.

"Phil has the personality and character to succeed at Old Trafford. He will only get better there and I think he is outstanding already."

United had also been linked with a move for Henderson after he won his first England cap against France in November but their interest waned as his form dipped amid Sunderland's struggles in the second half of the season.

Dalglish was not put off and has invested in the midfielder's rich promise. Henderson certainly fits the bill as far as Liverpool's owners - the Fenway Sports Group - are concerned. They are willing to pay big prices for young English players.

Former Sunderland defender Michael Gray believes Dalglish has conducted a shrewd piece of business and already sees the role Henderson may fulfil in Liverpool's side.

"Jordan is the modern day player," said Gray. "He is enthusiastic, goes from box to box and is full of energy. He is steady, rarely gives the ball away and has an eye for a pass. He also wants to be a winner and that will fit right in with what Kenny wants at Liverpool.

"He did have a dip in form in the second half of the season but I think Sunderland had so many injuries he was forced to play more games than he should have. His fitness levels dropped and it was probably time to pull him out but Steve Bruce wasn't able to do that.

"Jordan will have a little break after the England Under-21s and come back refreshed. And with Liverpool's bigger squad, Kenny will be able to manage him carefully.

"I think Kenny has signed a terrific player. The move will be good for Jordan and his international career. There is no better place for a young player to be than at one of the top five or six clubs. That is going to really benefit him."

Gray also believes Henderson can make his mark in a midfield that already features Steven Gerrard and Lucas.

"I think his best position is on the right side," said Gray. "He's got great delivery into the box and his dead ball skills are very strong. He has got the energy to play in front of a full-back who likes to get forward because he also has defensive awareness.

"He has the right character to succeed in an environment like Liverpool. He has got a great attitude. I have spoken to him and his father on numerous occasions and he is very level-headed and a great professional who is fully focused on his football."

The transfer fee is a lot but Gray believes Dalglish has made a sound investment.

"If you asked me if I think £20m is a lot for Jordan, then I would probably agree," said Gray. "But take into consideration that he is young, already a full England international and has the potential to develop into an outstanding player, then you could be looking at a bargain a few years down the line."


Page 1 of 6

  • Comment number 1.

    Phil Jones for £16m? As a Blackburn season ticket holder and having watched Phil Jones progress this season and last, I'm extremely disappointed:

    A. To see him leave, (but understand why)
    B. The fee is laughable in the current market. He's worth at least £20m of any clubs money.

    Great piece of negation by his agent, pathetic by Rovers...

  • Comment number 2.

    *negotiation obviously.

  • Comment number 3.

    The astronomical fees paid for two completely unproven players represents the sad state of our national pool of talent. A promising player has become as rare that it is comparable to someone selling on an original Beatles LP, or a Faberge Egg.

    It makes me think what kind of fee a decent professional like Steve Stone, Alan Thompson or John Newsome would command in the market today.

    Jones to me looks like the better of the two purchases, whereas Henderson remindms me of a more polished Gary O'Neil, spritely, full of energy, a sensible passer and can deliver a decent cross.

    King Kenny he may be named but he is running the risk of becoming a Jester by splashing in excess of £50m on Andy Carroll and Jordan Henderson

  • Comment number 4.

    "two shining symbols of the future of English football"

    Not again Phil... really? Please don't let the English media ruin yet more young players by placing loads of pressure on their shoulders. Let them prove themselves for their clubs for a bit before even hinting at England glories, it's things like this that lead to our "Golden Generation" disappointments. Really, really annoys me.

  • Comment number 5.

    #4. He said "the future of English football". There was absolutely no reference to being the future of England football. As has been seen many times, players who are great for their clubs can't translate that to national duty. If these players perform really well for their clubs, and help those clubs to success, then they are part of successful English football, without necessarily playing for England.

    Why do hacks on here have to slam the journalists on every comment? Try reading the article for what it is, rather than what you think it is...

  • Comment number 6.

    Agree with 'Were Ngoging to Ibiza'
    The media 'circus' really needs to have a word or two with itself.. but that's not going to happen, is it?

    Good luck to them!

  • Comment number 7.

    i fel that man u are ojn the right track if reports are correct
    the spanish goalie & the villa winger a re good signings
    the centre half seems like over provision bearing in mind the other 4 centre halves on the books
    liverpool have staked all on caroll & henderson
    personally i feel they paid £5m over the odds for both men
    they need a left back
    if they sign the frenchman from arsenal it will be a step in the right direction
    kenny appears to buy a raincoat when his boots are leaking
    ie an attacker when the defence is the problem
    this sort of myopic thinking marred his 1st speel as manager
    arsenal have sign the lad from soton with a doubke barrelled name
    they pipped man u for him
    a good signing i feel
    they are also bringing in young defenders which is good
    all they need now is a decent goalie
    spurs too need another centre half & a long term goalie
    does anyone agree with me that seamus coleman of everton was the steal of the decade at £900,000?
    his pace & committment transform everton from a mid-table side to a good attacking force
    if only they can hang onto their bright young stars
    also srtengthen their small squad?
    if so the europa league beckons

  • Comment number 8.

    We got a great price on Henderson - I would have happily let hime go for about half of that. Good player that he is he has a long way to go yet. But Micky Gray can't have seen his dead ball skills. Abysmal. Never beats the first man on a corner.

  • Comment number 9.

    I think these are both shrewd signings although Jones choice of Man U over the over clubs was a wrong one - he needs games to develop and I don't think he will get that at Old Trafford. Henderson is more than just a simple passer - his game is a lot more involved and he reminds me of a young Frank Lampard - another player who was touted as having a silly price tag. With Gerrards fitness being dodgy I can see Henderson can be a real force. What we got to ask is if phil Jones is worth 16m how much is Cahill worth?

  • Comment number 10.

    What makes Manchester United and Liverpool think paying £20 million at a time on 20 year-old boys will make them more successful? Yes, these players are the future of English football... the "stars of tomorrow"... but is all this money being thrown at them teaching them any lessons? Does it really make them play "better"?

    English football is ruined because money and instant success is more appealling than passion, patience and discipline. Barcelona have proved this over the last 5 years that money and instant success are no match for the latter... yes I do agree Barcelona have paid vast amounts of money for the services of David Villa and Ibrahima Afellay, but these two players are well-proved and established football players (Afellay may only be 22/23, but I believe he is a rare talent). This is a fungus where the FA, the English football clubs and their representatives have allowed to get out of control... It's the very reason why player footballs behave the way they do... the reason why England will never win the European Championships or the World Cup. Money has corrupted the beautiful game that we invented. I am no Manchester United fan/support but as a fan of English football I felt disgraced when Barcelona made Manchester United look like a bunch of school children aimlessly running around the playground.

    Here's an idea for the Premier League... Rather than have Manchester United and other such clubs with large financial power buy all these high quality young players, why not spend £20 million on youth academies, looking for the talents of tomorrow, providing something for the communities they are situated in. I believe football is something everyone can enjoy, but ultimately the football clubs are responsible for implementing this through ticket prices, by marketing themselves in an approachable way and by putting monies back in the local economies NOT just through taxation.

  • Comment number 11.

    @ No: 5. Slightly contradicting yourself there in your first 2 sentences!

  • Comment number 12.

    Both good signings in terms of talent but over-priced given their actual achievements. Liverpool overpaid with Andy Carroll as well. People ask why so many foreign players are signed by Premier League clubs and the answer is teh ridiculous fees quoted and paid for English players. Give Chris Smalling was only £10M can't see how Phil Jones is worth £16M

  • Comment number 13.

    Re Henderson :

    "Jordan is the modern day player," said Gray. "He is enthusiastic, goes from box to box and is full of energy. He is steady, rarely gives the ball away and has an eye for a pass "

    In other words, yet another typical English player.

    What England really need are players who are characterised by " class, skill, and invention ".

  • Comment number 14.

    @ No: 5. although I have to agree with you I hate it when people have a go at the journalists

  • Comment number 15.

    @7.At 13:57 10th Jun 2011, peter liddell wrote
    does anyone agree with me that seamus coleman of everton was the steal of the decade at £900,000?
    Er , Sligo Rovers wish , it was only £60,000 , thats sixty thousand pounds .Now please try and not call that a steal .

  • Comment number 16.

    martinez staying at wigan is a refreshing change
    did someone mention the word loyalty?
    well done

  • Comment number 17.

    The quota for home grown players will artifically increase prices for a while until chairmen understand the investment in acadamies.

    More interesting is the timing of these signings. So early in the transfer window. Maybe a realisation from the clubs that nearer deadline day prices will rocket further and Man City and Chelsea will be the only ones to afford the talent.

    I think we are heading to a 2 tier market. June-July transfers for average players then July-Aug for the £50m+ quality players.
    Agents must be rubbing their hands.

  • Comment number 18.

    thanks murray
    its robbery!!!!!!!!!!!!
    while we are on the subject..........
    chester sold a player whose name i forget to ipswich for buttons
    they were entitled to 20% of any future sale
    he was duly sold to stoke for £5m
    the £1m would have saved chester going into administration
    ipswich hung on til chester had folded & trousered the £1m
    forgive me if i dont feel too sorry for the tractor boys current soory plight
    esp as norwich are in the premiership

  • Comment number 19.

    After the England game the other week, there seemed to be a general consensus that one of the major reasons the England team is so poor is that there are so few players playing for the big teams in the Champions League. Now the big boys appear to be investing in good English talent, they're now being criticised for buying them.

    Can't really win can they.

  • Comment number 20.

    If we were to use Van Der Vaart's price of 8 million, then you have to think that both Liverpool & Man Utd have paid well over the odds.

  • Comment number 21.

    @4 I don't think it's the media here at fault for pressuring these players, it's the clubs who are prepared to pay ridiculous sums for unproven players. Dalglish particularly is going to be the death of liverpool. £50m for two under 21s? crazy.

  • Comment number 22.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 23.

    It is absolutely ridiculous the sort of prices been paid for mediocre English players! As a Liverpool fan I am dismayed that £55 million has been paid for two completely un-proven players, (Carroll and Henderson) who even if they reach their maximum potential they are very unlikely to prove worth that expenditure.

    So lets compare Liverpool sign Suarez for £22 million and Carroll for £35 million. Suarez has more than one season playing at the top level, Carroll doesn't. Suarez is a full international who has playing in the World Cup, Carroll has had 2? Caps for England! Both are similar ages and it is clear that Suarez is a vastly superior player. So basically Liverpool pay a fortune because Carroll is English! Ridiculous.

    In fact, the last quality English players that liverpool purchased were John Barnes and Peter Beardsley! The rest have been either mediocre (Crouch, Johnson) or flops (Pennant, Barmby, Joe Cole etc).

    The simple truth is that English players are vastly over rated, hugely over priced and lack technique, mental strength, tactical nous and discipline.

    All I can do now is hope that Liverpool do not buy anymore of the mediocre English players we are been linked with (Downing, A Young, Dann etc).

    If you want success, value and the quality, buy players from off these shores.

  • Comment number 24.

    Nice to see "King" Kenny building Newcastle Mark II. Lots of money spent, general decline results.

  • Comment number 25.

    #7 - wasn't seamus coleman bought 2-3 seasons ago. I seem to recall he played for Blackpool for the whole 2009-10 season

  • Comment number 26.

    You could spend a billion on academies it offers no guarantees. United brought through Scholes, Giggs, Beckham, Butt, Nevilles when their investment in that side of the club was a fraction of what it is since the introduction of the academy system.

    If it was honestly that simple everybody would be doing it.

    The reason these lads are expensive is there aren't enough of them. If Kenny can't Henderson which other premier league standard English midfielder of a similar age can he go and realisticly buy. Likewise Fergie and Jones.

  • Comment number 27.

    And people wonder why there are so many foreigners in the Premiership. These are astronomical prices, they may have potential but the reality is you can go abroad and buy players with the same potential for a tenth of the price.

  • Comment number 28.

    Jones is a brilliant signing for United, fully worth £16m, but Henderson hasn't proved to me at least that his transfer fee is justified...Liverpool are spending silly money, they need a better negotiator/chief scout...

    The next two big transfers as far as young players go will be Connor Wickham and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. I for one hope neither go to Arsenal after Walcott's struggle to find first team football there...

  • Comment number 29.

    I agree with MyVoiceinYrHead, the timing of these signings might be telling us something. They've got in early for a reason.

    On the subject of Seamus Coleman (I thought it wa s150,000), Sligo should have played the same hardball as Everton did with Lescott.

  • Comment number 30.

    @28. Liverpool's spending belies their utter desperation. Raging against the dying of the light, an old hero returns in a doomed attempt to recapture lost glories. Pitiful. Hope they knock Wenger down to 5th next season tho ;-)

  • Comment number 31.

    #5 I very rarely have a go at Phil on these articles as it annoys me a lot of the unfounded criticism he gets, but this was a case where it was too much. Surely if they are the future of English football, that would include the national team? Otherwise he isn't the future of English football, just his team, barring possible appearances in the Champions League which are a sort of representation of English footie. Maybe have a think about the connotations of a sentence before being so unbelievably condescending?

    #21 I do agree the fees have a large part to play but that has really inflated in the last few years. English players have always had a premium but that has gone through the roof recently. I think the biggest thing is the vicious loop of expectation and hyperbole between the fans and the media, we end up thinking we have a right to win things when in actuality we are years behind the leading football nations. We have a strong league but the national team suffers as we bring in many foreign players who aren't as good as many of the British players in the lower leagues. I'm all for having quality foreign players in the league but sometimes we take it too far. We would do well to take a lead from the Germans who found themselves in a similar situation around 10 years ago and now have a system that, once financial fairplay comes in, will see them return to being real contenders for the strongest league in Europe as well as having a national team capable of winning tournaments.

  • Comment number 32.

    @30. Totally agree. They are spending money just to try and cling to the illusion that they are still a big club. They have a 'big history' but other than that...
    And I must say I'd rather see Spurs knock Wenger into 5th...Redknapp's done a cracking job there - it'll be interesting to see how well he can hang on to his best players this summer...

  • Comment number 33.

    by 2014 wickham and chamberlain will be back in the championship or warming seats in a mid table prem team.

  • Comment number 34.

    @32. Fair enough - I forgot about Spurs (doesn't everyone?)

  • Comment number 35.

    Coleman was signed as a right back a few seasons ago.

    He went to Blackpool and played RB for them for the 09-10 season.

    It was David Moyes who moved him to RM this season.

    He was a promising teenage defender when we bought him, nowhere near the player he is now. He's still not the finished article.

    We tend to pay less for players, as it's known we don't have a huge transfer kitty that can be bargained with.

  • Comment number 36.

    On Henderson costing £20m pounds this is what Damien Comolli (Liverpool's football director had to say)

    "On the fee, I've read and heard a lot of things. There was a lot of speculation on how much we would pay for Jordan and none of the figures I've seen are correct so far. We've paid a price that we are comfortable with, otherwise we would not have done the deal."

    And N'gog has been given permission to speak to Sunderland, so please do some research before making blogs such as this.

  • Comment number 37.

    @29.At 14:22 10th Jun 2011, Drooper_ wrote:
    thought it wa s150,000
    Yes it was just read up , sorry , £150k , still a bargain .

  • Comment number 38.

    At least liverpool are spending money to improve their team. 12 months ago liverpool were signing konchesky and poulsen. 9 months they were nearly bankrupt. and its 16 million pounds for henderson not 20.

  • Comment number 39.

    Ngog that penalty box predator that Torres was playing for a place against.

    Why on earth are Sunderland trying to sign him - he's not very good really is he

  • Comment number 40.

    The money for english players does seem very high, if Henderson and Jones had played well for 2 seasons in the PL then fair enough, they've both had one fairly good season and are now worth £36m between them!!

    If two unproven English players are worth that then Fabregas must be worth at least £100m.

    As for Liverpools spending i think this is about right;

    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 41.

    Agree with post 10, I think both players have jumped ship too early, why not keep on developing at clubs where you are gunna constantly play games in the premier league,

    As an Arsenal fan i'd have to agree with post 28, I still dont see how Walcott has developed that much, to me he looks out of his depth on the wing for Arsenal & England most of the time unless he's playing against weak opposition, One problem for him though I must admit is the fact Arsenal try to pass the ball in the net all the time, rather than utilizing Walcott's best asset which is his pace with fast counter attacks

  • Comment number 42.

    @ No. 10

    Agree with most of what you say.

    Nearly jumped out my seat in support of your very last point. It would be a great idea and very exciting for the future if teams were to invest a 1/4 of these vast sums of money on academies, local centres to fund teams and nurture young talent.

    The obvious example of this is Barcelona, Which in my opionion is what every team should be aiming towards.....!!

  • Comment number 43.

    @peter lidell seamus coleman cost everton £60,000 not £900,000. so an even better deal than you thought! an excellent season and the first i hope of many for him

  • Comment number 44.

    i know i will probly get slated for this but 20million for a guy who looked completely out of his depth for england, is absolutely crazy money. if he's 20million the wilshire is 50 million. i honestly think liverpool are tryin a policy for the future, but 20million for an average energetic englaish player, is crazy. all u here when u here about him is energy and eye for a pass, but i dnt see him in that top assist maker lists last season. as for a young frank lampard?. are u crazy, he scored about 3 goals all season. i hope he does ok as he is a player who appears to work really hard and wants to improve, but if ur askin me if he's way over priced, then i would say yeah. as for jones, 16 million for a defender who is constantly compared to the best defenders in the country, appears to be the better peice of business. There was about 3 or 4 top top clubs after him, and only liverpool after henderson, which says alot. i might be wrong so we'll see.

  • Comment number 45.

    @38. yes - good point. Signing young players, and ticking over nicely is a model a medium sized club like Liverpool should stick to. There are an awful lot of profitable well-run clubs that never get into debt trouble and never win anything. Arsenal in the PL, and many more down the leagues. It's fan-pressure which causes the build up of pressure on crazy debt and unsustainable wages/transfer expenditure. Fans want success, but there's only so many trophies to go around. Clubs actually want to survive, and investors/owners want to see a return. FACTs of life, I'm afraid. This is why Liverpool's owners were not keep to keep Kenny, because he will only stoke the unreasonable expectations of a largely un-educated fan-base.

  • Comment number 46.

    In view of the report on football finances this week, the fees and the salaries paid to these players are both absurd and untenable. Very few other sports have a meat market for players based on payment of fees running into multiple millions, but the fuel for this explosion is (a) TV money, and (b) agents. Frankly football has too much money to play with now, and it has ruined the game by attracting money-grubbing middlemen who add no value whatsoever. If FIFA had one ounce of integrity, it would be working to simplify the transfer system and cut costs without going back to the days of the £100 maximum wage.

  • Comment number 47.

    you are buying two 20 year old, ENGLISH players who play regularly in the premier league. obviously you are going to pay a lot for them. its not like you are paying 50 million pounds for a 26 year old, oh wait Chelsea did that and everyone commended that deal. you either want the English national team to prosper or not, big clubs signing the best players is one of the ways the national team will improve.

  • Comment number 48.

    The fact that the two teams with money, Chelsea and Man C, weren't even the least bit interested even at these so called 'cheap' prices tells you more about McNull and the BBC's ridiculous bias than it does about the quality of these signings.

    Long gone are the days of Man U breaking transfers records with regular 30mil plus bids for the likes of Ferdinand, Rooney, Berbatov etc. Nowadays Man U have to be satified with bargain basement buys like this one, Bebe, Valencia etc.
    Same with Liverpool, a shadow of their former selves, why is this buy even in a blog? It's a potentially mid table player transferring to a mid size club. Who cares?

  • Comment number 49.

    @35 and 37

    Therein lies the beauty of Davie Moyes as a manager. He and his team can spot players who will shine in their system. Cahill, Lescott, Jagielka, Pienaar, and Pienaar are all fine examples of players who have developed into International class players since joining Everton.

    Moyesie is good for this type of player, good for Everton and Everton are good for him.

    If he went to another club, he'd struggle as he does not do well with larger amounts. Beattie, Johnson, Yakubu, Kroldrup, Bilyaletdinov are examples of his marquee signings and all have somewhat failed.

  • Comment number 50.

    As much as i rate Jones and Henderson, the prices are a total joke. Both should not have gone for over 10 mil. It's even more shocking when you compare the amount Thiago Silva was bought for as well as Nuri Shahin even though he only had one year left on his contract. How could you have half the talent but be worth double the price?

  • Comment number 51.

    A lot of money for average players unproven at the highest level. The prices for English players are totally ridiculous. Its little wonder the rest of Europe won't touch English players with a barge pole. They pay twice the money they would for a player of equal quality from anywhere else in the world.

  • Comment number 52.

    i really dont think henderson is worth 20 million, as for jones, 16 million is a great piece of business for a great young player, my question is how much will he play next season? i would like him to play alot but with vidic and rio in defence then it is going to be difficult to nudge them, also you have smalling and evans there, to be quite frank i couldnt care for evans, he could leave on a free and i wouldnt mind! but i think jones will find it tough, many people will disagree with me but hey, everyones entitled to there own opinion! but then we come to henderson, 20 million is such a huge price for a player who i dont think quite hacks it, like before, many people will disagree! i mean lets be honest, for 20 million, liverpool could of fixed there defence up by signing dann and a decent left/right back, i mean king kenny obviously knows what he is doing and i wish him, the club and henderson well and i fully expect them to finish in the top 4 next season with a few more signings, and this is coming from a utd fan :)

  • Comment number 53.

    Everyone is complaining about the price of Jones... though I don't think anyone has read the reason why he was so much...
    Read the article again people and then you will see that he was brought for that much due to a release clause in his contract.
    Stop going off on one because -

    a. Your team didn't manage to purchase a defender that you need
    b. You feel that it is too expensive for what you deem to be an 'over-rated' player
    c. He's English, therefore he requires slating

    As for Jordan Henderson - he is probably going to be worth more that £20m by the end of next season. Being at Sunderland has helped him, granted he fell off the boil after his England appearance - but no-one has the fitness levels to play for a mid-table (no offence Sunderland) Premiership team constantly and keep the same levels of fitness up.
    Granted, in other top leagues (Spain, Germany, Holland, et al) he would already be deemed a miracle and a success beyond words because in those countries there is no need for a midfielder to do as much running.
    We aren't a technically gifted league, we are a fast-paced one, therefore he is a good signing and a steal for £20million.

  • Comment number 54.

    I think Jones is a great bit of business at 16 million, especially with the new homegrown rules in the Champions League and with the amount of games Rio can play rapidly declining. Smalling isn't quite ready to step up yet, whereas Jones has proven himself this year and can come in and do a job immediately if required. Can't help but feel sorry for Jonny Evans though as he looks to be a good player too and has seemingly been demoted. An embarassment of riches at the back for United! Sir Alex's latest assembly job looks to be well under way.

    Can't help but feel that Sunderland have been the winners with Henderson though. He's a reasonable talent for sure, but he still has a long way to go. If anyone can get the best out of players though, it's King Kenny.

  • Comment number 55.

    At 14:49 10th Jun 2011, Back To Back Champs In 06 wrote:

    The fact that the two teams with money, Chelsea and Man C, weren't even the least bit interested even at these so called 'cheap' prices tells you more about McNull and the BBC's ridiculous bias than it does about the quality of these signings.

    Long gone are the days of Man U breaking transfers records with regular 30mil plus bids for the likes of Ferdinand, Rooney, Berbatov etc. Nowadays Man U have to be satified with bargain basement buys like this one, Bebe, Valencia etc.


    Haha. You're a clown mate.

    It's well documented that ALL of the top 5 - yes that includes Chelsea and City - were interested in Jones, hence United's swift action and the high price they paid.

    For the record, Rooney was £25m.

    Also, in what sense is Valencia a 'bargain basement buy'? He cost £18m. OF course, if it's a supposed lack of quality you're referring to, I seem to remember he terrorised your 'World's Best Leftback' (TM) when they last met.

  • Comment number 56.

    @10's post is an exercise in wishful thinking. It would be great if this happened, but it will not, I'm afraid. Clubs are independent and are their own masters in a competitive environment. The way to save English football has to be to ban competitive 11-a-side full-pitch matches before the age of 16. Too many ignorant shouty-dads on the touchline. Too many win-at-all-costs youth coaches. Too little concentration on skills. Who cares if your under 9s side loses 10-1 to a bunch of super-fit tacklers if the one goal was scored by the next Messi after a piece of breathtaking dribbling brilliance? Plus the FA could actually deliver this change by simple decree. Free the kids from the tyranny of results!!!! (Oh look, I haven't had a go at Liverpool in this post. Liverpool suck!!)

  • Comment number 57.

    Football can not be sustained like this anymore. It has totally become a money obsessed, self controlled and greedy disgrace.

    Phil, I've disagreed with your artciles in the past but I'm starting to realise your commenting on a sport where the wheels are falling off. You blogs cover transfers of players who clearly aren't worth anything like the money being paid for them and your desperately trying to find hope in their possible future talents.

    I'm going for a different sport until football sorts itself out.

    Good luck Phil!

  • Comment number 58.


    Bitter much?!

    Would you rather we spent £50 million on a man who scored ONE goal last year?! Or £50 million on Ballotelli and Dzecko?! Get real. Yes the Jones and Henderson prices are inflated, thats the nature of the beast, but look at what you do with your young English talent. Sturridge? Sinclair? Are they relly no better than Kalou? Sort your own issues out before getting involved in ours.

  • Comment number 59.

    Signing young players is the sign of a medium sized club. One of the most absurd comments I've seen on here.

    On the point about the fees, they are high but are the current market value. It is all relative and it is not just the English game. There have been huge fees for players bought for years in England, Spain, Italy and to a lesser extent Bayern Munich.

    It is a risk on young players who are still developing but ultimately can be more beneficial than buying an older established player. Time will tell for both clubs whether they are successful. I for one hope they both are as it will help the national team.

  • Comment number 60.

    An embarassment of riches at the back for United! Sir Alex's latest assembly job looks to be well under way.

    Your gunna need a lot more than just defenders to knock Barca off their perch though, seems Sneider wont be coming either so who should Utd sign to address the fact that they couldn't keep the ball for more than 10 seconds against Barca ?

  • Comment number 61.

    If it wasnt for foreign players in the EPL then it would be a very average league. The money in modern day football is obscene and completely ridiculous and its not going to be long before it all blows up altogether. I for one cannot wait for this to happen to bring football back to the working folks who made football what it is and not have so many greedy footballers who see football as owing them something and taking the fans for granted whereas it should be a privilege to play in front of thousands of fans every week, not a chore. A little bit of respect goes a long way in football, see Roberto Martinez.

  • Comment number 62.

    @60 How about selling the Amazing Posession Consession Machine back to Tottenham?

  • Comment number 63.

    Just wait and watch . Spain's Xavi Martinez, Mata, Thiago Alcantara, Iker Muniain will make these 'talents' look like 3rd division commodities. And again it'll be proved how insanely over hyped EPL players are.

  • Comment number 64.

    As a Liverpool fan I'm really concerned with the signing of Henderson for such a huge fee. He isn't worth £20M, and Andy Carroll isn't worth £35M. We could have signed much better players for much less money if we shopped abroad. Foreign players won't have been a bigger gamble as neither Henderson nor Carroll are proven Premiership quality. Nor will Henderson or Carroll take Liverpool to the next level. Commoli is gambling big time with these type of signings.
    We've spent huge sums of money on just 2 players and there has to be some concern regarding the finances of the club. Are FSG borrowing money to fund these transfers? The last thing Liverpool need is more debt.

  • Comment number 65.

    At 14:13 10th Jun 2011, peter liddell wrote:

    thanks murray
    its robbery!!!!!!!!!!!!
    while we are on the subject..........
    chester sold a player whose name i forget to ipswich for buttons
    they were entitled to 20% of any future sale
    he was duly sold to stoke for £5m
    the £1m would have saved chester going into administration
    ipswich hung on til chester had folded & trousered the £1m
    forgive me if i dont feel too sorry for the tractor boys current soory plight
    esp as norwich are in the premiership

    Jonathan Walters is the player you're thinking of.He signed a contract extension with us to keep him at the club until 2011/12 in 2008.He was also the club captain.More importantly,he put in a transfer request in the summer of 2010 which resulted in him joining Stoke for £2.75m.

    Hardly waiting for Chester to fold.

    Get your facts straight first.

  • Comment number 66.

    Agree with vavahume, Walcott's chief asset is his pace on counter attacks, from which he can be deadly, but if his team are dominating possession with the opposition lying deep, the play becomes very static, and as we saw against Switzerland he can look not like a footballer.

    HMMurdoch, Everton might be struggling on the financial front, but I'm sure they could have coughed up substantially more than the 60,000 or whatever it was that they did. If they'd signed him from the Continent, it might have been over the million mark. Sligo undersold themselves big time. That would barely cover the booze up at their AGM. For a club that hardly ever produces moneyspinning players, they've missed a big opportunity to invest in the club.

  • Comment number 67.

    David Villa - World Cup, European Championship, Champions League, La Liga Winner


    Andy Caroll - Championship Winner



  • Comment number 68.

    Big thumbs up to Ferguson & Dalglish, its big money to spend on such raw talent, these are the type of english players that need to be playing at the big prem league clubs, only then can England think of competing seriously in the World cups& Euro`s, Chelsea &Arsenal take note ! !

  • Comment number 69.

    Ignorant people have been harping at the 35 mill Carroll costs Liverpool. Many times have been said that Carroll was the emergency replacement for Torres - a minimum of 15 mill difference to the amount being paid to Torres. When Torres was sold at 50 mill, Liverpool were willing to fork out a max of 35 mill for Carroll. They could have paid less but Newcastle insisted. Due to the last minute nature of Torres's sale, Liverpool will be left with one less striker if the Carroll deal is not pushed through at 35 mill.

  • Comment number 70.

    Its good to see the EPL big boys invest in 2 big money bench warmers.

    Another 2 careers ruined!

  • Comment number 71.

    In separate news Wilshere has been chased by Man Citys oil rich sheikh, he is cited as saying "in todays climate £45 billion pounds is a great investment for our future" before raising ticket prices to ensure only Liam Gallagher can afford them.

  • Comment number 72.

    @67 see post #30

  • Comment number 73.

    @67 see post 30 for your explanation

  • Comment number 74.

    Henderson and Jones' pricetags are entirely the reason that clubs look to foreign talent. Lets be fair, does anyone actually think Henderson is anything more than a £7m player at most? Nasri was £11m and is about 3 times the talent of Henderson. Jones is a prospect and given the right training will become one of the best centre halves around.

    However, the only reason that Man Utd and Liverpool are buying british is because of this quota system now in place in the EPL (that and their academies are not producing any talent.....Gibson and Spearing anyone?)

  • Comment number 75.

    Sorry but sooner rather than later this league is going to implode. Once the clubs lose their sugar daddies them its barney rubble for The Premiership just like the banks a few years ago. The transfer money and wages are not sustainable. I don't know where these clubs get their business and finance managers from ... maybe from The Apprentice!

  • Comment number 76.

    I think Liverpool, would have been ideally suitable for Phil Jones considering how thin and depleted, we are defensively, and a player of Jordan Henderson's rich calibre and promise would have been spectacularly delivered at Old Trafford when you consider that United have a weak midfield, I say this because Carrick, Anderson, Fletcher and Park Ji Sung are not richly talented, relying more on sheer industry than footballing skill.

    Nevertheless, it's a good transfer signing, what remains in question is where Henderson can operate and be utilised to maximum effect. I can't see Gerrard, Kuyt or Lucas being displaced, but Gerrard's lack of fitness and injury vulnerability is a rising concern. I can see Kuyt perhaps shifted into the left wing to accomedate Henderson onto the right (Meireles and Rodriguez bench) perhaps or partnerning Suarez and Carrol in a 4-3-3 formation with Gerrard sitting ahead of Henderson and Lucas.

    Liverpool should consider signing Bojan (forward) and Jeferren (winger) if they can.

    Either way, I think we shouldn't sell N'Gog until we have an impeccable replacement for him, not that it will be considerably difficult when you factor in the lack of goals supplied by N'Gog.
    Defence is Liverpool's priority, we need decent left-backs such as Maxwell and Clichy and decent centre-halves (Phil Jones would have been ideal) for example Ryan Shawcross, James Tomkins, Raul Albiol or...well you get the idea.

    Sell Joe Cole (£5-7m), N'Gog (£5m), Poulsen (£2m), Koncheskey (£2m), Kyriagos (£3m) and consider offloading Glen Jonhson if he doesn't improve.

  • Comment number 77.

    Absolutely crazy. Why are English players always completely overpriced? Just because they are English doesn't mean they are worth more than players from other countries. David Bently 17M, Phil Jones 16M, Andy Carroll 35M and Henderson 20M to name a few. If i was a manager I'd primarily buy foreign. They are better value for money and usually better players. I cannot wait for the day when the premier league falls apart due to greed and over spending. No companies in the world would be allowed to operate the way the Premier league teams operate. Players wages are insane, ticket prices and merchandise are complete overpriced.

  • Comment number 78.

    Not surprised to see commoli (or however it is spelt) over spending in the transfer market...seem to remember he did that at spurs!!! afraid neither carroll or henderson are worth the money spent..henderson went missing on his ONE international which shows he will be unable to cope if Liverpool reach champions league, and that is a big IF and liked the post comparing carroll to de silva...enough said

  • Comment number 79.

    Phil Jones will be worth every penny of what Utd have paid for me. I remember seeing him on his debut against us and he was phenomenal. He's without doubt England's best young prospect (aside from Wilshere) and a player i can see really going to the top. I'm just disappointed Chelsea were nowhere to be seen in the race for his signature.

    Henderson on the other hand is another matter entirely. Not convinced by the lad at all and i think this could be another case of over-hyped, unjustified English optimism. I hope i'm proved wrong of course but i really don't see anything in him at all to suggest he's worth the Liverpool shirt or the 20m they paid for him. Still, i'm no Kenny Dalglish so we'l have to wait and see i suppose.

    Goodluck to them both!

  • Comment number 80.

    #67 - You've obviously not sussed out the currency in football. £Premiership10m equates to about £1m in any other league. Hence, Villa is £34m and Carroll is £Prem35m - or £3.5m in the real world. This 10x factor easily explains why players from other leagues are apparently bargains. So, from now on, when you see "£10m for future Premiership star" remember the 10x factor. You might even call it the "pie from the Sky" factor. Naturally, there is a Championship factor as well but it's not quite as high as 10x; probably around 7.5-8 is nearer the mark.

  • Comment number 81.

    Agree with vavahume, Walcott's chief asset is his pace on counter attacks, from which he can be deadly, but if his team are dominating possession with the opposition lying deep, the play becomes very static, and as we saw against Switzerland he can look not like a footballer.

    I do not get the Walcott bashing at all. Is he the best player in the world ... no, but a quick look around shows 13 goals plus 10 assists in 38 games of an injury ridden campaign .... Bale by comparison scored 11 in 42.

    Now I am not saying he is great, but he's hardly bad .... when he is fit he starts for Arsenal and England and when he is on form he is difficult to stop. Ask Messi and Pep G how good he can be.

    As for the topic of the day, I can understand ManU buying Jones. He is not going to be a first team regular which should take the pressure off and is a bit of a gamble which could or could not come off (albeit an expensive one). If Wenger had signed him for Arsenal, everyone would be criticizing him for buying yet another unproven youngster.

    As for Pool, I just cannot get my head around what is going on there ... yes, Kenny had that yeaaaahhhh factor when he came in, but results against Spurs and Villa showed that they are far from a force to be feared.

    Suarez was an excellent purchase (after Vermaelen's success it amazing me that Ajax are not raided more often) but Caroll for 35 m was the worst deal in history and now to spend 20m on Henderson defies belief. If he has come from Udinese and was Bolivian, people would state it is crazy business. I can see Liverpool wobbling financially very soon. Maybe I'll be wrong, but can the signing of Henderson really improve Liverpool THAT much?

    BTW way fans ... please take Clichy from us, if you give us the reported 5 million, better. Shame he isn't British, you'd be paying 20...

    Just heard that ManU have agreed a deal with A Young, trophy staying at OT next year then.

    Depressed Gooner.

  • Comment number 82.

    Personally i feel that jones, henderson and carroll are worth it for the fact that they can fulfill the requirements of the quota system and probably get into the top 15 of their teams if not the first 11. and they are only 19, 20 and 21. three plays who can play for you for atleast 10 years.

  • Comment number 83.

    Your gunna need a lot more than just defenders to knock Barca off their perch though, seems Sneider wont be coming either so who should Utd sign to address the fact that they couldn't keep the ball for more than 10 seconds against Barca ?


    United can't sign anyone that will help them keep the ball against Barca. No one at the moment can live with them but since they play in a different league they're not too much of a concern for me. Real Madrid need to figure that out more than us.

  • Comment number 84.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 85.

    Players transfer fees are based on numerous different factors such as age, ability, length of contract, financial position of selling club/buying club, time of year, time left of the transfer window etc. You can't just compare two players bought for similar transfer fees.

  • Comment number 86.

    all you did was quote people.. thanks phil

  • Comment number 87.

    80.At 15:28 10th Jun 2011, JohnnyTwoRivers wrote:

    73.At 15:21 10th Jun 2011, Alf wrote:

    Amen brothers, on the subject of overpriced, overhyped English players destined to flop has anyone heard from Glen Johnson lately???

    He was much better with dreadlocks, i think they gave him special powers.

  • Comment number 88.

    @69.At 15:18 10th Jun 2011, shamistication wrote
    Liverpool were still less one striker at the end of the transfer deadline . Carroll was injured . He made his debut 5 weeks later .

    Alan Shearer was asked did he think Carroll was worth said no player was worth that money , even he himself for £15m was not worth it .

    How can these prices be justified? How much value can these players bring to a club ? £60m is what you will get if you win the PL , so by my reckoning Carroll + £25m of other players = Champions. But it doesnt and this is the inflated value of football that the fans have to pay for . Cant wait for the rules for spending to come in for CL places , 4 academy players minimum +4 non academy players maximum +17 others whose transfer fees wages and bonuses wont put you in debt , work that with £20m -£30m players on £5m a year!!!

  • Comment number 89.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 90.

    #81, chongmaster, no more bashing of Walcott than yours of Carroll, Henderson and Clichy. Personal opinion.

  • Comment number 91.

    Surely, most of the talk about these players is just platitudes and good luck wishes from people that know them.

    Transfer prices? That's largely based on the fact that middle tier clubs in this country aren't quite as at the mercy of bigger clubs as middle tier clubs on the continent and therefore can demand bigger sums safe in the knowledge that the bigger club has the money and that the selling club doesn't 'need' the money as much.

    As for the players themselves, well, it's way too early to be sure of what they'll be. I would say though, Phil Jones to Man U to be 5th choice defender, one assumes? If it was Man City (or Chelsea in recent years) buying this player there would be screams of how this player would be wasted, sitting on the bench rather than developing, top club hoovering up all the talent, one club buying to prevent another buying etc etc etc (I refer you to SWP to Chelsea by way of comparison.) Why is there that comment attached to these transfers?

    I wish the players well, but, as I write this, is it really good for the English league that such large sums are paid so easily and that emerging talent can be so easily taken from a mid tier club to a big club.

    I have my reservations about these but it's too early to know how this will pan out.

    p.s. on a side note, I think interest in the U-21's has never been as high as it is now and nor have we been as optimistic about the future as we have now. Let's hope it's not hype, let's hope it's well founded and let's hope they do well.

  • Comment number 92.

    2 promising English footballers with limited experience and a long way to go. The only way this can be deemed good business is if they are on relatively low wages. With the life expectancy of a prem manager at about 15mths only the likes of Fergie and maybe Kenny, Wenger etc can go this route. The rest will be lucky to still be in a job by the time any of these 2 are first team regulars.

  • Comment number 93.

    It's nothing new paying a lot for young british talent. An unproven Alan Sherer sold for a record from Southampton to Blackburn Roy Keane brought from forest to Man U. Ferguson and Dalglish are two of the best football managers in the world. I think they know how good the majority of players would be in their squad. It is also better than Chelsea's buy a player a few years before their retirement atitude.

  • Comment number 94.

    Suarez and Carroll for Torres and Babel is what it equates to, Torres' fee was always going to be Andy Caroll +£15 million, that is how it was worked. I would take Luis and Andy every time.

  • Comment number 95.

    Football is in a sad state if average players like Henderson are being bought for the reported £20m. Seriously what has he shown to make people think he is even worth a quarter of that price?

    Ramsey before his injury looked by far the better player and cost a paltry £6m

    What shocked me more than the £20m though was his wages of £60k a week. Absolute crazy!!!!

  • Comment number 96.

    And I thought Benitez spent some big money on duff signings but Dalglish is something else

  • Comment number 97.

    Even as a Liverpool supporter £20m for Henderson is way too much for a lad with much to prove. Likewise £16m for Jones to sit on the bench at Utd is way too much and personally Smalling is a better prospect anyway.

  • Comment number 98.


    '5th choice'? It won't be as simple as that.

    Based on the recent displays of both, he'll be ahead of Evans in the pecking order. That makes '4th choice'. Then factor in Ferdinand's injury susceptibility = it's more than likely that for half the season he'll be '3rd choice', ie one place away from the starting lineup.

    Also remember that many of his games for B'burn last season were at holding-mid, an area in which Utd are evidently deficient at the moment.

    Then consider the number of FA Cup, League Cup and CL games Utd are likely to play, and the rotation it will necessitate, and it seems churlish simply to brand him as 'fifth choice'.

  • Comment number 99.

    So much pressure on these youngsters already!

    It's not hard to understand why english talent isn't flurishing like it used to when silly money like this is exchanging hands for such young players.

  • Comment number 100.

    82.At 15:30 10th Jun 2011, deep wrote:
    Personally i feel that jones, henderson and carroll are worth it for the fact that they can fulfill the requirements of the quota system and probably get into the top 15 of their teams if not the first 11. and they are only 19, 20 and 21. three plays who can play for you for atleast 10 years.


    Does this always work out though??

    What happens when one of them has a terrible injury, loses interest or just never realises their potential?

    As an example i'm sure Liverpool thought they had bought Englands RB for the next 10 years in Glen Johnson, however he may end being sold for peanuts in 2 seasons.

    Ferguson and Wenger are the only true observers of quality with the occasional blip and the blips are usually "established" players like Veron and Reyes not the youngsters.

    Liverpool seem to have produced some great young players over the years like Owen and Gerrard but frankly the youth they have bought in have been awful.


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