James McClean. If only every signing could be this good. And cheap.

When Joe Allen completed his £15m move to Anfield this week there were the usual gripes aired in some quarters about the premium price paid once again for domestic talent.

Generally the theory holds true that clubs have to pay over the odds if they wish to bring in a Brit but perhaps in this instance the thinking is flawed – Allen after all is a tremendous player with immense potential so the fee presumably would not have differed much even if he had a ‘Di’ in the middle of his name.

Even so, there is no questioning that the British transfer market is inflated beyond its actual value (£35m for Andy Carroll anyone?) and due to this exasperated clubs have long flung their nets further afield in the search for cheaper, equally proficient, talent.

This – or so the theory extends – has had a considerably detrimental effect on our national teams as promising domestic players are priced out of their dream moves to the big time (and all the top level competition and experience that offers) overlooked instead for a twinkle-toed Serb with a bargain price tag.

But how much of this widely-held theory rings true? Do English players indeed offer the worst value for money in a multi-million pound market? And if they do, which country offers the most bang per buck?

The Cutter attempted to find this out using last summer’s completed transfer window as our barometer and perhaps in doing so put a few misconceptions to bed.

We say ‘attempted’ because in reality of course it’s impossible to fully determine such a thing due to the analysis of the player’s contributions being entirely subjective.

To this end we recruited three football nerds (I’m sorry lads but you just are) who were given the names of every Premier League signing last summer who played more than three occasions for their new club. Loans and frees were omitted in this study.

The 68 players who moved to a top flight club for a fee last year – for a startling combined figure of £471.6M – were then all individually assessed by our three boffins and rated. From the three ratings on each player an average was then calculated.

We then placed each player into the country of their origin – for example there were 28 English players who moved to a Premier League club last summer. The combined ratings of these players were then set against the combined fees from that country (in England’s case £172m) to find a group percentage.

So how was this percentage determined? Well I’ve been informed twice (the second time broken down like cold fusion theory being explained to Kerry Katona) and I still don’t have a scooby beyond it involving a lot of multiplying and dividing. I got some satisfaction from hearing that Sergio Aguero got 10% whereas Ashley Young only amassed 4% but then my brain started to short-circuit.

Rest assured however that the maths boffin we asked to do this knows his mustard.

Before we reveal our conclusions there must be, as that bearded twunt Noel Edmonds insists upon calling it, a bit of ‘housekeeping’.

Unfortunately there are secondary factors to consider – for example the fact that foreign players traditionally take longer to adapt to the British game which means that gauging them on their first season might be construed as unfair. Additionally it is perhaps easier to accrue a higher rating when surrounded by better players and better clubs.

These aspects proved impossible to factor in.

There were also a surprising number of countries that only had one new representative in the Premier League last season. So Germany (Mertesacker), Italy (Santon) and Holland (Vorm) were placed, amongst others such as Lukaku, Savic and Riise in a ‘Rest of Europe’ category.

The same applies to Argentina (Aguero) and Brazil (Santos) in a ‘South American’ category.

The results

(The best value-for-money countries have the highest percentages)

Ireland – 91%

Africa – 83%

Rest of World (South Korea, Oman and Honduras) – 74%

France – 67%

S. America – 61%

Spain – 58%

Rest of Europe – 53%

British – 32%

This is food for thought to say the least. Not only does it prove the adage that British players are over-priced but I’d say by some considerable distance.

I’m reluctant to divulge this but unfortunately the Scots have quite a part to play in this shortcoming. All four of their representatives – Alan Hutton, Shaun Maloney, David Goodwillie and Charlie Adam – scored poorly in our ratings with Adam’s costly fee only exacerbating matters. Meanwhile costly ‘flops’ Conor Wickham and Stewart Downing did such damage with their price tags they could not be compensated by the cheap consummate performers such as Anthony Pilkington and Scott Parker.

The stark truth is that you’d have to be a raving lunatic to even consider buying an English player this summer. Or Kenny Dalglish.

Whereas if you want top performers for the least expenditure it is far best to go Irish despite three of the four Irishmen (Shay Given, John O’Shea and Shane Long) being signed from British clubs. All four rated highly and though ironically it was their most expensive player who received the lowest rating (Long) the incredible debut season of £350,000 steal James McClean more than compensated.

Africa’s high placement may be a surprise to some but Gervinho aside the rest of the African contingent were bought for a pittance with Yakubu in particular doing his continent proud.

Spain were largely undone by their exorbitant price tags. It is worth mentioning that out of their seven representatives in this study five received ratings of 70% or over.

Which illustrates perhaps that as long as your club have deep pockets and the backing of a billionaire then Spain still constitutes a decent place to do your summer shopping.

Whereas if you want to pay vastly over the odds for mixed results then you only have to look on your own doorstep.