The seven most expensive uncapped England players

Date published: Saturday 17th June 2017 2:30

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 seventh-most expensive uncapped English player ever*.


James Tomkins (£10m)
James Tomkins swapped 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, last summer. Tomkins is just as uncapped for England as his 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 arrived at Palace as a £10m signing, and was greeted by the sh*t-eating grin of England international and new teammate Martin Kelly.


Dwight Gayle (£10m)
Dwight Gayle is the strangest-looking 27-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. His record of 23 goals in 32 games for the Magpies is pretty strong, mind. When the list of players to earn an England cap since 2010 includes Ryan Mason, Matt Jarvis and Fraizer Campbell, Gayle must be wondering what he has done wrong.


Patrick Roberts (£12m)
Who are the six likely new England caps?‘ asked Daniel Storey in the summer of 2016, as he nursed a broken heart due to the failure of the national team at Euro 2016. To his credit, he got Michael Keane, Aaron Cresswell and Nathan Redmond right.

Numerous other 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 who developed under the supervision of one Brendan Rodgers away from the spotlight of Premier League football in Scotland? Now wanted by the mighty Huddersfield?

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 and Champions League experience and, when signed by Manchester City for £12m from Fulham in summer 2015, became the most expensive uncapped player the country had produced at the time.


Jordon Ibe (£15m)
“At that age you have to play. They had the possibility to do that [with Bournemouth] and they were deals that absolutely made sense for both sides. We will watch them, they will have pressure there, they will fight for the league or whatever, and we will see them growing up in pressure situations. That’s perfect.

“Now Smith and Ibe are there and we have buy-back clauses. Hopefully they do really well and then in the end we and them will decide.”

Not sure you’ll need those buy-back clauses, Jurgen.


Harry Maguire (£17m)
Then the summer of 2017 happened, and he was relegated to bronze-medal placing. Former Premier League champions Leicester swooped to sign Harry Maguire from Hull on Thursday; the Tigers had purchased him for £2.5m in summer 2014.

Many will question the fee placed on Maguire’s burly shoulders. This, after all, is a player with just one cap at England youth level – for the U21s in 2012 – and he featured 29 times as Hull slipped into the Championship. There were many more factors as to why Hull could lay claim to having the most porous defence in the top flight last season, conceding 80 goals, and while Maguire is at the bottom of that list, he is still on it.

But then you remember that Leicester’s current centre-half pairing is Wes Morgan and Robert Huth, two physically dominant, powerful players who are capable of winning headers against any opponent, and you realise that Maguire will win the Premier League with them next season.


Jordan Pickford (£25m)
Unfortunately for Maguire, he did not spend any time boasting the illustrious moniker of ‘most expensive uncapped Englishman ever’. That honour was bestowed upon Jordan Pickford mere minutes before.

Pickford will soon earn his way off this list but, as of the time of writing, the 23-year-old has no senior England caps. He has five for the U16s, 17 for the U17s, 3 for the U18s, 8 for the U19s, 3 for the U20s and 10 for the U21s, but he has been asked to play with the older kids just once, and even then didn’t get a minute.

Before the Sunderland keeper had even signed on the dotted line to move to Goodison Park, the £25m fee involved in bringing him to Merseyside was questioned. But he could conceivably be Everton’s keeper for well over a decade, has already proven his capabilities in a poorer Premier League side, and has a bloody mean side-volley.


Matt Stead


* Until someone proves us wrong in the comments.

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