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The Valuation of James Milner: A Transfer Market Comparison

james milner The Valuation of James Milner: A Transfer Market Comparison

Yesterday I had a short conversation on Twitter with EPL Talk’s very own Laurence McKenna that went something like this:

lozcast: Mascherano = £25m? Milner = £25m+? Discuss

JesseChula: @lozcast Milner=versatile, can play either wing or in the middle, young. Masch=solid, likes to kick people. Ya know, get stuck in.Seems fair

lozcast: @JesseChula Still don’t get the valuation difference. Masch is…! Milner is good, best in his ‘position’ in the world? Not sure…

JesseChula: @lozcast is Masch best in world in his position? De Jong, Cambiasso, Busquets??

The debate really could have gone on and on, but McKenna’s points got me thinking about the valuation of James Milner compared to that of the captain of Argentina and then further, his value compared to that of other big names that have completed a transfer this summer. The open transfer window always brings stories of over-priced players, but how close is the £25m price tag placed on Milner to being a fair assessment of what he’s actually worth?

Milner looks set to finally leave Aston Villa after suitors Manchester City seem willing to up their bid for the 24 year old England international. But is Milner’s English-ness a large contributor to his potentially over-inflated transfer fee City look set to pay? Let’s face it, good to above average English players will always go for around the same price that good to great foreign players will go for simply because they aren’t a dime a dozen and every Premier League club wants at least a few.

Originally, City bid some £18m plus an extra payment of £2m later on only to be rejected by Aston Villa as too low a bid for their prized midfielder – a classic case of the club who owns the player holding out for more dough because they know they can get it.

Equally, Inter Milan are bidding for the services of Javier Mascherano from Liverpool who set the bar high at £30m with Inter looking closer to the £20m mark to secure Mascherano’s services. All variables point to the two clubs meeting somewhere in the middle. As McKenna stated on Twitter, the two midfielders could end up going for close to the same amount.

Of course we know the two midfield players are largely different in what they bring to their respective teams. Mascherano is a deep lying, defensive midfielder who’s good in the tackle and an effective protector of the back four. Milner is most comfortable as an attacking winger dribbling down the flanks and crossing the ball into the box. Yet he can also play in the center of the pitch in a more attacking role and can score goals. The two are separated by only 2 years in age and are both experienced Premier League and International players. So which one is really worth more? Or, is it even possible to tell?

A like for like comparison of the two players just doesn’t work, and which player could benefit his new side more than the other depends on more than just that one player – it depends on the supporting cast, the system, tactics, etc. In order for McKenna and I to settle our conversation, we must look at some recent activity in the transfer market this summer to make a realistic comparison and find middle ground.

As of press time, the most expensive Premier League transfer of the summer has been the signing of YaYa Toure by Manchester City from Barcelona for £28m, second is David Silva from Valencia also to City for £24m, which means Milner could go to the Citizens for almost the exact same fee as World Cup winner David Silva, or if  Aston Villa up their asking price, Milner could go for close to what City payed Barcelona for their Champions League winning defensive midfielder, Toure.

When put in that kind of perspective, McKenna’s original point on Milner’s value seems closer to the truth than I originally thought. However, wouldn’t worth simply be defined as how much a certain club is willing to pay for a player?

This, however, can be dissected in two ways. First off, as previously stated, McKenna could be correct in his theory that he thought the £25m was simply too much for Milner. This would be a likely outcome if the issue was simply black and white with no gray area to contend with.

The second and more likely outcome to the debate would be that due to City’s willingness to throw what cash they need to in order to get their man, they’ve unknowingly tainted and inflated the transfer market during the summer. This is simply transfer market 101 and has been repeated time and time again since the Premier League’s inception. Clubs realize City’s intentions to punch high above their weight in buying up numerous players, they’ll therefore hold out for more cash because they know City have it to spend.

Regardless of your opinion, the next few days and weeks will likely tell us exactly what Milner is worth – which again, I believe to be exactly whatever the club buying him value him at, regardless of if we think it’s over-inflated.

Am I prepared to place Milner’s name in with Toure and Silva? Well, maybe not just yet, but with his Premier League experience, attacking flair and ever growing potential, he could just be up there with Mascherano.