Glazers’ decision to sell James Garner to Everton could have multiple repercussions.


In a rather surprising move three weeks ago, Manchester United marked their academy product, James Garner, as available for transfer.

The 21-year-old enjoyed two successful loan spells at Nottingham Forest, playing an intrinsic midfield role in their promotion to the Premier League.

Garner, who captained England at various youth levels, had been seen by avid United fans as a key player for the future; as a player who could have emulated the former midfield greats who progressed through their academy system.

While on loan at Forest, Garner showed his ability to advance his footballing intelligence by being deployed in versatile roles by Steve Cooper. Having initially played in the deeper area of ​​midfield, he has evolved into an attack-oriented box-to-box player.

Since returning to Old Trafford at the end of last season, however, things have not gone to plan.

With high hopes for this season pinned on Garner establishing himself as a member of Manchester United’s first team, the hierarchy instead slapped a £15million sale sign on the youngster in mid-August .

Unsurprisingly, a host of Premier League clubs showed immediate interest. According AthleticismSouthampton, Tottenham Hotspur, Everton, Nottingham Forest and Leeds have all inquired about a deal.

Everton sealed the transfer on deadline day, acquiring Garner on a four-year deal for an initial fee of £9m (potential to reach £15.5m with add-ons). What does this transfer symbolize?

As far as financial motivations are concerned, there is reason to be surprised by the rather low fees (today).

In comparison to other Premier League transfers involving young British players moving to different Premier League clubs, Garner appears to have been massively undervalued by United financiers.

Former Liverpool full-back Neco Williams has been bought by newly promoted club Nottingham Forest for £17million, having played fourteen times for Fulham last season in the Championship.

Garner, on the other hand, made sixty-one appearances in total over an eighteen month spell in the Championship with Forest. United valued him at £3m less than the amount Liverpool earned for Williams.

While that comparison cries of incompetence within United’s hierarchical decision-making, there are mitigating factors for William’s excessive fee – the Welshman has already acquired twenty-one international caps and thirteen Premier League appearances under Jürgen Klopp .

Indeed, it would be a valid argument were it not for Dylan Levitt: another United academy product who moved to Dundee United this summer.

Levitt was bought for just £300,000 by Dundee following an inspired loan in Scotland. Known for his passing, silky technical ability and composed style of play, Levitt could have fit into the template Ten Hag wanted for a midfielder.

Also a Welshman like Williams, Levitt not only played twelve times for his county but also gained invaluable professional and personal experience playing abroad during his loan spell at Istra 1961 in Croatia.

United received 57 times less for Levitt than the fee Liverpool ordered for Williams. An embarrassing indictment of the club’s consistent failure to negotiate large incoming fees.

Second, from a young player’s perspective, what does Garner’s transfer list suggest to fellow academy undergraduates trying to slowly make their way into the first team?

Garner has plied his trade in the Championship – to an incredibly successful degree; delivered at international youth level; was named by Juan Mata as a player to watch; received United first-team appearances; and play the position in which United are depleted in both numbers and quality.

What does his transfer out of the club suggest to, say, Ethan Laird or Hannibal Mejbri? The pair are expected to feature prominently for Queens Park Rangers and Birmingham City, respectively, in the Championship this season.

Should they cancel their life’s work and long-term hopes of playing for their dream club?
Transferring Garner at a shockingly low fee – for a player of his quality and experience – could therefore put United’s youth network at risk.

Why do the best young players – who are sold the hope and dream of playing first-team football at Old Trafford – sign a contract with a club that will sell them, no matter how talented and hard the individual? Indeed, sales of academy products can be expected and are part of the football cycle. But even though Garner has earned his stripes and is still just 21, United were desperate to get rid of (which the low asking price would suggest). This is not the most optimistic message to send to hopeful young people.

Instead of advancing Garner’s development at the club, United are looking to fund expenses for young talent from other academies (see Antony’s latest sky-high deal, for example) – unproven in both mentality “United standard” and in the quality departments in which Garner has strived.

Is the pressure of playing for the academy of one of the biggest clubs in the world, and the dedication, hard work and aspirations that come with it, worth the inevitable betrayal?

Glazers’ decision to sell James Garner to Everton could have multiple repercussions.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.