Rating the impact of the eight most expensive transfers involving English players

Manchester United’s protracted pursuit of Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho seems no closer to reaching a conclusion, the back-and-forth between the two clubs having failed to find an agreement in recent weeks.

The Bundesliga side are believed to be demanding a fee in excess of £100m for the England international, a fee which could eclipse the British transfer-record the Red Devils paid to sign Paul Pogba from Juventus four years ago.

That figure would also make Sancho the most expensive Englishman in football history and the record-breaking fee is a testament to the winger’s performances in recent years, though past purchases proves that big spending is no guarantee of big success when it comes to England’s top talent.


English footballers often come with a premium price-tag, one which many Premier League sides may wish they hadn’t paid on the basis of this list of signings.

Here are our ratings of the impact of the eight most expensive transfers involving English players.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – Arsenal to Liverpool (£35m)

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain burst onto the scene as a product of Southampton’s famed academy before earning a move to Arsenal, where despite progressing into a full England international failed to fulfil his early potential.

The midfielder won the FA Cup on three occasions with the north London side but his versatility proved detrimental to his development, playing in a variety of roles including out wide and at wing-back.

Arsenal’s continued transition saw Oxlade-Chamberlain depart and sign for Premier League rivals Liverpool in the summer of 2017, where Reds’ boss Jurgen Klopp hoped to utilise the best of the star’s attributes in his preferred central midfield role.

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Providing thrust and dynamism as the link-man between Liverpool’s workman-like midfield and fluid front three, Oxlade-Chamberlain enjoyed a promising debut campaign before his progress was halted by a serious knee injury in the club’s Champions League semi-final win over Roma.

He missed almost an entire year before briefly returning for the latter stages of last season, claiming a Champions League winners’ medal before forming part of the side which were crowned as champions of England for the first time in three decades this season.

His current record stands at 13 goals in 87 appearances for the Merseyside club and he will hope for increased status amongst a host of midfield options as Liverpool go in search of further silverware next season.

Rating: 6/10

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Andy Carroll – Newcastle to Liverpool (£35m)

Deadline day of the 2011 winter window will live long in the memory of football fans, with Fernando Torres’ British transfer-record move from Liverpool to Chelsea sparking a transfer frenzy.

The talismanic fans’ favourite had decided on a move to Stamford Bridge and the Spaniard’s departure left Liverpool with a Torres-sized hole in their attack – alongside deep pockets following a £50m fee received from the big-spending west London outfit.

Luis Suarez arrived from Ajax and proved a superb signing for the Reds over the next few seasons, but the decision to splash a club-record £35m on Geordie giant Andy Carroll still ranks amongst Liverpool’s worst ever transfer business.

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Carroll had fired Newcastle back into the Premier League and enjoyed a hugely impressive first half of the season in the top flight, the towering target-man’s performances prompting Kenny Dalglish to secure his signing.

Carroll struggled for form and fitness during an 18-month spell on Merseyside and despite some highlights – including a brace against Manchester City and late FA Cup semi-final winner against Everton – scored a paltry six league goals for the club.

His hulking presence was ill-suited to the style Liverpool played and he swiftly found himself out-of-favour, joining West Ham on a season-long loan deal before completing a permanent £17m move to the capital.

Rating: 2/10

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Danny Drinkwater – Leicester to Chelsea (£35m)

That’s right, Danny Drinkwater sits as one of the most expensive English footballers of all-time and as one of the Premier League’s worst ever transfers.

The former Manchester United academy graduate rebuilt his career in the lower leagues after leaving Old Trafford and became a key figure in a Leicester side that would enjoy unprecedented success, earning promotion to the Premier League before that improbable title triumph two years later.

Drinkwater’s stock had never been higher and he completed a £35m move to Chelsea a year later, a move which has seen the career of the three-cap England international nosedive in spectacular fashion.

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Drinkwater has made just 12 league appearances for the club in the three years since arriving at Stamford Bridge, enduring unsuccessful loan spells at both Burnley and Aston Villa with his career showing no signs of reigniting.

It’s perhaps difficult to fathom how Chelsea’s recruitment staff felt there was no better value in the foreign market ahead of this purchase, a deal which ranks firmly amongst the worst business of recent years.

Rating: 1/10

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John Stones – Everton to Manchester City (£47.5m)

Manchester City have spent exorbitant fees on strengthening their defence over the past few seasons, their record when it comes to recruits rather more miss than hit, including the £47.5m purchase of Everton defender John Stones.

The ‘Barnsley Beckenbauer’ had impressed with his ball-playing style since moving to Merseyside, with Pep Guardiola identifying the England international as a player could be a long-term fixture in the heart of his defence at the Etihad.

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Stones has enjoyed his moments as a City player and has helped the club to a wealth of trophies including back-to-back league titles, but his progress has stalled in recent years as he’s failed to deliver on his early potential.

The 26-year-old remains a fine passer of the ball and comfortable in possession, though his nonchalant style has led to high-profile errors and question marks over his defensive attributes. Form and fitness issues plagued Stones last season and despite supposedly being in the peak of his career, faces an uncertain future at City with speculation he could be moved on this summer.

Rating: 5/10

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Raheem Sterling – Liverpool to Manchester City (£49m)

Amongst the few undisputed success stories on this feature, Raheem Sterling’s game has gone from strength to strength since taking the decision to leave Liverpool for Manchester City five years ago.

Sterling had joined the Merseyside club as a teenager from QPR and flourished after coming through the Reds’ academy ranks, breaking into the first-team under Brendan Rodgers and playing an influential role in the club’s title challenge in 2013/14.

Liverpool, however, remained in transition and after turning down a new contract he headed to the Etihad in a £49m deal in 2015, where the arrival of Pep Guardiola the following season has since elevated Sterling’s game to new heights.

The 25-year-old has developed from inconsistent wide player into one of the most effective forwards in world football, scoring prolifically for City and establishing himself as a talismanic figure for one of the greatest sides in Premier League history.

Sterling’s trophy haul includes two Premier League titles and four domestic cups, whilst he was named as the FWA Footballer of the Year and PFA Young Player of the Year after helping City to the second of back-to-back title triumphs in 2018/19.

Arguably the key figure in an emerging England side under Gareth Southgate, Sterling has now scored 20+ goals in three consecutive seasons for City, including a career-best 31 goals in all competitions last season.

Rating: 9/10

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Kyle Walker – Tottenham to Manchester City (£50m)

The third Manchester City player to feature on this list of England’s most expensive players, Kyle Walker moved to the Etihad from Premier League rivals Tottenham as Pep Guardiola overhauled his full-back options in the summer of 2017.

Walker’s move north from the capital has delivered six major honours in just three seasons, including forming part of the sides which won a Premier League record 100 points in 2017/18 and completed an unprecedented domestic double the following season.

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The 30-year-old’s dynamism has made him an important part of the City backline in recent seasons and he has racked up over a century of appearances for the club, but his form has often been inconsistent and he has lost his place in the England squad in recent months.

Walker’s pace and athleticism can make him a formidable opponent for the Premier League’s best wide men, but he perhaps lacks the attacking returns currently being delivered by an emerging generation of full-backs.

Rating: 7/10

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Aaron Wan-Bissaka – Crystal Palace – Manchester United (£50m)

Another player who undoubtedly cost a Premier League premium upon moving to Manchester United last summer, Aaron Wan-Bissaka had just one full season of experience at the highest level before becoming a £50m player.

The full-back had starred for Crystal Palace and was named as the club’s Player of the Year for his performances at Selhurst Park throughout 2018/19, with United convinced to splash out a staggering fee to take the youngster to Old Trafford.

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Wan-Bissaka has won plaudits during his debut season with the Red Devils, with the 22-year-old regarded as one of the best defensive full-backs in the division and a prolific winner of the ball, making more tackles than any other player in the Premier League last season.

The youngster’s timing and recovery pace have seen him thwart some notable opposition throughout the campaign, and United will now hope he can improve his attacking contribution as he bids to progress as a complete full-back.

Quietly one of the success stories of Manchester United’s season, Wan-Bissaka has the potential to develop into a key figure for an emerging Red Devils’ side.

Rating: 6/10

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Harry Maguire – Leicester to Manchester United (£80m)

The most expensive English player of all-time and the most expensive defender in football history, Harry Maguire’s move to Manchester United is perhaps the best example of English premium on this list.

Maguire has forged a reputation as a dependable centre-back throughout his top flight career and established himself as a first-choice for England in recent years, though there are perhaps few who would have confidently suggested he was worth this vastly-inflated fee.

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Last season’s marquee signing has undoubtedly improved the United backline and his importance and impact was rewarded with the club captaincy in January, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer viewing the centre-back as the new leader of his developing side.

However, Maguire’s debut season has also been littered with some notable mistakes, his lack of mobility often making the 27-year-old appear cumbersome against the Premier League’s best attacking talents.

Signing an ideal partner for the Red Devils captain – a dominant player with recovery pace – may extract the best from Maguire’s talents but the jury remains out on the value of his signing despite United’s qualification for next season’s Champions League.

Rating: 5/10

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