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Where potential carries a hefty premium
“T Henry + £0.5m = D Bent. Solve the algebraic puzzle”, was how one reader of the Guardians Fiver reacted to Darren Bents club record £16.5 million move from relegated Charlton Athletic to Tottenham Hotspur on Friday.
A lot of people are struggling to come up with a satisfactory solution. At Who Ate All The Pies 80 percent of fans voted him as “overpriced”, while even Tottenham bloggers like Jay at The Offside and We Are Hotspur seem to be in two minds.
Henry, who is nearing a century caps for France, has twice finished a season as Europes top goalscorer and amassed a neat collection of World Cup, European Championship and Premier League medals in the process.
While the significantly younger Bent has scored with marked consistency in a struggling team, he has made as many international appearances as he has played full top-flight seasons. Just two.
Spurs have bought one of the few truly clinical finishers remaining in the English game but at a huge cost. Added to the equally staggering sum demanded for 17-year-old left back Gareth Bale, the London club have spent a lavish £26 million on two essentially unproven players.
To many, the millions spent will be further proof of the overpricing of English players. When the value of Manchester Citys 18-year-old England defender Micah Richards can be reported at a million sterling per birthday celebrated, it appears that potential, not experience marks the spot where the money now lies.
Are Rafael Benitez and Arsene Wenger correct then to defend their foreign acquisitions, blaming the impossibilities of the British transfer system? Or should Spurs be commended for buying British, no matter what the cost?
Padraic Halpin, London