The Passport Premium – British Player Fees
In a week of crazy on-field and off-pitch antics in Brazil, other extreme events were taking place back in Britain slightly under the radar.
An 18-year-old with 60 appearances in top-flight football became the fourth most expensive defender ever when Luke Shaw left Southampton to sign for Manchester United. Eyebrows have been raised at the premium paid for the English left-back with a fee possibly reaching £32 million. So, is there a premium for English players?
The enormity of Shaw’s fee is highlighted by the fact that Atletico Madrid’s starting line-up in their 3:1 win over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge cost EVEN LESS than Shaw’s potential fee. The eventual finalist’s team totaled £29.5 million, albeit with several loan transfers and Bosman signings.
While keeper Thibaut Courtois was on loan from their opponents, the likes of Koke, Manchester United target Miranda, Tiago and Adrian Lopez all either came up through the youth ranks or signed on frees. Chelsea-bound Diego Costa cost a bargain £1.5 million from Real Valladolid while Juanfran joined from Osasuna for just £3.2 million.
The Uruguayan goal-scoring defender Diego Godin landed for a bargain £6.5 million, while Arda Turan and Filipe Luis cost £9.8 milllion and £8.6 million respectively.
The league champions Manchester Ciy have taken quite the hit on English players in recent years, the prime example being the recently departed Joleon Lescott.
The central defender signed acrimoniously from Everton for £22 million in 2009 but left on a free transfer to West Brom earlier this month. A year earlier they got considerably better bang for their buck, shelling out just £6 million to Hamburg for Vincent Kompany.
The world-class Belgian captain has become a mainstay of the City defence while Lescott’s status at the Etihad was reduced to a squad player following Manuel Pellegrini and, subsequently, Martin Demichillis’ arrivals.
With Champions League squads under pressure to include a quota of homegrown players, often the price paid for English players is borne more of this requirement than a true value.
The likes of Jack Rodwell and Scott Sinclair would surely have cost City a lot less had they been born outside of England, indeed it is unlikely they’d have been of interest to the champions without their English passports.
Southampton and their flourishing youth academy have been one of the main beneficiaries of this English premium. Their conveyor belt has churned out Shaw, Wayne Bridge, Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in recent years with Adam Lallana also poised for a £25 million move to Liverpool.
They’ve been able to re-invest the proceeds from these sales into their youth system and bargain foreign signings with potentially high re-sale values.
They spent £8.5 million, or a third of a Lallana, on Croatian centre-back Dejan Lovren last summer who has already been linked with a move to Liverpool and Arsenal for at least double that amount.
With Shaw and Lallana’s deals being amongst the largest transfers already this summer, it’s clear that top Premier League clubs will continue to stockpile young English talent irrespective of price. While Andy Carroll’s true value is obviously not greater than even a banned Luis Suarez, it’s evident that there is a price to pay for adhering to UEFA guidelines.