Connor Wickham (£9m)
‘Sunderland sign Connor Wickham from Ipswich Town as Liverpool miss out again on summer transfer target,’ reads the headline to a Daily Telegraph article in summer 2011. For those at Anfield, the wounds are still sore.
Sunderland parted with £8.1m to sign the striker, with the deal potentially rising to £12m. Wickham had scored only 15 goals in 72 games for Championship Ipswich, but had cultivated a reputation as one of the country’s best young forwards.
Is it a damning indictment on the English game (and a mere reflection of inflation) that, when the 23-year-old managed to outdo his previous record by scoring 15 goals in 91 games at the Stadium of Light, he also added a further £1m to his valuation. Crystal Palace’s interest had been piqued sufficiently by summer 2015 to purchase him for a fee widely reported as ‘rising to £9m with add-ons’. It is safe to assume said add-ons have not been met, and yet Wickham stands as the fifth-most expensive uncapped English player ever*.
James Tomkins (£10m)
The most recent addition to this list, after swapping his place as utility man at seventh-placed West Ham for a presumably more comfortable role next to Scott Dann at Crystal Palace, eight places below. Tomkins is just as uncapped for England as his new central defensive partner.
Steven Caulker (relegated twice), Michael Dawson (slower than a loaded truck reversing in quicksand) and Carl Jenkinson (Carl Jenkinson) have all received national recognition in the past five years, but not Tomkins. The 27-year-old has been a loyal servant at Upton Park for the past eight years, making more than 20 appearances in each of the past seven seasons. His versatility as an adept centre-half and defensive midfielder also swings in his favour, as well as caps at six different England youth levels. And who can possibly forget his two appearances for Great Britain at the 2012 Olympic Games?
But no, Tomkins will arrive at Palace as a £10m signing, and be greeted by the sh*t-eating grin of England international and new teammate Martin Kelly.
Dwight Gayle (£10m)
Dwight Gayle is the strangest-looking 25-year-old adult male you have ever seen; his face tells me child, but his piercing eyes and oft-greying, oft-not hair speaks of untold but harrowing life experiences.
He is also a footballer who has commanded fees of £15m over his last three moves. In their relentless quest to win the Championship by December, Newcastle parted with £10m for a striker who scored 15 goals in 63 Premier League games at Selhurst Park. Still, when the list of players to earn an England cap since 2010 includes Ryan Mason, Jake Livermore, Matt Jarvis and Fraizer Campbell, Gayle must be wondering what he has done wrong.
Nathan Redmond (£10m)
By this time next year, Nathan Redmond may have earned an opportunity to remove himself from this list. The 22-year-old was one of few shining lights for Norwich last season, and it seemed inevitable that he would return to the Premier League sooner than many of his Carrow Road cohorts. So it came to pass, as Southampton parted with £10m to sign the former Birmingham man, making him the second-most expensive English player never to be handed an international cap. Only five players have made more appearances for the under-21 side than Redmond; only two of that quintet have made the step up to the senior squad. Let’s hope he is less Michael Mancienne and more James Milner. Then again…
Patrick Roberts (£12m)
‘Who are the six likely new England caps?‘ asked Daniel Storey last month, as he nursed a broken heart due to the failure of the national team at Euro 2016. Among the answers were Premier League winner Demarai Gray, a Burnley defender pursued by the champions and two West Ham stars (not Mark Noble).
Numerous contenders were discussed. Jesse Lingard was mentioned, as was James Ward-Prowse. What about Jamaal Lascelles or Joe Gomez? Or Saido Berahino? When Josh Onomah was suggested, we all agreed to go our separate ways.
I advocated the inclusion Patrick Roberts. It was a joke initially, but I slowly convinced myself that it could happen. A talented 19-year-old under the supervision of one Brendan Rodgers, away from the spotlight of Premier League football in Scotland, and with the challenge of the Champions League awaiting him? I was content as I slipped into a deep slumber that night.
Of course, Roberts is far from the England set-up. But the winger is a national-team regular at various age groups, has (albeit limited) Premier League experience and, when signed by Manchester City for £12m from Fulham in summer 2015, became the most expensive uncapped player the country has produced. If Steve Cook deserved a mention, so did he.
* Until someone proves us wrong in the comments.