Overhyping English players to the extent where we basically ruin their careers has become the norm over the past couple of decades.
It’s not that we want them to be bad players, but more the fact we’re so desperate for them to flourish and excel with the national team that we end up just getting ahead of ourselves and crush them under the weight of expectation.
Like Lennie in Of Mice and Men, if anything we love them too much, Clive…
It’s not just us fans though, Premier League clubs are just as complicit in the issue, with sides desperate to fork out eye-watering sums of money for English players in the hope they’ll become the next Rio, Rooney or Stevie G.
Given Arsenal’s occasionally haphazard defence, it came as no real surprise to hear Mikel Arteta was pursuing a deal for Brighton’s Ben White earlier this summer, but the news the Gunners are ready to shell out £50m on the centre-back is pretty worrying.
A whole host of English centre-backs have had their careers stunted, blunted and ruined by mega-money moves – the majority of whom are actually competent defenders who’ve just been ruined by their price tag.
90min has taken a look at the signings that prove White’s move to Arsenal is a terrible idea…
Having spent the early part of his career in the lower leagues, Alfie Mawson bagged himself a move to Premier League side Swansea where he gave a decent account of himself during his two years at the club.
Notice the use of the word ‘decent’? Not ‘brilliant’ or ‘outstanding’, just decent. So of course the next step in his career was to secure a £20m move to Fulham. Twenty. Million.
Obviously he’s not a £20m footballer and within two years he’d been deemed surplus to requirements at the Cottagers and spent last season on loan at Championship strugglers Bristol City.
Say what you like about Michael Keane, he was absolutely nowhere near the level needed to be classed as a £30m footballer in 2017 when he made the move from Burnley to Weird Transfer kings Everton.
The former Burnley man performed well during his time with the Clarets, but if Ben Mee and James Tarkowski have taught us anything it’s that Sean Dyche can make decent centre-backs look like world beaters.
Keane has been average at best since his big-money move to Goodison Park, but the Toffees seem determined to continue playing him in a bid to prove they were right to fork out such a monumental amount of money.
Oh Arsenal, have you not learned your lesson yet?
Calum Chambers looked a real top prospect when he emerged from the Southampton academy eight years ago, and with just 22 Premier League appearances to his name the Gunners shelled out £16m for his services.
Since then his career has gone absolutely nowhere, with various loan spells proving to be little more than a brief respite before a return to his Arsenal hell.
The Gunners seem intent on shoehorning him in at right-back, but his temporary moves to Middlesbrough and Fulham have proved he’s more suited to a role at centre-back.
The big-money move to Arsenal clearly came way too soon and at 26 he’s already looking destined to be a player who ruined a promising start to his career.
Sir Alex Ferguson genuinely claimed Phil Jones could go on to become Manchester United’s greatest ever player. No pressure mate.
A £16.5m signing from Blackburn at the age of 19, Jones started off by being slowly eased into the United team, but it wasn’t long before he was clearly little more than a back-up option.
He may have turned into a figure of ridicule in recent years, but at Blackburn he genuinely showed signs of promise, yet a massive move to arguably the biggest club in the world when still a teenager was, with hindsight, not the right move.
Y’know that part where we said about how Dyche can turn decent centre-backs into world beaters? Yeah that doesn’t apply here.
Ben Gibson burst onto the scene with Middlesbrough back in 2013 and despite being guaranteed first-team football at his hometown club he opted for the bright lights of the Premier League with, erm, Burnley.
The £15m move went horrendously, with Gibson going from an England hopeful to a player who managed just one Premier League appearance in three years.
Admittedly the competition for places was probably more of a factor than the price tag, but in one of his first outings for the Clarets he looked a shadow of the player he was at Boro as he was sent off against Olympiacos
in the Europa League and was pretty much never seen in a Burnley shirt again.
Jonathan Woodgate played for some huge clubs in his career, he also represented England and scored the winning goal in a cup final for Tottenham, but he’ll always be remembered as the guy who had that debut.
Having impressed during his 18-month stay at Newcastle, Woodgate earned himself a bumper £13.4m move to La Liga giants Real Madrid in 2004.
Getting off to a good start is imperative for any player looking to settle into a new club, but it’s even more important when you’ve moved for such a lofty fee to a club the size of Real – Woodgate did not get off to a good start.
Having produced a superb diving header to notch his first own goal for the club in his maiden outing against Athletic, he was later sent off for a second bookable offence as he rounded off possibly the worst debut in footballing history.
No-one ever doubted his talent but it was clear the pressure had got to him following his big move to Real (plus, y’know, all the injuries) and with just nine La Liga appearances to his name he left to join Middlesbrough.