And just like that, the transfer insanity ratchets up another couple of notches, as twelve hours after news broke that Liverpool had signed Jordan Henderson it became clear that the other highly regarded Engalnd u21 player making the rumour rounds was heading off to sort his medical and finalise terms with a club. Only despite rumours as recently as yesterday that he'd be joining Henderson at Liverpool, Blackburn center back Phil Jones will be heading to Manchester United instead...
* Jones was reportedly Liverpool's top defensive target, with rumours of an immanent deal in the £12M dollar range, but at the last second United swooped in and offered the full £16M release clause that was inserted into a new contract he signed in March. All the reports suggest that, in the end, it was Jones who chose United over Liverpool and not that it was a case of Liverpool being unwilling or able to match United's outlay.
As pointed out by Nate at Oh You Beauty, whether or not you're entirely sold on the apparent plan to snap up the best and brightest homegrown talent—or whether you're of the opinion that Britain's got talent at all—is one thing, but it seems quite clear that this time around there's a push to capture the most highly regarded players at an age when they can still be developed over the next few years to fully integrate into any system Liverpool might attempt to install. You may not fully agree with the direction, but at least it seems clear in cases such as Henderson and Jones that the club isn't going after English talent for the sake of going after English talent—or for the sake of satisfying some of the more xenophobic corners of the London media. Losing out on Jones, apparently at the last second after all signs pointed to a Liverpool move, is a blow to that plan. Losing him to United makes it even worse. It will be interesting to see where Dalglish and Comolli head for plan B.
* Speaking of transfers, young English talent, gargantuan fees, and all the rest, Paul Tomkins' transfer index site has an interesting article that takes a look at the English premium over the years and how it compares to the overall inflation rate of the market. The long and the short of it is that, matched to the rest of the market, valuations like £16M for Phil Jones and £20M for Jordan Henderson aren't out of line with the historical premiums paid for young English talent relative to average transfer costs at the time. Whether this makes the massive English premium any more sensible is another question entirely, but the argument raised is that at least the current premiums aren't any more a rip-off/bit of extortion/bout of highway robbery than they were in the past:
Way out on their own at the top and the only players more then £40m CTPP are:
* Shaun Wright Phillips whose move to Chelsea in 05/06 for a scarcely believable £21m translates to £48.8m CTPP
* Michael Carrick whose £18.6m in 06/07 translates to £41.2m
....Finally, one topical valuation to finish on is Ashley Young. His 06/07 switch to Villa for £9.65m coverts to £21.4m. With only 12 months left on his contract and a fee of no more than £15m likely, in real terms Villa could find themselves considerably out of pocket.
Well, there you go. And CTTP stands for "Current Transfer Purchase Price," in case that wasn't fairly clear from context. Again, whether that makes it right for Liverpool to pay the kind of fees that are being demanded is an entirely valid question, but based on market inflation they may not in fact be completely out of line with the inflated fees for English talent in the past.
* Moving quickly away from transfers and fees to the largely secondary internationals taking place this week, Reina didn't play for Spain as they defeated Venezuela 3-0 last night. Xabi Alonso did score with a perfectly struck free kick from distance, but on the whole it was a sleepy Spanish side that waltzed past an overmatched Venezuela a few days after their fired-up performance against the United States.
Elsewhere, Lucas was rested for most of Brazil's home friendly against Romania, coming on for the final fifteen minutes of a match that was almost entirely about sending off Ronaldo, with the legend marking his retirement by making a final appearance for his country. It was later revealed that—as expected—Lucas would be part of Brazil's 22-man Copa America squad, one of three largely holding midfielders along with Chelsea's Ramires and Tottenham's Sandro. Based on every Brazil match before last night's since Menezes brought Lucas back into the national team fold, one would expect Lucas as the deepest holding midfielder with Ramires in a slightly more advanced position in the forthcoming competition.
Finaly, the most promising international of the week—at least if you want to see a Liverpool player or two actually do something—has Kuyt and the Dutch traveling to face Suarez and Uruguay at 7:30 GMT/2:30 EST today1.
Well, that about does it for these Wednesday news and notes. If you haven't seen it already, I've made a guest appearance over at Surreal Football as the Liverpool representative in their ongoing look at left backs. It's titled Alan Kennedy: Not Completely Shit. And it's not completely shit, if I do say so myself. Back around these parts, Ed's got you covered for the next few days, but in the meantime here's a bit of Ronaldo to pass the time...
1And as usual we'll be twittering about anything interesting that happens in the match, forwarding the occasional tidbit of news, and talking about transfer possibilities and why we hate everything.