Lots of people talk about the inflation of British players, that they’re basically no value for the money, but is this an exaggeration? Or, because of a few players who have been very good value for money, does it make some transfers worse than others?
To find out the answer to this matter, I will compare some of the bigger fees spent on player, or asking prices of British players, with foreign players, who have moved for the same amount of money.
First off, lets take a look at Jordan Henderson and Joe Allen both player having signed for Liverpool, for a fee in the region of £15m. I compared these transfer with Cesc Fabregas and Luka Modric, Fabregas having of course joined Barcelona previously, with Modric due to join Real Madrid soon. With both these players of course costing more money.
So, lets take a look at the stats!
As you would expect, Fabregas and Modric take most of the ‘prizes’. However, I don’t think there’s that much difference in the Modric and Henderson stats, which is interesting. They’re close in chances created and minutes per chance created, as well as having the same chance conversion. In fact, the only thing that lets Henderson down vs Modric is his pass completion. However, there could be reasons for this. Modric is typically deployed as a deep-lying playmaker, for Tottenham, who move the ball around quite well, whereas Henderson spent some time on the right and centre in his time at Sunderland, where they played a more direct style of football, compared to Spurs. In comparison, Henderson’s passing completion this year was 80%, an improvement by 5%, which is higher than Fabregas’ in his last season at Arsenal. Not bad at all, especially as he is still young and can develop.
What about Joe Allen? The youngster Liverpool recently splashed £15M on. Well, he doesn’t show himself well here, in my opinion. I think he’s a slightly different type of player to the others, in the way he’s more conservative. He isn’t usually the player with the killer passes, he’s the distributor, he links it together, makes the team tick.You can see his credentials, and why Liverpool would want to sign him. He’s 21, yet has great composure on the ball, he really understands the value of possession. Someone made a good point about him on Twitter recently that if he played how he did, had these stats and was Spanish or Brazilian, everyone would be raving about him. I think he has a point, if a Barcelona youngster, had such good passing stats, you probably would hear ‘the next Xavi’ be knocked around from time to time…
Are they worth the money? It’s hard to answer. If you say yes, you get the common argument, which is “but ‘Team A’ got ‘Player X’ for ‘£Y Amount’ and he’s better/did better than him”. But then, they’re still young, they can still develop, and they do have ability. £15M? I’m not sure. But they will surely offer a lot to Liverpool, this season and in the years to come.
Next, we’re looking at wingers. For the British players, I chose Matt Jarvis and Stewart Downing. Matt Jarvis has recently handed in a transfer request, Wolves value the English winger at £10M, and Stewart Downing, I’m sure you’re aware, moved to Liverpool for £20M last season. I decided to compare them to Juan Mata, who had a great first season at Chelsea, and Samir Nasri, in his last season for Arsenal, before moving for around £24M.
This sample is pretty mixed. Mata dominated heavily when it came to creating chances, Nasri when it came to dribbling, Jarvis for accuracy/final ball and then Downing is just in and around there. I think, a big shock is Matt Jarvis, I am not just saying this because I am a Wolves fan, but he really did have a great season. If you need further convincing, this is also his stats vs Walcott, which I had created earlier.
His chances created stats are great, as well as his accuracy/conversion stats. He has a good final ball, as well as good yard of pace, which isn’t always the case. If he had a better set of players around him, his assists and goals would also most likely be higher, as better players would be there to finish off the chances and he’d also get better service. Wolves want £10M for him, people are saying it’s crazy money. I understand why, but if you look at the stats, he does almost offer the same as Walcott, minus the pace. I’m not saying he is as good, but last season for Wolves, who finished bottom, he managed to get pretty much just as good stats.
You can also see why Liverpool wanted Downing, as he created so many chances for Aston Villa in his final season. However, he couldn’t carry that form through to Liverpool.
So, again, they may not be worth the £10M/£20M, but there isn’t a huge gap in value like everyone is making out, if you look at how they did, with their teams. It is pointing towards being exaggerated, but it’s tough. It’s hard to decide and explain.
Anyway, lets now look at Strikers and the much talked about Steven Fletcher. I’ve compared him with three strikers you could say play fairly similar and we’re all bought for a fee in the region of £25 million pounds.
So yes, Adebayor, Balotelli and Dzeko. They are all quite a bit better than him in anything, but you have to think, two of these played for the Champions and one for a team that finished fourth. He isn’t that far behind. He can win his fair share of headers and is fairly clinical in front of goal, but it could get better. I haven’t got the stats for clear-cut chances, but as a stab in the dark, it may be because at Wolves he gets less clear chances, and more just half-chances than the top teams.
So, is there a £10M difference in Fletcher and these players? I don’t know. Is Fletcher worth £15M? Probably not.
So, is the inflation of British players exaggerated? Partly. I think, it is slightly exaggerated, as if you look here, there’s not a huge difference between the players. I don’t think it’s the fact they’re British though. I think it’s also because of the selling team not wanting to lose their key players and hottest prospects, if you look at the players Liverpool signed, hey were all key to their old sides. So they did what everyone does on Football Manager, when they don’t want to sell someone, ask for a huge amount of money, but Liverpool actually paid it. Newcastle didn’t want to lose Carroll, Villa – Downing, Sunderland – Henderson, and if they did, they would have wanted to be heavily compensated. It’s the same situation with Wolves now, with them asking for ‘crazy money’ for Fletcher and Jarvis, their two star players. They’re standing firm and trying to put teams off them, but then if teams do pay up, they’ll have more than enough to replace them with. It’s a win-win. Unless you keep an unhappy player against their will, but that’s a completely different matter…
The bigger footballing countries will have more expensive players, if you had two upcoming talents, exactly the same ability, one was Brazilian and one was a more obscure country, like Latvia, the Brazilian would be more expensive, when they’re both up and coming. It’s the same kind of situation.
Finally, is the inflation exaggerated? I think so yes, but I do think that they are too expensive, and if you look further afield, you’ll find a lot more value. But the problem is finding value for money in an inflated market is very challenging…
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All stats from EPL Index