It has long been established that transfer fees regarding English players is in a world of its own.
Liverpool bought Andy Carroll for £36m from Newcastle in January 2011. Six months later, Manchester City signed Sergio Aguero for £38m from Atletico Madrid.
In 2017, Chelsea completed the £35m signing of Leicester midfielder Danny Drinkwater, the same summer Liverpool bought Mohamed Salah for £36.9m.
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The list could go on, but could the summer of 2019 prove to be the window where this gulf became even more obscene and absurd?
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Following Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s £50m move from Crystal Palace to Manchester United, the club are looking to land England centre-back Harry Maguire from Leicester City.
Figures upwards of £90m have been placed on Maguire’s head, although £80m is reportedly Leicester’s asking price after he told manager Brendan Rodgers he wants to leave the club.
It is a fee which has reportedly put Manchester City off, but United still appear to be considering their options ahead of the August 8 deadline.
Should Maguire move for £80m, he would not only become the most expensive defender in history, but he would also go for £12m more than Dutch defender Matthijs de Ligt, who signed a five-year deal with Juventus on Thursday.
That is Maguire, a 26-year-old Leicester defender with a Nations League third-place medal, potentially costing more than De Ligt, who at 19 steered Ajax to a league and cup double and the Champions League semi-finals, having also won the Golden Boy award in 2018.
Leicester cannot be faulted for playing hardball in the transfer market. Previous moves involving English players means the club are entitled to adjust their asking price likewise - ‘Well if John Stones went for £47.5m three years ago…’ and so on - while the Foxes can also be cunning because they know they are dealing with a team desperate to reinvigorate their squad, and one that would appear – as shown with Wan-Bissaka – willing to pay over the odds to buy their desired targets.
And this is arguably what has inflated the market for English players. Smaller Premier League clubs holding out knowing the bigger Premier League clubs can afford to go a little higher, and higher, and higher. Why not?
Most expensive transfers involving English players
- £53m - Kyle Walker – Tottenham to Man City
- £50m - Aaron Wan-Bissaka – Crystal Palace to Man Utd
- £49m - Raheem Sterling – Liverpool to Man City
- £47.5m - John Stones – Everton to Man City
- £35m - Danny Drinkwater – Leicester to Chelsea
- £35m - Andy Carroll – Newcastle to Liverpool
The pressure that comes with such a move is also huge. De Ligt will know there are big things expected of him at Juventus in their bid for Champions League glory, but it is Maguire that looks set to head into the new season as the most expensive defender.
Not only will Maguire’s exploits be equated with De Ligt’s, but in trumping the £75m Liverpool spent on Virgil van Dijk, the comparisons will inevitably be made with the Dutchman who was so inspirational in guiding Liverpool to the Champions League and second in the Premier League.
De Ligt and Van Dijk
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There will therefore be great expectations should Maguire join a United side who conceded more Premier League goals last season than the other top-nine clubs, while this burden will also fall heavy on Wan-Bissaka. The '£130m duo', as they could well be tagged in newspapers this season, tasked with transforming United’s back four and boosting their top-four credentials.
It is an unfair weight to put on their shoulders, but they are simply the unfortunate victims of a market which long lost all control.
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