The script is almost as old, worn and replayed as often as one of those asinine teen dance movies. Every summer or winter transfer market you are guaranteed a few instances where a big club swoops in and overpays for a promising young player from a ‘smaller’ club. More often than not, the young player then rots on the bench watching the big clubs stars play.
It would appear Liverpool are about to swoop in on Sunderland and pay £20 million for young English midfielder Jordan Henderson. Henderson went through the same mid season sump as the rest of his Sunderland team mates, however anyone who watches him on a regular basis agrees the raw talent is there. He has a great engine, runs all day and can pick out a team mate with pin point accuracy from almost anywhere on the park. Towards the end of the season he bagged a few goals too.
There are several problems however with this potential transfer.
First of all, Henderson has literally just signed a five year contract with his home town team, Sunderland. Secondly, Liverpool already have four established players sitting in the posotion Henderson would play.
The player homself obviously bears a large weight of responsibility in these situations. In this case it would appear Henderson, instead of knuckling down and honouring his brand new five year contract, would rather follow the turgid stench of pound notes all the way to the Liverpool bench.
The bench? Correct, the bench. Henderson is a central midfielder. Most teams like to play with two central midfielders at maximum, depending on formation and needs. Liverpool currently have Steven Gerrard, Lucas Leiva, Raul Meireles and Jay Spearing to preform that role. You could argue both sides of the coin as to who is better, Henderson or Spearing, but does Henderson honestly think he is going to walk straight into the Liverpool side ahead of Gerrard, Lucas or even Meireles?
How Henderson can not see this is alarming. On one hand, he could knuckle down, dig in, develop and learn as a player, playing in front of adoring home town fans, leading his boy hood club up the Permiership player, under the secure blanket of a wealthy five year contract. On the other hand, he can play for Liverpool reserves in week night matches against other reserve players in empty stadiums.
Hopefully the extra few pounds in his pay check will keep him happy at night.
Whatever about the player, what on earth are Liverpool doing? Midfield cover is one thing, but spending £20 million on a luxury player that is willing to walk out on a five year contract before the ink is fully dry?
Sunderland are no innocent party in this. For them, no matter what way they try to dress this up, the potential £20 million sale of Jordan Henderson is nothing but a dirty, ugly stain on their copy book. Sunderland will no doubt try to sell this as part of a rebuilding process, insisting the £20 million will go towards other players, but the problem is, why are they selling in the first place? Sunderland already has an open minded, generous owner (Ellis Short, one of the more successful American Premiere League owners) and a big wad of cash remaining from the Darren Bent sale. They don’t really need the money.
In terms of talent, how are they going to upgrade on a young, fit, healthy, regular in the England under-21 side? How do you possibly upgrade on that? You can dress it up any way you want, but selling off your best players (Bent/Henderson) is nothing short of selling out on your loyaly fans.
Sunderland managers down the years have often complained loudly about not being able to attract top talent to the North East. Well, you can’t really complain about not being able to cajole top players to come play with you, when you are so readily willing to cast off the ones you already have. Until Sunderland start keeping talented young players like Henderson they will always be a second tier junk side, wallowing around mid table in the English Premiership, acting as some kind of feeder team for the likes of Liverpool, United and Chelsea.
Obviously every single sport has its problems, but the English Premiership, much as we all love it, can sure be an ugly place. What we are about to see unfold before us, in this potential transfer can be simplified down to the following.
Medium size club spends money and effort developing home-grown player to international level. Home grown player says all the right things and signs sparkling five year contract with boy-hood club. Big club swoops in and overpays for player, with players agent gleefully progressing the move whispering in the players ear, Iago like, how the move is best for him while rolling around in the commission money. Medium club wastes the fee on mid level journey man players while big club sits new player on bench for two years until he gets sold on for half the original fee to another mid level club.