Alan Biggs: Sheffield United and Wednesday can keep their best young talent by moving up with them - until then, there's always the sell-on
So, what is England World Cup winner Dominic Calvert-Lewin worth now? And, before you ask, that is not a dig at Sheffield United for selling him.
Three reasons;- 1. United’s transfer sums, squared off by Calvert-Lewin’s minimum £1.4m move to Everton, added up to a spectacular promotion. 2. Would the then teenager have had the status and confidence to perform such a deed had he remained in League One? 3. His value could have soared had United kept and played him – but could they have topped 100 points?
Obviously it’s beyond dispute that in an ideal world the Blades would have retained the latest of many fledgling talents to fly the Shirecliffe academy and that Calvert-Lewin is now worth multiples of the fee they negotiated, with the player having also starred in the Premier League for Everton.
How much? Well, the man who led his development in Sheffield has posed a £10m question - and even that might be a conservative estimate. The measure is that £10m was around what Everton paid Charlton in January for Calvert-Lewin’s club mate and England Under 20s sidekick Ademola Lookman.
Former Blades academy chief Nick Cox, now with Manchester United, replied to me on Twitter, asking: “What would he (DCL) be worth today? As much as his strike partner Lookman maybe?”
Beyond question is that Everton’s policy of buying talent from lower down and, unlike other top flight clubs, actually trusting in it is great to see.
If only United can get there themselves and keep products for their own use.
Right, who’s had a belly-full of politics? Who’s tasted more than enough vitriol for one month? Not exactly talking a coalition here, but can we have a cross-party agreement between the constituencies of S2 and S6 that Sheffield is doing rather well right now at producing young players for national teams?
And without any petty point scoring over the fact that, of the three in question, one club has produced two and the other one? So let’s have them in alphabetical surname order – David Brooks, Calvert-Lewin and George Hirst.
But, by way of balance, you’ll have read far more on these pages – so far – about the third name than the other two. Tilting it the other way, let’s acknowledge that the “other two” have rolled off the more productive of the two conveyor belts in recent years.
Hopefully we can all agree that it reflects as well on the city as it does on the country that DCL scored that World Cup winner against Venezuela and that Bramall Lane’s Brooks was the Toulon Tournament’s “player of the tournament” as he teamed up with the Owls’ Hirst (the competition’s joint top scorer) in a further national Under 20s triumph by the shadow squad.
Clearly Hirst needs senior football next season as the next step. Brooks will get it on loan with Chesterfield and Wednesday should follow suit with George who, still considered short of regular first team involvement, will be in heavy demand after 40 goals in the last campaign.
Some question his physical strength at this stage – which is all the more reason for a loan – but the talent I saw in the Wednesday Under 23s play-off win over Hull was exciting beyond any doubt. Shades of Hirst senior in his movement, pace, instinct and touch.
To gain that durability, George needs league football. Hopefully, Hirst and Brooks will go on to shine for their current clubs, rather than take the Calvert-Lewin route to stardom. The key can be moving up with them.