The recent signing of Stewart Downing has confirmed an otherwise unsaid transfer policy that Liverpool FC will give priority to British players.
Some fans complain that the price of British footballers is inflated, and there is some truth to that. But if you cast your mind back a few years ago to when UEFA introduced the Home Grown Players rule, those same fans at the time were probably complaining that young British players were not given a fair chance to break into the starting XI of the big Premier League clubs.
When the season finally gets started, concern over the inflated costs of British players will fall by the wayside as long as those players concerned deliver the goods on the field.
The most obvious advantage of signing domestically developed players is that their transition into a new squad will likely go smoother than foreign players. For Liverpool especially, this advantage will outweigh the cost issue, because the club has struggled for consistency in tricky away fixtures against the likes of Stoke, Blackpool, Portsmouth, etc.
In these games, the direct, physical approach of a British player such as Charlie Adam will likely be more valuable than the technical subtleties of cultured Continental players (not to say that there isn't a place for those types of players either).
Now for the first time in recent memory, Liverpool will be able to field an entirely British XI. The only position in which there isn't a British player in the senior squad is in goal, so I've dipped into the Academy for that position. Otherwise, it's not unlikely that this same starting XI might feature in a league match this season.
This team is set out in a 4-5-1 formation.
17 Years Old
Four England Youth Level Caps
Profile information from the official LFC website :
Belford came to the Academy in 2009 after Liverpool swooped to sign him from Coventry City.
The highly-regarded 'keeper has been a feature in England's U16 side over the past 12 months and is known for his shot-stopping ability and communication skills.
He will battle it out with Jamie Stephens for the No.1 jersey.
21 Years Old
28 Senior Liverpool Appearances
11 England Youth Level Caps
Kelly was Liverpool's standout young player last season. He displaced Glen Johnson from the right back position, and had it not been for injury, would have made his senior England debut.
Probably the most promising player to have come through the Liverpool youth setup since Stephen Warnock.
19 Years Old
Three Senior Scotland Caps
A product of the Rangers Academy, he has inevitably drawn comparisons to Liverpool and Scotland legend Alan Hansen. Considering the dearth of ball-playing centre halves at Liverpool (and in the Premiership in general), Wilson will hopefully live up to his billing and become a regular first team player in the near future.
Signed from Rangers for $2 million pounds, he was named both the Scottish PFA and Football Writers Young Player in 2010.
33 Years Old
668 Liverpool Appearances
38 England Caps
A living Liverpool legend who obviously needs no introduction. Although he is getting on in years and a few grey hairs can be noticed in his television interviews, he is aging well.
Since he was a player who never had much pace to begin with he should be capable of contributing to the first team for another three years at least.
17 Years Old
11 England Youth Level Caps
Jack Robinson holds the record as the youngest Liverpool player to ever appear for the first team (16 years 250 days). Caught everyone's attention with his display against Arsenal last season when he came on to replace the injured Fabio Aurelio.
He outplayed and dominated Theo Walcott in that game and is definitely a fantastic prospect for the future.
26 Years Old
34 England Caps
Although considered a full back, Johnson's brilliant abilities at attacking and awful positional defensive sense suggest that his future would best be spent as a winger.
And since Liverpool have showed no interest in signing an out-and-out right winger, this is not an unlikely prospect for Johnson.
21 Years Old
71 Premier League Appearances
One England Cap
Paying a $16 million-pound price tag on a relatively unknown youngster from Sunderland was bound to be controversial.
But if Kenny Dalglish and Damien Comolli have gotten this one right and Henderson turns out to be a suitable long-term replacement for Steven Gerrard, then his transfer fee will become irrelevant.
One very promising fact about Henderson is that he created 82 goal-scoring chances last season—the fourth highest in the league.
25 Years Old
11 Scotland Caps
63 Career Goals
Charlie Adam has had something of an up-and-down career. A disapointment at Rangers, he turned out to be one of the shrewdest signings ever made by an English club when Blackpool picked him up for just half a million pounds and sold him to Liverpool for $7 million just two years later.
Liverpool have been lacking a goal threat from the centre of the park recently—a problem which will hopefully be solved by Adam who scored 12 in the league last season.
31 Years Old
557 Liverpool Appearances
89 England Caps
140 Goals (club level)
Still the greatest midfielder in the world (who doesn't wear a Barcelona jersey anyway).
The media's recent gushing over Paul Scholes was truly nauseating, especially when they called him the best English midfielder of his generation. It's beyond arguing that Steven Gerrard is the best English player since Alan Shearer and probably the best English midfielder of all time.
26 Years Old
27 England Caps
215 Premier League Appearances
Premiership captains don't come cheap. So there really isn't much of a surprise that Downing cost LFC $20 million.
Considering that Liverpool have not had a decent winger in the squad since Steve McManaman, the cost of bringing in Downing is all the easier to accept.
Stuart Downing will be expected to make an immediate impact on the team. The quality of his crosses made him an obvious target for Dalglish to sign, since this will help get the most out of Liverpool's record-signing Andy Carroll.
22 Years Old
36 Career Goals
There's been more than enough discussion about Andy Carroll's price tag without me adding on. All I'll say about being the most expensive British player is that if he does indeed turn out to be a latter day John Toshack, the price won't matter one bit.
Gianluigi Buffon said of Carroll "He will be an asset because he can find the smaller players around him in different ways and has already shown he has great awareness."
If the world's greatest goalkeeper, Kenny Dalglish and Damien Comolli think highly of him, that's enough for me.
Last year, we didn't see as much of him as would have been desired thanks to a thigh injury that took ages to heal. But when he did regain fitness, he was great, especially against Manchester City.
His performances towards the end of the season combined with what he did at Newcastle suggest he will be a source of grief for defenders around the league.
I know he'll be in fantasy football team, as I expect he will be in the running for leading scorer next season.
22 Years Old
26 Liverpool Appearances
Quote from the LFC website :
What the Wirral-born youngster lacks in height, he makes up in hunger and energy. These attributes prompted the Kop to sing his name for the first time during an electric cameo as the mighty Real Madrid were dispatched 4-0 in March 2009.
Going into the 2011-12 season, Spearing is currently the only defensive midfield cover for Lucas, which should mean he will have plenty of chances to build on his impressive displays from last season.