Unproven Youth: Jordan Henderson and Phil Jones in Landmark Soccer Transfers
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A combined total of over £37m ($61m). A combined age of just 39.
News has broken that Sunderland midfielder Jordan Henderson, 20, has completed a £20m ($33m) move to Liverpool, while Blackburn Rovers defender Phil Jones, 19, has turned down offers from Arsenal and Liverpool to join English Premier League champions Manchester United in a deal reportedly worth £17m ($28m).
Much controversy was generated in January of this year when Liverpool bought striker Andy Carroll from Newcastle United for an estimated £35m ($57m)—all for a player with one international cap and precious little Premier League soccer under his belt.
But even Andy Carroll somewhat proved his worth, netting 19 goals in the 2009/2010 Championship season on his way to helping Newcastle United clinch the title in extraordinary fashion. In his debut Premier League season, Carroll started off sensationally, scoring 11 goals in 20 appearances before his somewhat unsurprising transfer to a financially exuberant club who can afford to rip yet another local youngster away from his boyhood club.
So what have Jordan Henderson and Phil Jones done to show that they really are the next generation of world class soccer players worth incredulous and exorbitant amounts of money? Nothing.
These two transactions represent massive risks to both Liverpool and Manchester United. If either of these players don't live up to the ridiculous standard now beset upon them (which is perfectly likely, given the fickle nature of life in the English Premier League—Andy Carroll has already suffered such a fate with Liverpool), then they will forever be known as wasted investments by the two clubs and wasted talent by the rest of the soccer world.
But this means something more for both Henderson and Jones. This presents an opportunity to showcase their abilities to the world by playing for two behemoths of English football. This is the chance of a lifetime.
The point still remains, however: Henderson has made only one appearance for the English national team and has scored just five goals for Sunderland during his tenure. Jones has, by all accounts, fared worse than Henderson, despite playing for Premier League outfit Blackburn Rovers. He was handed his first start in the Premier League a little over a year ago March of 2010 and has since gone on to make 38 more appearances for Blackburn Rovers. Jones has also failed to make an impact for the English Under-21 side. Neither player has had an exhaustive career in the Premier League or indeed in professional soccer so do they deserve to have such a large bounty placed on their skills?
We can only wait with bated breath while the transfer window begins to sizzle as teams start altering their squads in preparation for the new English Premier League season. Henderson and Jones will be watched closely as they try to set the soccer world alight and prove to every soccer fan that if given an inch, they'll take a mile.
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