Monday, August 24, 2009
Joleon Lescott for Everton (vs Liverpool), 25 January 2009
After one of the more acrimonious transfer sagas of the year, it finally looks as though Everton centre-half, Joleon Lescott is going to be allowed to move to Manchester City for something like £22m.
I'm not an oil-rich billionaire, it's true, but £24m for a 27 year old defender seems like an awful lot of money to me.
Yes, Ronaldo might have gone for €94m and Kaka for €68m, but they're not exactly your archetypal, common or garden clogger, are they? This is a market where Arsenal signed Thomas Vermaelen for £10m, Birmingham signed Roger Johnson from Cardiff for £5m, Chelsea signed Yuri Zhirkov for £18m, and even Liverpool only paid a mere £18m when they signed Glenn Johnson from Portsmouth. Manchester City themselves signed Kolo Toure for a bargain £16m. In the context of those transfers, £24m is surely an exorbitant price for any defender bar one of the very highest quality. Is he worth £8m more than the 28-year old Toure? I don't think so.
Which brings us to Joleon Lescott. I'm a Wolves fan, so I'm well aware of what a decent player he is. Lescott made his debut for Wolves in August 2000 at the age of 17 years old, and he played a total of 212 games for us before his move up to the Premier League. Sadly, he was injured throughout our last sojourn in the Premier League, but he was one of those players who gave the club such excellent service that you don't begrudge them their move when the time comes. Besides, with an immediate payment of £2 million, followed by a further £2 million paid in installments and a final £1 million contingent on appearances, it's hard to say that we didn't get a good deal.
So has Lescott gone from being a £5m player to a £24m player in the space of barely three years? Alright, he's accumulated 7 England caps, but he remains well back in the queue for his position behind the likes of John Terry, Rio Ferdinand , Matthew Upson and even his Everton Clubmate, Phil Jagielka. There are other, younger, English defenders around too: Gary Cahill, the Bolton Wanderers centre-half is only 23 years old and has already been called up by Fabio Capello into the England squad this year as cover for Ferdinand. Looking back at the Wolves squad, what of Michael Mancienne, a 21 year old who has also caught Capello's eye in the same position? Chelsea are unlikely to want to sell, but it shows that there is other, younger talent around.... none of it much further than Lescott from the England side.
Yup, when you add it all together, £24m sounds like an awful lot of money to pay for a player like Joleon Lescott. It's an awful lot to pay for a defender full-stop, isn't it? Yes, it's true that Rio Ferdinand cost £30m back in 2002, but he was 24 years old then and had already been an England International for 5 years; I don't think anyone is seriously suggesting that Lescott - who was only capped by England after his move to Everton - has that kind of potential. Are they?
I know Manchester City have got a lot of money, but does this transfer make sense on any level?
Still, as a Wolves fan, what should I care? Learning from the mistakes we made with Robbie Keane, Lescott had a 15% sell on clause as part of the deal that saw him move from Wolves to Everton. This is a nice piece of business that could see Wolves net something like £3.5m from his move to Manchester City. Not to be sniffed at.
We might be able to buy a new centre-half with that.