This lot, including a current Arsenal starter, went for big money despite being uncapped by England at the time. Anthony Gordon in with a bullet at number two…
20) Eberechi Eze (QPR to Crystal Palace, £16m rising to £20m, August 2020)
The prescience of Les Ferdinand knows no bounds. In March 2020 he suggested that QPR midfielder Eberechi Eze “has shown the kind of form and, if he continues to develop in the way he is developing and keeps showing the type of football he has been playing, he is certainly going to put himself in the frame. People are going to start talking about him playing for England.” Just under 18 months and one move to Crystal Palace later, he was on the provisional list for the delayed European Championship squad before an Achilles injury scuppered those hopes and Ferdinand’s vision.
19) Marc Guehi (Chelsea to Crystal Palace, £18m rising to £20m, July 2021)
The three senior caps Marc Guehi has added to his collection of 59 appearances at various England youth levels have come since the centre-half’s move from Chelsea to Crystal Palace. Before that Selhurst Park switch, Guehi had not even played above the Championship. Has barely missed a top-flight game for the Eagles. It feels as though his decision to leave Stamford Bridge has been ever so slightly vindicated.
18) Adam Webster (Bristol City to Brighton, £20m, August 2019)
It fell upon those clever sods at Brighton to give Adam Webster the platform his talents deserve. Ipswich signed him from Portsmouth for £800,000 in June 2016. Bristol City picked him up for £3.5m in July 2018. The Seagulls swooped at the club-record cost of £20m a year later. He’s very much due a nine-figure move.
17) Dwight McNeil (Burnley to Everton, £20m, July 2022)
“When I see some of the other young players who are getting called up and are in and around the squad then he can’t be far away in my opinion but I’m bound to say that, I see him every day,” was the December 2019 view of Burnley manager Sean Dyche, who will be seeing plenty more of Dwight McNeil at Everton.
16) Carney Chukwuemeka (Aston Villa to Chelsea, £20m, August 2022)
Aston Villa received the equivalent of £1.3m for every senior club appearance Carney Chukwuemeka had made before his acrimonious move to Chelsea last summer. The teenager left for more playing opportunities and made his first matchday squad under Thomas Tuchel for the humbling against Leeds. He does come with some international pedigree, having started all five games at last year’s U19 Euros, scoring three goals, assisting two and breaking the deadlock in extra-time of the final against Israel.
15) Jarrod Bowen (Hull to West Ham, £18m to £22m, January 2020)
England recognition finally arrived for Jarrod Bowen after an 18-goal season with West Ham, in which he scored against Manchester City, Chelsea, Tottenham and Arsenal and reached a European semi-final. Hull will have surely received a little extra on top of the initial fee which took him to East London, not least from those four bright international caps last summer. The poor sap has yet to win for England, mind, foolishly timing his breakthrough for their atrocious Nations League campaign.
14) Rhian Brewster (Liverpool to Sheffield United, £18m to £23.5m, October 2020)
Scraping into a list of the ten most expensive sales in Liverpool history is Rhian Brewster, whose four first-team appearances for the Reds came in the Community Shield, FA Cup and League Cup. The forward made the bench for the 2019 Champions League final and was named in just two Premier League matchday squads but Sheffield United believed in the hype and parted with up to £23.5m. An England call hardly beckons, which ought to please grumpy old nemesis Danny Murphy.
13) James Maddison (Norwich to Leicester, £22.5m to £24m, June 2018)
Even a call-up to the actual World Cup squad couldn’t nudge Maddison’s international caps total beyond the one substitute cameo in a 7-0 win over Montenegro that does look like being the sum of his international career. Been bloody great for Leicester, mind.
12) Joe Willock (Arsenal to Newcastle, £20m to £25m, August 2021)
Back in more innocent times, when the Magpies were a little more parsimonious, Steve Bruce was successfully tempted into making Joe Willock the last permanent Magpies signing of the pre-PIF era. He is now the club’s third-best central midfielder, behind two of the best in the entire Premier League.
11) Ben Godfrey (Norwich to Everton, £20m to £25m, October 2020)
There was a time when Ben Godrey could be lumped in with Benjamin White and nary an eyelid was batted. “These two are flexible, they play in different roles and can play left and right. This is a great opportunity for us to know them a bit better and for them to work with the team,” Southgate said after naming them in the provisional squad for the Euros. We have got to know both a bit better since and would no longer consider them equals.
10) Tyrone Mings (Bournemouth to Aston Villa, £20m to £26.5m, July 2019)
It was A Big Thing when Aston Villa agreed to chuck £20m Bournemouth’s way in the process of making the loan of Tyrone Mings a more permanent feature in 2019. The centre-half had played a key part in their rise from the Championship and as that year’s official Promoted Team That Makes A Load Of New Signings, it did make sense. An England squad place arrived a few months later and the Villa captaincy followed in 2021. He appears to have carelessly lost both.
9) Jude Bellingham (Birmingham to Borussia Dortmund, £22.5m to £30m, July 2020)
Manchester United pulled out all the stops and even wheeled in Sir Alex Ferguson but the lure of a clearer path in the Bundesliga sent Jude Bellingham on his way to Borussia Dortmund. With 113 appearances for the German side since – and an increase in his value by around fivefold – to go with a starring role for England at the Qatar World Cup it is difficult to argue that he made the wrong choice. The now very-much capped Bellingham currently occupies top spot on just about every superclub’s wishlist.
8) Aaron Ramsdale (Sheffield United to Arsenal, £24m to £30m, August 2021)
Ramsdale was as uncapped by the senior England side when he joined Arsenal as when he moved back to Sheffield United the year before in a move that means he’s also 21st on this particular list. The only difference this time was the ridicule he faced upon that switch to north London as a twice-relegated keeper signed as back-up for Bernd Leno. It took him a couple of months to prove the doubters wrong and not much longer to muscle and sh*thouse his way into the England picture.
7) Ryan Sessegnon (Fulham to Tottenham, £25m to £30m, August 2019)
The last signing of Mauricio Pochettino’s reign in a deal jointly announced with Giovani Lo Celso’s loan. Ryan Sessegnon could not establish himself under the Argentinean or Jose Mourinho, was on loan at Hoffenheim for Ryan Mason’s stint and found no joy under Nuno Espirito Santo either. There has been greater opportunity under Antonio Conte with his predilection for wing-backs, but the jury remains out on whether the prodigiously talented Sessegnon has really quite grasped that opportunity.
6) Jordan Pickford (Sunderland to Everton, £25m to £30m, June 2017)
“The club’s only going forward, so it’s the best thing I can be doing,” said Jordan Pickford upon his move from Sunderland to Everton, who had just finished 7th in the Premier League and have come 8th, 8th, 12th, 10th and 16th in the subsequent five seasons, while currently sitting 19th. His first England call-up came that August before his Three Lions debut in November. No-one has been able to out-rave him between the sticks for his country in the meantime.
5) Noni Madueke (PSV to Chelsea, £30m, January 2023)
The winger has four Under-21 caps and was in the academy at Tottenham before heading to PSV as a 16-year-old in 2018. Chelsea have spent a pretty penny on the now 20-year-old on the back of one goal in five Eredivisie appearances.
4) Ollie Watkins (Brentford to Aston Villa, £28m to £33m, September 2020)
One season as a centre-forward was enough to tempt Aston Villa into parting with up to £33m for Ollie Watkins in September 2020. The following month he scored a perfect hat-trick against reigning Premier League champions Liverpool and everything felt right. Within the year he had his first England cap, start and goal, making the provisional list for the Euros. But he has been usurped in the perennial race to clean Harry Kane’s boots.
3) Morgan Gibbs-White (Wolves to Nottingham Forest, £25m to £44.5m, August 2022)
That Sheffield United loan made Wolves an awful lot of money. After a season spent earning the title of the Blades’ Player of the Year, Morgan Gibbs-White was pursued by Nottingham Forest and former England youth manager Steve Cooper. A flat fee of £25m stands to be topped up depending on appearances and starts, Forest’s Premier League survival and then European qualification, on top of sell-on clauses pertaining to whatever profit the Tricky Trees make on any subsequent sale. The 22-year-old has only made 48 Premier League appearances and scored once but a first top-flight campaign in more than two decades does things to a club.
2) Anthony Gordon (Everton to Newcastle, £40m, January 2023)
It’s a move that tests the hitherto relentless sensibleness of Newcastle’s post-riches transfer business. It just feels a bit too Chelsea for our liking, given Gordon’s entirely unremarkable record for an admittedly shitbone-awful Everton side.
1) Aaron Wan-Bissaka (Crystal Palace to Manchester United, £45m to £50m, July 2019)
Crystal Palace supporters probably felt that it was the usual show of big club bias from Gareth Southgate to not cap Aaron Wan-Bissaka and call him up as soon as he joined one of the elite. But despite that place in an August 2019 England squad, the right-back has as many international caps at Old Trafford as he earned at Selhurst Park, with Manchester United facing a £40m loss.