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English football clubs are ruining English talent

Tuesday 23rd May 2017
For years, if not decades, English football fans have been crying out for the next Gary Lineker or (sober) Paul Gascoigne. Premier League title contenders spend millions on their academies, ostensibly to discover the next big English talent. When they do, expectations explode, bringing pressure on club and player alike.

Such pressure made it easier for Liverpool to sell Raheem Sterling to Manchester City for £49 million. Now, Everton looks increasingly likely to cash in on Ross Barkley, valued by Goodison Park at £50 million. With all due respect, these players are very talented but let's not get carried away.

Sterling has only just turned 20. Despite his undoubted talent, the former QPR man obviously has much to learn. Which is only natural at his age.

Barkley's case also involves a player with unquestioned talent but inconsistent play. Similar to Sterling's last season at Anfield, negotiations for a new deal have dragged out interminably. Barkley has been in and out of the lineup. Ronald Koeman's deadline for him to sign has passed. Will the club blink or move on?
Tottenham were rumoured to be interested but have understandably been put off by the £50 million price tag. Former Spurs player, Gylfi Sigurdsson, likely ready to part ways with Swansea, has similar ability to Barkley, coupled with greater consistency, experience, and maturity. Spurs have allegedly closed a deal for his return at half Barkley's valuation.

Why such disparity? Is English talent over-hyped? If so, how can its best players command such huge transfer fees?

Manchester City, United, and Chelsea have the financial resources to buy players in the £50 million price bracket. Spurs, with the greatest respect, don't. Instead, the North Londoners have made their names developing young English talent into superstars. Players such as Dele Alli, Kyle Walker, and Eric Dier come to mind.

If Spurs were still a selling club, and, for the sake of their growth, one hopes they aren't, then developing and selling on players like Alli, who cost a bargain £5 million from MK Dons, would be crucial to their economy. Under Daniel Levy's careful stewardship, however, Spurs no longer need peddle their prized England assets. Yet, as the club discovered with Welsh sensation, Gareth Bale, if a player doesn't want to stay, there's nothing anyone can do.

More teams need to follow the Tottenham business model. Buy low, then, only if absolutely necessary, sell high. Alli has flourished after receiving good tutelage, quite easily becoming one of the best English players at this moment. Players like Barkley and Sterling haven't necessarily experienced guidance of the same quality, yet they still bring in astronomical and, if you ask me, unjustified fees.
Sunderland goalkeeper Jordan Pickford is another example. The former Bradford loanee has been perhaps the lone bright spot in the Black Cat's season. On the back of that good season, Sunderland want £30 million for the 23-year-old keeper, £11 million more than Manchester United paid for David DeGea, already a Europa League winner with Atletico Madrid when Sir Alex Ferguson bought him in 2011.

Relegated, Sunderland can't necessarily hold out for an unrealistic transfer fee. The Mackems require cash to rebuild into a squad that can immediately return to the Premier League. Yet, if one is patient, sides who have already invested heavily in foreign players still appear willing to pay inflated prices for English talent can help them meet homegrown quotas for the Premier League. De Gea is again rumoured to be heading back to Madrid in the summer. David Moyes may be tempted to wait and see whether United come calling.

It's for silly reasons like this the English game is in a poor state, nor seems likely to improve anytime soon.
Ayyaz Malik

Hi guys, I am Ayyaz. I type by day and I type by night, I type what others are thinking. I eat, drink and sleep football (I think in that order) . Watching football is part of my five a day. They say money makes the world go round, yeah right we all know it's football that makes the world go round. I am a Manchester United fan for my sins.

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