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Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling And The Problem of Overpriced Domestic Players

England has done it again. Disappointed that is. 

The England Under 21 side lost to Italy this week by 3 goals to 1. The loss left the Three Lions at the bottom of Group B with only 3 points from their 3 matches, and eliminated from the U21 European Championships. Typical of England, to say the least.

England entered this tournament with higher expectations than usual, mostly because of one man: Tottenham Hotspurs poacher, Harry Kane. 

Kane, who just came off an incredible Premier League campaign in which he scored 21 goals, was expected to lead the line for this young England side. This summer was going to be different for England. They were supposed to make a deep run, have a real chance at lifting the European Championship. Instead they are going home early - way too early.

For Kane, it was his chance to prove he is worth all the hype he generated last season. Talk of an imminent move to Manchester United has inundated the English media this Summer, with United rumored to be bidding as high as 35 million pounds for the young number nine. But is Kane really worth that much? Or is it yet another case of an English player being overvalued and overhyped by the English press?

Examples such as Andy Carroll and Luke Shaw come to mind when thinking of young Englishmen who were perhaps valued too much, too soon. Andy Carroll's situation in particular mirrors Kane’s. Carroll transferred from Newcastle United to Liverpool on the last day of the winter transfer window in 2011. The price tag – the same as Kane’s rumored fee – a staggering 35 million pounds. 

Now, everybody knows how that move turned out. Carroll was a massive disappointment at Anfield, scoring just six goals in one and a half seasons with Liverpool. A massive flop for a player who, to this day, remains the most expensive English striker of all-time. 

Is Kane set to follow a similar path? Was last season a one-off? Is it all too much too soon for the young HurriKane?

Harry Kane isn’t the only English player set to be weighed down by a massive price tag this summer. Liverpool star Raheem Sterling may command an even larger fee. Current rumors have Raheem priced at 40 million pounds, a full five million higher than Andy Carroll’s fee in 2011. Is Sterling worth that much? What has he done to command such a massive price? Probably not enough.

Yes, Sterling is England’s most talented young player today. He blisters with pace and skill that any Englishman would envy. Yet, he scored only 11 goals this season and, more importantly, he failed to lead a Liverpool team that needed him to pick up the scoring slack. Liverpool was without Sterling’s front partner, Daniel Sturridge, for a large part of the season, and needed more from Sterling in the goals department. 

Now, is it Sterling’s fault that Liverpool finished sixth and outside of the final Champions League spot? Of course not. He is only twenty years old. But, that is exactly why he doesn’t deserve such a hefty transfer fee. He hasn’t earned the right. So Manchester City should think twice before coughing up that much cash. Too much, too soon, again.

Manchester United made the mistake of paying 30 million pounds for wingback Luke Shaw last summer, and to say Shaw underwhelmed in his first season at Old Trafford would be an understatement. When Shaw wasn’t injured, he was being criticized by manager Louis Van Gaal for being out of shape and lacking match fitness. The fact of the matter is, questions of fitness aside, the jump from Southampton to Manchester United was indeed too steep for 19-year-old Shaw. Sure, he can and probably will bounce back in years to come, but he definitely wasn’t worth 30 million pounds at the time, regardless.

This is a symptom of the modern game, English footballers are overpriced in England. Spanish footballers are overpriced in Spain, likewise for Germany. A domestic player is an inflated player. Why? Well of course: marketing. 

Homegrown players mean a lot to the public of a nation. These homegrown players not only represent the club, but, in a way, the whole country. Why else would Real Madrid shell out 34 million pounds for glorified benchwarmer Asier Illarramendi? Real Madrid need Spanish players to make their Spanish fans feel more connected to the squad. To sell more shirts with local heroes written on the back. 

Gone are the days where a club side is made up of mostly their country’s own internationals, so any domestic player a team can buy, they have to pay a premium for. 

Even Bayern Munich did so. They paid 31.5 million pounds for Mario Gotze, although that move may eventually pay off. But then again, not every domestic player scores the World Cup winning goal and becomes a national hero, either. Mario Gotze is a special case, a living legend who the people of Germany will always love. 

In other words, Gotze is priceless.  

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