Rio Ferdinand has described Liverpool's £50m valuation of Raheem Sterling as a "joke", and said leading English players are massively overpriced.
Liverpool this week rejected a bid from Manchester City for Sterling worth around £40m. Despite the England winger's desire to leave Anfield, Liverpool are understood only to be prepared to sell him should they receive an offer close to £50m.
Ferdinand, who broke the British transfer record in 2002 when he joined Manchester United from Leeds United for £30m, said valuations of the kind Liverpool have placed on Sterling showed there is a huge premium added to young English players.
He also cited England U-21 striker Harry Kane, who has said he wants to stay at Tottenham Hotspur but who has been claimed to be a target for Manchester United, as another example of overpriced English talent.
English players are soooo overpriced right now it's a joke! Kane & sterling have huge potential but 40m & 50m...aguero 38m & sanchez 32m!!!— Rio Ferdinand (@rioferdy5) June 20, 2015
Ferdinand said: "English players are so overpriced right now, it's a joke! Kane & Sterling have huge potential, but £40m & £50m? (Sergio) Aguero cost £38m, and Alexis Sanchez cost £32m!"
Aguero and Sanchez joined Manchester City and Arsenal respectively at a time when they were already established as global stars at the peak of their powers.
The most expensive English footballer of all time - a record Sterling will eclipse if he completes a move to Manchester City - is Andy Carroll, for whom Liverpool paid £36m in 2011. Carroll was then sold to West Ham for a hugely reduced fee and has struggled with injuries. His fee was £4million more than Chelsea paid in 2014 for their leading centre-forward, the Brazil-born Spain international Diego Costa.
Costa scored one fewer Premier League goal than Kane last season, although both trailed Aguero.
City are expected to make an improved offer for Sterling, although it is likely to fall short of Liverpool's full £50m valuation.
It is a measure of just how famous Harry Kane has become in the past nine months that the travelling fans in the Czech Republic from Sweden, whom England play at the European U-21s Championship tomorrow, already have a song about him.