Europe – Value for Money

My final piece in my VALUE FOR MONEY SERIES concentrates on possible imports from Europe. A big issue with the English game is the attitude to foreign talent being better than our own and the argument that they are cheaper. I disagree with that statement in the sense that any club abroad adopts the EFL mindset that if the Premier League comes knocking the fee increases by 20% at least. Of course English players are overpriced too hence this series. The following players could offer some sort of value:

Shinji Kagawa – English fans will remember him for his 2 years at Man Utd and maybe consider his tenure was a failure, but he was at the club during the most difficult period for over 30 years, Sir Alex’s last season (premier league winning) and David Moyes’s one season in charge. Many good players have gone to Utd and not set the world alight but prospered elsewhere. During his 1st season he scored 6 goals in 20 from attacking midfield which fits his career average of 1 in 3. During the January window Dortmund was offering him for around £2-3 million but only Besiktas showed an interest for a loan deal. With a year to go on his contract and only just turned 30 he is surely worth a punt for any side outside the top 10. Clubs like Burnley, Brighton and Southampton are lacking creative players or depth in that role. The fee would be a bargain for someone of his experience.

Joel Veltman – Being ousted by De Ligt and the defensive youth talent is nothing to be ashamed about and this season he either knuckles down and takes his place back or decide to move on like a few of his team mates. Coming up to 28 (next Jan) and a year on his contract a bid of around £5-10m could not be ignored for a full international who can play either full back or centre back. London clubs like Arsenal, West Ham or Palace would be attractive destinations for a man used to living in a cosmopolitan city, Arsenal being a place where he would fit into a squad role like Ajax.

Alberto Grassi – The Napoli defensive midfielder has never played for the 1st team, he has only played for other Serie A clubs on loan. At 24 it’s maybe time to try and gain 1st team football outside of Italy. He will not be cheap due to his age and time left on his contract (2022) but if a loan deal with a permanent transfer agreement (£8m+) could be made this talented, strong & tall defensive midfielder could be a Tielemans type signing. The bottom sides would probably see him as too much of a risk as they need men to hit the ground running but he is the type of talent Bournemouth, Watford or Newcastle would go for.

Janik Haberer – More of a midfielder than striker, his size (6ft2in), pedigree (German U21 Euro winner in 2017) and versatility are boxes which tick any top level scouts wish list. His contract runs out next summer so any bid of around £5m+ would be tempting for Freiburg to maybe cash in on a lad who has never fulfilled his early promise. With so many clubs looking to play 4-3-3 reverting to a 4-5-1 without the ball he suits the formation to a tee. His signing would be very risky for any newly promoted side or last seasons stragglers Brighton & Burnley. Southampton with their hilarious social media videos seems like his sort of home especially as he is a tall version of Shane Long.

Claudio Marchisio – Most definitely at the end of his career, his legs have probably gone due to his energetic box to box midfield style during his prime for Juve and a recent poor spell at Zenit his signing could be very risky. If he is asking for sensible wages though he could be this seasons Cambiasso for a bottom 6 team. If nursed through the season (not needed v Man City or Liverpool) and plugged in for the 6 pointers he could be the X Factor a Brighton or Sheff Utd need to stay up. His winning mentality would rub off well on his team mates, ultimately I would see him prefer a move to a club in or around London.

I hope you have enjoyed my VALUE FOR MONEY SERIES and I look forward to seeing if any of my picks move to the Premier League over the next month.