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Paying the price: Massive fees for England’s young pros

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With just under a month to go before the July transfer window officially opens again for yet another ferocious flurry of transfer activity, two of the most eye-catching moves of the summer may have already taken place.

Last Thursday, Sunderland’s impressive England Under-21 international midfielder Jordan Henderson swapped Wearside for a crack at the title with Kenny Dalglish’s Liverpool for the 2011-12 season. Not only was the move significant considering the 20 year old only made his league debut with the Black Cats in 2009, but more so for the expensive reported fee of some £20 million the Reds paid to prize the young talent away from the team that guided his first steps into football.

The move yet again highlighted the ever-increasing culture of sky-high transfer fees for luring England’s top prospects. With barely a week since Henderson’s move materialised, North West rivals Manchester United have also picked up one of the aspiring England Under-21 Internationals in Blackburn’s Phil Jones, who too is currently away on International duty in Denmark for UEFA’s Under 21 Championship Finals. Similarly Jones’ move valued at a reported £17 million seems extortionate considering the Lancastrian only made his first-team debut in a Carling Cup tie at Nottingham Forest’s City Ground in September 2009.

But in an ever-frantic and frenzied Premier League, maybe it is a sign of the times that to achieve success you either put up or shut up, and the North West’s two leading clubs have wasted no time in securing what are undoubtedly two of England’s best International prospects. You just can’t help feeling that the escalated transfer fees of both Henderson and Jones are extortionate considering what £20 million could buy you only a few seasons ago. Yet again, England players are highlighted for their costly worth in the transfer landscape of football’s ins and outs.

In 2001, at that time, it took a staggering £45.7 million for Real Madrid to steal away French icon and legend Zinedine Zidane from Juventus signaling the height of the Galactico era in the Spanish capital. Some 10 years on, Henderson and Jones’ fees represent almost half of what Los Blancos paid the Italian club for the services of a player who had achieved so much in the prime of his career and who went on to win FIFA World Player of the Year twice both in 2000 whilst with the Bianconeri and again in 2003 in that Real Madrid side that illuminated European football so greatly.

The point is that transfer fees are certainly not what they were, and perhaps English clubs have distorted views behind how much their top talents are truly worth. It has not been long since football fans gasped in January at the astronomical £35 million; Liverpool paid Newcastle for the assets of distinguishable forward Andy Carroll. Maybe, we value our talents too much and over-emphasise their achievements considering the national team hasn’t realised success on the international stage for some 40 plus years unlike those hailing so enviously from the Iberian peninsula with their tippy tappy style and jaw dropping 25 pass unchallenged advances up and down football pitches across Europe; Barcelona FC, I think they’re known as.

But seriously, if we are to examine the most exciting of England’s young international’s in Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere; if Manchester City are to try a pointless bid considering Arsenal will not be letting go of Cesc Fabregas’ natural successor this summer, surely it would take a total of some £30 million plus to lure away the Hertfordshire born youngster. In the 2010-11 season the 19 year old played over 30 games for the Gunners and impressively completed 93.5% of passes against midfield messiah’s Xavi and Andres Iniesta in that encapsulating victory against Barcelona in the first-leg of their Champions League tie at the Emirates Stadium.

High fees for England’s top pros are here to stay. Perhaps this is why one Arsene Wenger refuses to engage in attracting the country’s top talents to the capital. I’m sure the Gunners would benefit from some midfield steel in West Ham linchpin Scott Parker who would surely add some bite to Arsenal’s ailing title challenges if signed.

All shall be revealed in an intriguing, yet another exaggerated and expensive window whereby even Arsenal have dipped their toe into the transfer market early by signing Charlton’s Finland Under-19 international Carl Jenkinson, who is still eligible to represent England; the country of his birth via his English father.

The first two major youngsters have been signed for a lot of money – there will be more to come.

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