Is Bent really worth more than Henry?

Over the past week many Arsenal fans have been shocked to hear that their ‘greatest ever’ was sold for the ‘miserable’ fee of £16.1m. Meanwhile the rest of England was equally shocked to hear that former Charlton striker Darren Bent commanded a higher transfer fee (£16.5m) than the Arsenal legend.

And although it is obvious that Tottenham have been ripped off by Charlton, it might not be as outrageous as many people think that Darren Bent cost more than Thierry Henry. In truth there are many factors that might just make Bent a more valuable player than Henry.

First off, and one of the biggest factors in Bent’s ‘outrageous’ transfer fee, is his age. At 23, there is still a possibility that he will improve and become a top Premiership striker. And even if he will not become the kind of player that will instill fear in any defender he faces, his peak years are still ahead of him. Thus his potential re-sale value seems to be a respectable one. By contrast, Henry, at 30 years of age has already reached and passed the peak of his career. What he seems to posses more than anything now is experience and it is unlikely that, should he decide to leave Barcelona before the end of his contract, any club will pay anything near the £16m transfer fee he commands these days.

Then there is the additional issue of wages. According to Galliani, Henry asked for a whopping €200.000/week net – after tax – salary to join Milan (it is expected that Barcelona offered a similar salary); according to The Guardian, Darren Bent will earn less than half of that before tax. Given the difference between the two players’ wages it becomes easy to see that Barcelona have paid more than Tottenham in acquiring their man. If both reports are to be believed than simple math tells us that by the end of the season Barcelona will have dished out nearly €40m on Henry, while Tottenham will have spent almost €27m on Bent.

Next off, Henry’s value will have been affected by the fact that he has played in the same league, under the same manager and at the same team for the past eight years. Not very inspiring given that he never really performed anywhere other than at Arsenal. Suddenly changing his style of play from being the man the team was moulded around to being forced to mould around another superstar, or two, might affect his game greatly. Add the fact that he has changed leagues and coach for the first time in eight years, Henry might have a very difficult season ahead of him. However Bent will not be worried about changing leagues or as a matter of fact, his manager (four times during his two years at Charlton he has been introduced to a new coach).

There is one more department where Bent beats Henry, and a crucial department at that: fitness. Despite Darren Bent have been out of action for almost three months earlier this season, it was more or less the only major injury he has had to deal with since he joined Charlton in 2005. Since 2005, Henry has struggled with several injuries and this season more than ever in his career. As a result Henry will be nowhere near match-fit at the start of the new season, having only played in 17 games this season (ironically only one less than new teammate Samuel Eto’o).

In Henry’s favour, for a change, he has demonstrated consistently over the past eight years that he is a truly magnificent player blessed with tons of talent. In his Arsenal career he has made 364 appearances and scored 226 times, while making 82 assists. Now that is as good a goal-to-game ratio as anyone’s, and much better that Darren Bent’s good ratio of 31 goals in 68 Charlton appearances. He also seems to be a player with a good character and plenty of experience, both of which Rijkaard seems to value greatly.

It is expected that those who wish to defend Barcelona’s acquisition of the French striker, will point to the precedent set by Larsson, who also arrived at the Nou Camp after a career at Celtic similar to that of Henry at Arsenal. However in light of the comparison above, I think that Darren Bent purchase was the better bit of business deal. And since many would agree that Tottenham spent too much for their new striker, it can be argued that Barcelona paid too much for Henry. And remember what their offer was last year!

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