Just for funsies, we’ve had a go at valuing England’s Golden Generation if they were to be sold in their prime in 2023. Wayne Rooney would fetch Neymar money, wouldn’t he?
Inflation in football is a bit bonkers, isn’t it? This, on top of the ‘English tax’ teams have to pay means players like Dominic Solanke and Jordan Ibe were sold by Liverpool for well above their actual value. Wayne Rooney cost Manchester United £30million when he was 18 years young, which is only £10m more than the Reds sold Solanke to Bournemouth for. Obviously, we all know how inflation works. Rooney was sold in 2004, 15 years before Solanke joined the Cherries.
This sort of deal is how modern football works, and Declan Rice’s impending move to Arsenal for a mind-boggling £105m got us thinking, how much would Wayne Rooney and Steven Gerrard go for in this day and age?
Obviously, the money Premier League clubs make these days is stupid. West Ham went into the summer transfer window in one hell of a position. They are not desperate for cash, although they did know a decent fee would go a long way to building a team capable of competing in the top half of the Premier League, just won a European trophy and are in next season’s Europa League, are massively ambitious and have a very humble player with two years left on his contract who has politely asked to leave to fulfil his dream of playing at the highest level. A transfer was always going to happen on their terms, and it definitely has in the end.
Arsenal look like they are getting Rice for £105m, which will be a record transfer for a British player, so here is a list including some English players from the 2000s and how much they would be worth in 2023, in their prime. This is subjective, by the way. No real logic or method behind it all. And on that note…enjoy and don’t get your knickers in a twist.
£30m in 2004 would officially be worth £58.9m in 2023. Surely, Rooney would have gone for more than that these days?! He broke into the Everton first-team and secured a move to Manchester United at the age of 18 and would become one of the best players ever produced in England.
At his best, Rooney was unplayable. From being an incredible finisher to an elite playmaker and overall nut job, the Liverpool-born ex-striker was the full package and would have been worth £105m to Everton when he was sold to United, and then at least £180m when he was at his best for the Red Devils if he was sold in 2023. That figure is obviously what Paris Saint-Germain want for Kylian Mbappe…but English tax.
“He will go right to the very top. Right to the very top” – Harry Redknapp, 1996. Redknapp angrily said this about Frank Lampard when told Scott Canham was the better player. He wasn’t wrong, to be fair.
Lampard, the midfielder, would go on to score 177 Premier League goals and play 106 times for England. He cost Chelsea around £11m when he left West Ham in 2001. He was only 22 at the time and had played 175 times for the Hammers, which was 70 appearances fewer than Rice has amassed for the east Londoners. If Lampard was leaving West Ham this summer, they would want a similar fee to their current captain, so let’s say £110m. In his prime for Chelsea, that fee is comfortably £130m.
Gerrard never left Liverpool for a transfer fee, but he was reportedly keen to join Chelsea when he was in his mid-twenties. The rumoured fee at the time was £36m. Today, considering how important he was to the Reds, that valuation would be closer to £150m.
The former England and Manchester United defender recently claimed he would be worth £170m in 2023 and would be earning £400,000 per week. Okay Rio, this is the sort of thing someone is meant to say about you, not something you should say about yourself.
He wasn’t too far off, to be fair to him. Ferdinand cost Man United between £29-33m when he joined from Leeds United in 2002. Today, that would be £90m because defenders are not as appealing to buy. At his best for United? Rio would be £120m.
The Premier League’s all-time top scorer’s transfer fee today would be similar to Harry Kane’s, when he didn’t have a year left on his contract. Let’s say £150m. Blackburn Rovers probably would have wanted £100m when they sold Shearer to Newcastle United, though.
Terry’s passing range was excellent and he retired as the best centre-back in Premier League history. In today’s market, the ex-England and Chelsea captain would be worth £100m. He is less than Ferdinand purely on how better suited the Man United legend would be to the modern game.
The only player on this list to have won a Ballon d’Or, Owen earned a huge £8m move to Real Madrid in 2004, when he was 24 years old. If Liverpool were selling Owen to Madrid today, they would get at least £130m, no questions asked.
Full-backs are not the most glamorous players, but modern football sure as hell made them more important. Ashley Cole is the best left-back in Premier League history. He was world class back in the day. Because he was a left-back, we will say he would be worth £75m in 2023.
Speaking of being a boring full-back and lacking in glamour, we would have to say Gary Neville would be worth £50m. So he was on the same level as Aaron Wan-Bissaka is, apparently.
The man with a right peg sweeter than a Haribo Tangfastic, delivery more efficient than Postman Pat, and the aura Virgil van Dijk still thinks he has when defending, David Beckham is still a heartthrob but first and foremost, he was a decent player back in the day.
Real Madrid paid around £30m to make Golden Balls a Galactico. Today, that fee would have been closer to £90m.
The other Cole who played for England and Chelsea, Joe was a lovely dribbler and fantastic footballer in his prime, before injuries took over. The Blues paid a measly £6.6m to land Cole, 21, from West Ham in 2003. Today in a very analytical and tactical-driven world of football, a player like Cole is not as crucial to a team as someone like Rice. The Hammers would want a similar fee to the one they sold Rice for, so let’s say £95m, before being valued at the same amount by Chelsea.
Big Sol would be pretty desirable nowadays due to his incredible pace, strength and aerial ability. Was he that good on the ball, though? He obviously walked to Arsenal on a free in 2001, but if he was under contract for another two years, give or take, like Rice, he would have cost the Gunners £75m in 2023, not that Spurs would have sold to their arch-rivals.
Crouch is in here because he is just a top-class fella, to be honest. He was obviously good in his day. Never world class, but decent nonetheless. The most he cost a club was when Portsmouth paid £11m to land him from Liverpool. We are saying that fee would be closer to £45m nowadays.
We are now officially out of the category of Premier League and England greats, but Walcott gets a mention as he joined Arsenal from Southampton as a wonderkid, the next big thing. The Gunners paid an initial £5m for the speedy 16-year-old. Obviously, signing someone of that age comes with a lot more risks, so we will say Walcott’s big break would have come at a cost of £60m in 2023.
Included as he was quite similar to Rice, Carrick was a top player for Spurs and then Manchester United. The latter paid around £18m in July 2006. If Rice was £105m, it feels fair to say Carrick would have been around £95m.