Maguire, Grealish, Shaw, Walker: Calculating the most overpriced English XI of all time

  • Kobe Tong
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English players are always incredibly overpriced, or at least that’s how the cliché goes.

The January transfer window is entering its endgame and you can bet that Premier League clubs will be throwing their clash around on players who are seeing their asking price rise by the day.

And as has proven to be the case at several points in recent history, there’s good reason to think that you’ll be paying even more than you’d prefer if the player happens to be English.

Paying over the odds

Now, of course, it’s worth saying that it’s not a hard and fast rule because there are plenty of cases to the contrary, but we bet that you can also name many England players with inflated price tags.

In fact, it’s one of those footballing clichés that carries weight to an extent that we wanted to do some further investigating by checking out the most overpriced English male footballers of all time.

To do so, we’re calling upon Transfermarkt data that assesses how much footballers were transferred for compared to their calculated market value at the time that the deal went through.

In other words, if Joe Blogs was sold for £50 million at a time where Transfermarkt reckoned that his market value clocked in at £35 million, then he would have been overpriced by £15 million.

Aston Villa 2-2 Man Utd Match Reaction (Football Terrace)

Most overpriced English XI in history

So, we’ve taken that metric and ran with it to produce the most overpriced English XI in history with the most bloating price tag of all time in each position earning a place in the line-up.

However, before we unveil the team, it’s important to remember that buying a player for an overpriced fee is not inherently a bad thing because it can actually pay off massively in the long run.

Besides, bear in mind that Virgil van Dijk to Liverpool is simultaneously one of the most overpriced transfers in football history and one of the most inspired.

That hefty £75 million might have looked eye-watering compared to his transfer value of £27.00 million at the time of the deal, but boy has it been made to look like a bargain ever since.

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Let's start easy: What was Tottenham's old ground called?

With all that said, be sure to check out the most overpriced English XI down below while assessing which players you think were worth the overpayment and which proved to be an economic error.

GK: Aaron Ramsdale (Sheffield United to Arsenal) – £14.40 million difference

Transfer fee: £25.20 million

Market value at the time: £10.80 million

Go on, admit it, you thought that Arsenal paid too much for Ramsdale this summer and although the data suggests that you were right, boy has the England international proved us all wrong.

If Ramsdale can maintain his extraordinarily impressive form so far this season, then the £25.20 million that Arsenal paid for his services will look like loose change down the sofa in a few years.

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RB: Kyle Walker (Tottenham Hotspur to Manchester City) – £20.43 million difference

Transfer fee: £47.43 million

Market value at the time: £27.00 million

Again, this is another example where paying over the odds was absolutely worth it because Walker has gone on to become one of the world’s finest full-backs under Pep Guardiola’s stewardship.

CB: Harry Maguire (Leicester to Manchester United) – £33.30 million difference

Transfer fee: £78.30 million

Market value at the time: £45.00 million

Insert whatever jokes you like about Maguire, but the simple fact of the matter is that he hasn’t been as bad for the Red Devils as some supporters like to make out on social media.

However, there’s no denying that Maguire can do much, much better in the famous red jersey and it seems inescapable that United paid more than they would have liked to secure his services.

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CB: Ben White (Brighton & Hove Albion to Arsenal) – £27.45 million difference

Transfer fee: £52.65 million

Market value at the time: £25.20 million

Did Arsenal pay too much? Yeh, probably, but White is starting to show exactly the sort of form that suggests the Gunners will be glad that they coughed up when he’s still shining for them five years down the line.

LB: Luke Shaw (Southampton to Manchester United) – £22.05 million difference

Transfer fee: £33.75 million

Market value at the time: £11.70 million

Becoming the world’s most expensive teenager is quite the pressure point and from the traumatic leg break to exile under Jose Mourinho, Shaw’s time at Old Trafford hasn’t exactly been plain sailing.

However, we’re happy to put our hands up and say that United’s decision to overpay for Shaw has turned out to be a good one because he’s up there with the world’s finest full-backs on his day.

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CM: Danny Drinkwater (Leicester City to Chelsea) – £26.01 million difference

Transfer fee: £34.11 million

Market value at the time: £8.10 million

The first signing in the line-up where we can hand-on-heart say that the club paying over the odds simply wasn’t worth it because Drinkwater’s time at Stamford Bridge has proven to be disastrous.

The former England man’s career has flown off the rails since moving to Chelsea and he’s now lost in a state of limbo having spent time on loan at Aston Villa, Burnley, Kasımpaşa S.K. and Reading.

CM: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal to Liverpool) – £14.40 million difference

Transfer fee: £34.20 million

Market value at the time: £19.80 million

There’s no denying that moving to Liverpool has worked out for Oxlade-Chamberlain with Premier League and Champions League glory, but has the deal really been worth it for the Reds?

It’s a tough question to answer and when you see the data suggesting that ‘The Ox’ is one of the most overpriced English footballers in history, you have to wonder if the conclusion is simply ‘no’.

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CM: Adam Lallana (Southampton to Liverpool) – £21.15 million difference

Transfer fee: £27.90 million

Market value at the time: £6.75 million

By no means a terrible signing at all, but there’s no escaping the fact that Lallana only really showed his full potential in flashes on Merseyside and that’s simply not good enough when you’re paying over the odds. 

RW: Shaun Wright-Phillips (Manchester City to Chelsea) – £19.80 million difference

Transfer fee: £28.35 million

Market value at the time: £8.55 million

This is a tough one because ‘SWP’ neither flopped nor thrived in west London, so you’ve probably got to lean towards paying almost £20 million above his market value not quite being worth it.

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ST: Andy Carroll (Newcastle United to Liverpool) – £34.65 million difference

Transfer fee: £36.90 million

Market value at the time: £2.25 million

Goodness gracious me. Now that’s a damning statistic if ever we’ve seen one. To think that Liverpool splashed out so much on a player who was valued at just over £2 million is mind-blowing.

There are plenty of glass-half-full examples of paying over the odds being the right move for a club, but with all due respect to Carroll, this simply isn’t one of them.

LW: Jack Grealish (Aston Villa to Manchester City) – £47.25 million difference

Transfer fee: £105.75 million

Market value at the time: £58.50million

Yup, this result will come to the surprise of absolutely nobody, because every football fan in the country seemed to do a double-take when City broke the British transfer record to sign Grealish.

Don’t get it twisted, Grealish is one of England’s most talented footballers for a long time, but we’re yet to see the £47-million overinvestment paying off with just three goals and three assists so far.

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Mix of successes and failures

Talk about a mixed bag, right?

Ramsdale, Walker and Shaw go to show that overpaying can work out in the long run, whereas Carroll, Drinkwater and potentially even Maguire prove that it can sometimes be disastrous.

And that’s the dangerous side of the transfer window because it’s incredibly hard to tell whether it’s worth gambling millions of pounds above value when the selling club is pushing you to do so.

As such, like we say, being one of the most overpriced players in history doesn’t necessarily make you bad footballer, but it does make you a tantalising risky purchase from the club securing you.

And wouldn’t football be a lot more boring if there wasn’t that exact feeling of jeopardy? You bet.

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