One overarching theme looks set to dominate this summer’s transfer gossip columns and it’s not Yaya Toure’s inevitable departure from Manchester City or their cross-town rivals’ forecast spending spree.
Instead it will be the Premier League’s resident Rockafellas and their attempts to get themselves on the right side of the home-grown player rule by paying over the odds for the best young England internationals currently operating in the domestic top tier.
Thursday’s back pages, both physical and virtual, carry the latest manifestations of the trend, with Manchester United joining Chelsea, City and Arsenal in being linked with the signing of Raheem Sterling and West Brom’s Saido Berahino also on the Citizens’ radar.
Such moves may fulfil quotas for the clubs and swell the bank accounts of the players concerned, but they could have drastic consequences for the England team, for whom the next wave of internationals could end up becoming ‘Generation Substitute’.
Fast forward even one summer and the Three Lions could be headed into Euro 2016 with many of their most revered young talents starved of first-team football having found the cream of the world’s talent impossible to dislodge from their new employers’ starting line-ups.
Such grey sky thinking makes the 9/4 about England reaching the last four in France next summer look very short, but is it really unnecessary pessimism?
Take the examples of Sterling, Berahino or indeed Everton’s Ross Barkley. Not one would be anywhere near a guaranteed starter for any of the sides who make up the current top four and could see their faltering development hindered even further as a result.
The continuing travails of Danny Welbeck, once more at best an able back-up having swapped Man Utd for Arsenal, are a recent example of the fate that may await all three should they bite the bullet and move on up.
If the home-grown hungry Champions League clubs get their men this summer, England’s bright young things may have spent a decent portion of three seasons in bit-part roles come the next World Cup in 2018.
Worse still, they may already have been sucked in, chewed up, spat out and playing for Sunderland by the time they attempt to land odds of 5/2 about reaching the quarter finals in Russia.