Liverpool and Man United splash the cash on English talent
It's a welcome change to see two of England's biggest clubs putting their faith in home-grown prospects
The decision by Liverpool and Manchester United to invest heavily in Jordan Henderson and Phil Jones makes for a refreshing change.
Two of the biggest clubs in the Premier League, putting their faith in and building their futures around English talent.
Henderson swapped the Stadium of Light for Anfield last week in a deal reported to be worth up to £20m for Sunderland.
The 20-year-old England U21 international was only behind Kevin Davies and Florent Malouda in the number of chances created in the Premier League last season. He made 78 opportunities for his Sunderland team-mates last term – a stat which will excite Liverpool’s new-look offensive line of Andy Carroll and Luis SuÃƒÂ¡rez.
The size of the fee paid for him, however, sparked a few sharp intakes of breath. Yes, Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish may have paid over the odds for Henderson -the so-called ‘English premium’ -but it is a welcome contrast to transfer strategies of former regimes at Anfield which have proven unfruitful of late.
Former Liverpool boss Rafael BenÃƒÂtez splashed out £20m on Alberto Aquilani, but the Italian midfielder struggled with injuries and was subsequently loaned to Juventus.
Even Raul Meireles, who cost £10.7m from Porto, did not produce his best form until after Christmas.
Henderson has the experience of two full seasons in the Premier League under his belt. He should prove a worthwhile investment for the Reds.
Meanwhile, Manchester United were forced to accelerate their bid to secure Blackburn Rovers’ defender Phil Jones with Arsenal and Liverpool making firm offers for the England U21 international.
United, who originally wanted to offer cash plus players for Jones, were forced to table £16.5m to beat off the competition – even if the deal is not yet set in stone.
The 19-year-old looks set to become the second most expensive teenager in Britain when he completes his eventual move away from Ewood Park.
But that is a burden that former Rovers striker Kevin Gallacher feels Jones will cope with. “I think he’s underpriced to be honest,” Gallacher told BBC Sport. “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.”
And both Dalglish and Sir Alex Ferguson look set to continue their recruitment drive of the best prospects that England has to offer. Ipswich Town’s Connor Wickham and Aston Villa’s Stewart Downing are both targets for Liverpool, while Ferguson is on the verge of snapping up Ashley Young.
It was about time, as Trevor Brooking said last season, that some of the country’s biggest clubs put their futures in the hands of English talent again.