Since the arrival of Damien Comolli and the return of Kenny Dalglish, Liverpool have clearly had a preference toward signing English talent. Andy Carroll, Jordan Henderson and Stewart Downing have all arrived at the club in the last 12 months at a combined cost of £71 million. They have also attempted to sign a number of other English players during the last year.
They really missed a trick when they failed to sign Connor Wickham in the 2011 Summer Transfer Window. Wickham is the best centre-forward England has produced since Alan Shearer and is going to become a top class player.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Phil Jones were two others the Reds should have secured in the summer, but for whatever reason they failed to make these deals happen.
If Liverpool are to persist with signing English talent then it is the likes of Wickham, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Jones they should be signing rather than the likes of Carroll, Downing and Henderson.
Sunderland, Arsenal and Manchester United will likely end up paying something in the region £50 million combined for the three young Englishmen they signed and when you look at the potential of those three against the potential of the trio Liverpool signed, and then compare the prices, it's pretty clear that Liverpool got the short end of the stick in terms of value for money.
I will say that each of the six players I have named have been overpaid for, in my opinion. Based on what they have done thus far in their careers and how good they are at this moment in time, none are worth what their clubs spent on them.
The difference is that Wickham, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Jones all look certainties to prove value for money in the long run, whilst only Henderson can be considered as having the potential to ever justify his price tag from the Liverpool trio.
I can understand Liverpool wanting to build a team for the future, but they can not do this at the expense of the present. Signings like Carroll and Henderson have not in any way improved the Liverpool team, but they have cost over £50 million.
I can also see the logic behind building a team made up predominantly of English talent, but to do this they must sign the best English talent, rather than second tier talent as they have done thus far.
They must also consider the cost. As I mentioned above, those six big money English players were all overpriced, some of them costing the purchasing team over twice what the player was actually worth. It is an indisputable fact that you can get better talent at lower prices abroad with Luis Suarez being the prime example when compared to the likes of Andy Carroll.
For the Reds to build a title winning team using the pieces they have now, with some additions, they need to look abroad. Countries like Holland, France, Spain and in particular Germany are hotbeds for fantastically talented players at acceptable prices. If you haven't already read my article on potential targets from the Bundesliga, you can do so by clicking here.
Now, with that being said, I do believe that Liverpool should be looking to bring the best young English talent to the club I stated above. In my opinion they should continue the trend they have started with the signings of Seyi Ojo from Milton Keynes Dons and Jordon Ibe from Wycombe Wanderers.
That is, signing top class young English talent at a young age from lower league clubs and an affordable price so that these players can be developed in at The Academy and will, in the long run, save the club millions. Raheem Sterling and Andre Wisdom were both brought to the club in a similar manner and have progressed nicely with Sterling in particular looking like a future star.
Some people often make the mistake in thinking that Premier League clubs produce the best young players but that's far from true and the four players I've just mentioned are prime examples.
In this article I will list four young English players, all from lower league clubs and three of whom are between the ages of 15 and 17, that Liverpool should sign to secure the future of our great club.
I hope you enjoy.
Mason Bennett is 15 years old and has already made seven first team appearances for Derby County which will give you an indication of just how talented this boy is. The fact that he's making those appearances, and impressing those that watch him, in a league as physical as The Championship will tells you how mature he is.
Bennett really is a fantastic young player with huge potential. He's yet to score for Derby but that's down to a combination of good goalkeeper and the woodwork (sound familiar?) rather than poor finishing. Bennett has been compared to Wayne Rooney and while it's obviously too early to accurately make such comparisons, the potential and talent are certainly there.
Bennett is a player that Liverpool really must sign if they want to build for a successful future. Having missed out on Shearer as a player, Rooney as a kid, and Wickham last summer, they can't afford to let another great striking talent pass them by.
Buying Bennett and loaning him back to Derby for a year or so might be the best way to make this deal work. Derby will know that it's in their best interests to sell now rather than wait until the rules regarding payment for the development of young players change when they would face receiving only a fraction of the amount.
Byron Lawrence is an ultra-talented midfielder who has been drawing attention from Arsenal for close to six months now and has also drawn comparisons to current Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere. All at the age of only 15.
Current Ispwich manager Paul Jewell, when asked about Lawrence, said the following:
“Byron Lawrence, the lad who was in the squad [for the Carling Cup match] against Northampton, he’s one who is a bright prospect and who reminds me of a Jack Wilshere-type player.
“He’s built that way, he uses his body and he’s a clever player. Whenever he trains with the first team he never looks out of place. He could feature this season.”
Wilshere is of course the biggest talent England has produced since Wayne Rooney and is the type of player Liverpool fans would love. I've also seen comparisons drawn between Lawrence and Chelsea's Josh McEachran. If that's the sort of player that Lawrence projects to be, then he's definitely a player Liverpool should be looking at with their eyes on the future of the club.
As with Bennett I would like to see a purchase and loan back type deal here.
Manchester City signed Joe Hart for roughly £700,000 from Shrewsbury Town and he has gone on to prove that there is exceptionally talented young players at lower league clubs. Hart has established himself as one of the best goalkeepers in Europe and the England No. 1 and is likely to stay as the England No. 1 for quite a few years.
Until this kid takes the shirt from him that is.
The oldest player on this list at 18, Jack Butland is a fantastic young goalkeeper who has really caught the eye with his performances for the England underage teams as well as during a loan spell with Cheltenham Town. He's been linked with a number of Premier League clubs and Liverpool have been mentioned as having an interest.
It's an interest they should follow up on, Butland is the right age and has the right amount of talent and potential to replace Pepe Reina in the Liverpool goal in four to five years. Liverpool haven't had a great English goalkeeper since the incredible Ray Clemence left for Spurs in 1981, that's a gap of 30 years, Butland can put an end to it.
Liverpool could buy Butland, sign him to a long term contract and then loan him out for a couple of seasons, similar to what City did with Hart.
How many players make a mark in a major European competition at the age of 17? Very few I'd imagine.
Nathan Redmond is one of those few having impressed already in the Europa League this season for Birmingham City. Born and bred in Birmingham, Redmond joined his boyhood club at the age of eight has made quick progress through the ranks, making his first team debut at only 16 years and 173 days old.
He's a wonderfully talented winger who can play both flanks, but prefers to left where he can cut inside onto his favoured right foot. He's in the mould of Ashley Young but a lot better than Young was at the same age and with the potential to be a better player.
Redmond would be the most expensive player on this list, likely costing close to £10 million but when you consider that Arsenal paid a lot more for Oxlade-Chamberlain it's a decent price in my opinion.
The thought of Redmond and Raheem Sterling terrorizing defences on opposite wings, with both having the ability to play both flanks, is one that really makes me want to drag Damien Comolli to St. Andrews with John Henry's chequebook in hand and make him sign Redmond. While we were there he could sign Butland too.
I believe that the four players I have just listed are among the best young players in England, not just outside of the Premier League but including all the young players at every Premier League club.
Two of them are 15, one is 17 and the other is 18. Signing these players would give Liverpool some fantastic talent for the long term and allow them to focus the majority of their transfer funds on improving the current first team.
By doing this Liverpool can compete for the Premier League title sooner rather than later but also ensure that there are young players at the club capable of replacing the senior players down the line and bringing the club on to further success, and do that with a mostly English team.
If you feel there are any other young English players at clubs outside the Premier League that Liverpool should be looking at feel free to comment below.
I would like to take a moment to ask you to consider donating to this very worthy cause. Any amount will help and what better way to start a new year than to help a young boy to walk?
I'd like to thank you for taking the time to read this article; feel free to leave your thoughts and comments below. And if you've got a minute to spare, don't forget to vote for who YOU believe is the greatest Liverpool goalkeeper of all time. I've decided to make the greatest-ever articles a fortnightly feature, rather than a weekly one so you've still got a week left to vote.