The 20 most expensive uncapped English players
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These are the 20 most expensive players who were uncapped when they made their big move…
20) Lloyd Kelly (Bristol City to Bournemouth, £13m)
The England Under-21 full-back became in the space of a year for little Bournemouth, who apparently fended off interest from Liverpool and Arsenal for the Bristol City academy graduate.
“I genuinely think he’ll play for England at senior level,” said Bristol City boss Lee Johnson at the time. Could still be right, of course – Kelly is still only 21 – but finally getting his chance during Project Restart after an injury-ruined maiden top-flight season and promptly being part of a defence that shipped 10 goals in three games is sub-optimal.
19) Matt Targett (Southampton to Aston Villa, £14m)
We’re guessing somewhat on the figure because no one seems to have a clue how much Villa paid for the left-back. Some reports say it’s £11.5million rising to £16million, others suggest it’s £14million up front, with another £3million in add-ons.
Regardless, the 24-year-old didn’t come cheap for Villa, although what would in the final reckoning prove an almost incalculably valuable 94th-minute winner against Brighton in October probably pays off that transfer fee (whatever it actually was) in itself.
15=) Jordon Ibe (Liverpool to Bournemouth, £15m)
“It was a tough one but I needed to think what was best for me, which is playing, and when you scale it up, Liverpool and Bournemouth are fighting for the same things,” Ibe told The Times in 2016 in an interview which has not stood the test of time at all well. “Liverpool are not in the Europa League so would it really make a difference? And I would have more chances to play at Bournemouth than Liverpool so it doesn’t really matter.”
Four years later, Ibe has a grand total of four Premier League goals and is currently clubless after his Bournemouth deal expired. Liverpool are faring rather better…
15=) Sam Clucas (Hull City to Swansea City, £15m)
The Swans signed Clucas for an eye-watering figure without really having an idea of where they might play him. The former Mansfield, Chesterfield and Hull utility player was a victim of his own versatility to a certain extent but justification of his fee was barely evident in his performances – unless Arsenal were the opponents – during one miserable season at the Liberty Stadium.
Upon relegation, it seemed like Clucas might stay in the Premier League with a move to Burnley on the cards until the Clarets refused to budge over personal terms. Swansea eventually clawed back £6million of their investment when Stoke took the 28-year-old off their hands. Has now reestablished himself as a regular starter in the Potters midfield.
15=) Ben Gibson (Middlesbrough to Burnley, £15m)
We’re busy and lazy, so we’ll just lift directly from the we’ve just finished, if that’s okay: ‘In two seasons he has started precisely one Premier League game – a 5-1 defeat to Everton – and been on the bench for a further 34. He has not been required on any of those 34 occasions. He has two years left on his contract.’
15=) Che Adams (Birmingham to Southampton, £15m)
After Targett had been bundled off the Ralph Express at New Street, Saints immediately got Adams on board after failing to pick up the Birmingham striker in January.
The Ralph Express rolls on!
Welcome aboard, @CheAdams_! #saintsfc pic.twitter.com/FcE8duLkfd
— Southampton FC (@SouthamptonFC) July 1, 2019
The centre-forward caught Hasenhuttl’s eye with 22 goals in the Championship but hadn’t scored a league goal for the Saints before the rona struck. Project Restart was a different matter altogether, though: Adams netted the winner against Manchester City and followed that up with three more goals in the last two games of the season as Southampton finished the campaign on a seven-match unbeaten run.
14) Calum Chambers (Southampton to Arsenal, £16m)
Last year we wrote here that ‘half a decade after the then-19-year-old joined Arsenal, we still don’t know if he fits into the Gunners’ plans. Probably not.’ Still not really any the wiser, to be honest.
Still, moving to Arsenal was enough to earn Chambers an England cap – three in fact – under Roy Hodgson. Three years after his senior debut, Chambers was playing for the Under-21s at the 2017 Euros.
13) Ademola Lookman (Everton to RB Leipzig, £16.2m)
Finally got his permanent move to Leipzig a year after a productive six-month loan spell brought five goals and convinced Lookman his future lay away from Goodison Park. The permanent move has not yet gone quite so well, despite Leipzig’s success. Lookman has made only sporadic Bundesliga appearances – failing to add to the goal tally from his loan move – and making just one appearance in that thrilling run to the Champions League semi-final.
With England honours looking as far away as ever, Lookman admits he could consider turning instead to Nigeria, his parents’ homeland, although England remains his first choice. “I’ve not changed my mind but I’m open and it’s good to have different opportunities,” he told last year.
12) Harry Maguire (Hull City to Leicester City, £17m)
It seemed steep at the time but by the time the Foxes cashed in on the now-very-much-capped Maguire they made a five-fold return on that very shrewd investment.
And Leicester then spent most of the season looking like they might before completely and spectacularly bollocksing it up. Elsewhere, Maguire mainly did fine at United.
11) Jarrod Bowen (Hull to West Ham, £18m)
A fascinating one this, because all the early evidence is inexplicably pointing to this actually turning out quite well despite the involvement of such wide-ranging inevitable-transfer-doom-triggering factors as ‘English’, ‘uncapped’, ‘large transfer fee’ and ‘West Ham’.
Frankly, it’s nothing short of a miracle and testament to Bowen’s quality and we’re already thrilled/bored senseless by next year’s summer-long links with Tottenham and West Ham’s steadfast refusal to countenance such a thing.
9=) Aaron Ramsdale (Bournemouth to Sheffield United, £18.5m)
Three-and-a-half years after leaving Sheffield for Bournemouth, he’s back at Bramall Lane and with a price tag only about £17.5m higher than the one he left with.
Statistically, only Kepa and Jordan Pickford had worse 2019/20 Premier League seasons in nets than Ramsdale, but in his defence he was playing without one. Still seems an eye-watering sum of money for a relegated goalkeeper, no matter how well he Knows The Club, and has some pretty massive gloves to fill as Dean Henderson heads back to Manchester.
9=) Andre Gray (Burnley to Watford, £18.5m)
‘If you want a striker to score some – but not many – goals against bad defences but look worrying blunt against other sides, Gray’s your man. For £18.5m.’ upon the striker’s big move to Watford in 2017.
Gray scored five in his first season at Vicarage Road, seven in his second, and two as the Hornets went down last season. We’re having that.
8) Alfie Mawson (Swansea to Fulham, £20m)
The centre-back was considered something of a bargain when the Cottagers won the race for a 24-year-old who four months previously had been called up by Gareth Southgate without getting on the pitch against Italy. But like the rest of his Fulham team-mates, Mawson had a stinking 2018-19.
Injuries offer the former Barnsley and Swansea defender some mitigation, but with another knee injury cutting short his involvement in Fulham’s ultimately successful Championship season, doubts must grow about whether he will ever be able to return to his highest level.
6=) Tyrone Mings (Bournemouth to Aston Villa, £20m)
Villa tried before they… buyed?… with Mings and were adamant they’d got a bargain at £20m for a player Bournemouth weren’t really any longer that arsed about. Twelve months on, Aston Villa and Mings are still in the Premier League and Bournemouth aren’t so I guess that makes them completely right because all things must be absolute with no shade of grey.
Also now has not one but two England caps. Checkmate.
6=) Adam Webster (Bristol City to Brighton, £20m)
Having initially forgot all about him when compiling this list, we were disappointed to discover that he is not in fact Scottish despite being the sort of player who quite often does turn out to be Scottish. Is Chichester definitely not in Scotland? No? Well, we’d best stick him in, then.
Does seem a mad amount of money for a club like Brighton to be spending on a defender from Bristol City, especially when you then make the poor bastard make his debut away at Manchester City. Once that 4-0 baptism of fire was out of the way, though, Webster established himself as a perfectly decent member of the Brighton team, so that’s nice. Also chipped in with a few goals, most memorably in a 2-1 win at Arsenal.
5) James Maddison (Norwich to Leicester, £22.5m)
Leicester are pretty good at this. Maddison might not fetch quite as much as Maguire but having signed a new four-year contract the attacking midfielder would still earn the Foxes a tidy profit if and when they showed any desire to cash in despite his 2019/20 numbers being slightly down on his 2018/19 excellence.
Maddison’s 2019/20 form mirrored that of his club, with the last of his Premier League goals coming on New Year’s Day, and he was sorely missed during the collapse in the home straight: Leicester amassed just seven points in the final six games which Maddison missed with a hip injury.
And he’s got his England cap now, having been allowed a half-hour cameo in a 7-0 twatting of Montenegro.
4) Jude Bellingham (Birmingham to Borussia Dortmund, £23.85m)
The latest bright young thing to swap the drudgery of England for the promised land of the Bundesliga and Dortmund. Has already broken all manner of records: youngest ever Birmingham player, youngest ever Birmingham goalscorer, youngest player ever to have their shirt number retired, and so forth.
Also set the record for the highest transfer fee ever paid for a 17-year-old when rejecting Manchester United’s advances to head for Germany. How many eyes are now on him? All. All eyes.
3) Ryan Sessegnon (Fulham to Tottenham, £24.3m)
Been a tricky couple of years for Sessegnon, who has been the Next Big Thing for absolutely ages now and is still only 20. Struggled, understandably, in a dreadful Fulham side and then finally got his long-touted move to Spurs at the back end of the transfer window while injured. By the time he was fully fit, the inspirational manager who had signed him had gone and Jose Mourinho had come in.
While a thriker against all-conquering Bayern Munich on his first Champions League start was an undoubted high point, it was also pretty much the only high point. Hasn’t been seen anywhere other than a subs’ bench since the FA Cup fourth-round replay against Southampton all the way back in the Before Times.
2) Jordan Pickford (Sunderland to Everton, £25m)
Everton’s record signing had yet to win a senior cap when Everton made him their record signing in 2017. Three years later, he has 24 of them but is no longer looking quite as secure in his position as England No. 1 as he did 12 months ago.
His bad 2019/20 coincided with eye-catchingly good ones for Nick Pope and Dean Henderson, and the year’s delay to the Euros leaves his hold on the gloves looking decidedly shaky. Big year coming up for him, you’d imagine.
1) Aaron Wan-Bissaka (Crystal Palace to Manchester United, £50m)
Here comes Wan-Bissaka, blowing everyone out of the water with his big move to Old Trafford last summer.
When a young player moves to United or any big club, a first cap rarely follows far behind. But Wan-Bissaka has a lot of competition for the right-back spot in Gareth Southgate’s senior squad, and that first cap remains elusive for a player whose old-fashioned defensive charms are still somewhat divisive given the fee paid and the all-conquering title-winning full-back marauders down the road at Liverpool.
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