We brought you the most expensive uncapped England players last month, so what about the Premier League as a whole..?
5) Isaac Success (Watford) – £12.5m
The weirdest of all the summer transfers, until you realise that Watford’s new signing came from Granada, a club owned by their own owners (stop saying ‘own’ all the time) until flogged to China in June. The Pozzos may have paid a high price for Success, but if you were to choose a club to receive the funds from Watford’s record purchase, Granada and Udinese would be on the tip of your tongue.
Success is 20 years old. He scored six goals in 30 appearances for Granada last season, but have we really seen enough to merit dropping £12.5m on a player yet to be even called up to Nigeria’s full squad? Alex Iwobi is four months younger than Success and has played six times for Nigeria.
This is a list of forwards called up by Nigeria in the last 12 months: Iwobi, Kelechi Iheanacho, Ahmed Musa, Brown Ideye, Victor Moses, Moses Simon, Odion Ighalo, Aaron Samuel, Aminu Umar, Chisom Chikatara, Prince Aggrey, Ezekiel Bassey, Bright Onyedikachi, Godwin Obaje, Fanando Adi, Obafemi Martins, Emmanuel Emenike, Anthony Ujah, Emem Eduok, Gbolahan Salami, Tunde Adeniji.
Twenty-one players, and no Success. Hmmm.
4) Nampalys Mendy (Leicester) – £13m
In the summer of 2015, Leicester signed a 24-year-old uncapped French central midfielder from Ligue Un, and things worked out pretty well. Claudio Ranieri might have described how Leicester were “crying” after the sale of N’Golo Kante, but Mendy has been made official tissue monitor, tasked with wiping away the tears.
However, Mendy is almost certainly set to suffer by comparison. In the Premier League last season, Kante made 5.2 tackles and 4.6 interceptions per 90 minutes. In Ligue Un, Mendy made 1.7 tackles and 2.2 interceptions per 90 minutes. While Kante is happier running around to combat arson more effectively than six fire engines, Mendy is a passing central midfielder. Those expecting a like-for-like replacement will be disappointed.
3) Jordon Ibe (Bournemouth) – £15m
“We have always traditionally brought in young talent, moulded them and worked with them and made them better. I am really excited by the group we have: it’s young, it’s dynamic and there’s a lot of potential for players to get better” – Eddie Howe.
Howe is right of course, but the difference with Ibe is that Bournemouth smashed their transfer record to sign him. Last month we drew up a list of the most expensive uncapped English players, but Ibe would now top the pile.
Still, if Jamie Redknapp is to be believed it’ll all turn out fine: “I think he has more natural ability than Raheem Sterling. Anything Raheem Sterling struggles with, Jordon Ibe can do. I would hate to play against him with his pace and power.”
Sure Jamie, which is presumably why Sterling had 77 league starts before leaving Liverpool at the age of 20, and Ibe just 19. Remember that you’re allowed to leave Liverpool…but only if they don’t want you.
2) Giannelli Imbula (Stoke City) – £18.3m
With Congolese parents, being born in Belgium but representing France at Under-21 level, Imbula has the opportunity to represent three countries at international level. Stoke’s record signing has opted for Belgium, meaning he faces a tough time to break onto the international stage.
There is no doubt that Imbula is a talented midfielder, but Mark Hughes will look to see more from his £18.3m man given a full pre-season in England. He might also look to change Stoke’s formation, given Joe Allen’s arrival.
Hints of that came from Hughes himself, in February: “He’s a defensive midfielder and he’s got a lot of attributes in terms of understanding that role, but he can play in a three as well. I like that flexibility in players because it gives me more options.”
1) Ander Herrera (Manchester United) – £28.9m
There is no doubt that Manchester United overpaid for Herrera; they walked into transfer negotiations with a big badge that read ‘we really want to sign Ander Herrera’. Athletic Bilbao eventually got £28.9m for a 23-year-old midfielder who was yet to be called up by Spain. The idea was that that would change very quickly.
It hasn’t. Herrera turns 27 next month and is yet to even receive a call-up to a Spain senior squad. In truth, he’s not even close, instead left fighting for his Manchester United future under a new manager who has plenty of central midfield options and is desperately hoping for another.
Of course Spain have an excellent crop of midfielders but, for balance, here are a list of those called up in midfield in the last 12 months: Sergio Busquets, Andres Iniesta, Koke, Cesc Fabregas, Thiago Alcantara, Bruno, David Silva, Isco, Saul Niguez, Mikel, Pablo Fornals, Marco Asensio, Denis Suarez, Juan Mata, Sergi Roberto, Santi Cazorla and Vitolo. For a Manchester United player that cost nearly £30m not to make that list should be a cause for great concern for club and player.