Tick tock. Tick tock. The clock is most certainly ticking for Jürgen Klopp to add to his current Liverpool squad. The question I’m asking today is a simple one: Does he want to? One thing we know for certain is that he wants to get rid of some of the excess players that remain on our books, but I’m not convinced that he has any desire whatsoever to buy in players the players that our support group is convinced that we absolutely, desperately need.
Last week I said that this would be the last transfer rumour column that I would write and that may well be the case. With the window ‘slamming shut’ on Wednesday there’s not much point in writing another one at the start of next week. If we end up going on a major signing spree in the next five days then that might all change, of course, but the likelihood is that this time next week I’ll be writing a piece having a look at the state of the squad as we head into the season proper. We’ll be in the middle of the international break next Friday after all, so what else will I have to write about?
Stubborn Or Settled? What Does The Manager Want?
There’s a universe in which Rafael Benitez was 1% less stubborn as a manager during his time at Anfield, I’m convinced of it. In that world Liverpool won the Champions League in 2007 because Peter Crouch starts the game. We then go on to win the Premier League in 2008-2009 because he realised that risking losing in order to win would give us more points than drawing against the likes of Hull.
None of that is to denigrate Rafa, of course. He’s probably the most technically gifted manager that Liverpool have had during my lifetime. But there’s no doubt that at times he could be a stubborn so and so who refused to change his way of working. Obviously were he to respond to this blog he’d doubtless point out that his stubbornness won us as many points as it lost us and he’d be absolutely right. That’s why he’s a world-class manager and I’m a bloke writing transfer gossip pieces.
I can’t help thinking of Liverpool managers and their stubbornness at the moment, though. After Rafa came Kenny (I’m not acknowledging the other fella. He wasn’t stubborn, just terrible) and his stubborn refusal to deal with the press in a manner that was anything other than prickly. Would the Suarez situation have turned out as bad as it did if the King had cultivated a better relationship with the media as a whole? It’s possible.
Then there was Rodgers and his point blank refusal to so anything at all about the club’s defensive issues, even to the point of acknowledging we had any. When we managed to string together a series of clean sheets he even made a pointed comment about it ‘being that defensive coach we brought in’. Keener to make himself look like a genius than to see Liverpool win the league by…you know…not conceding every single time we played.
Now there’s Klopp. Perhaps the second most technically gifted manager we’ve had since Benitez, even though he seems to be relying on his ability to inspire more than his tactical plans. I genuinely love him. He seems like such a nice bloke and anyone who watched the interview with Gary Lineker last night will know what I’m talking about. He comes across so well and I’m desperate for him to be a success because he is such a genuinely nice man.
Yet I also can’t help wondering if his stubbornness over certain issues may yet cause us problems.
I’m not as much of an anti-Moreno character as most people, even though I can clearly see that he’s a bit of a dimwit that’s easily distracted by sparkly things and loud noises. Yet it’s impossible to not even acknowledge that the left-back slot is an area of the pitch that needs to be strengthened. Even if Klopp is convinced that the Spaniard has the ability to come good with training we’re still light in the event that he gets injured. Milner is most definitely not a long-term solution there.
Equally, how much better might we look defensively if we had a specialist defensive midfielder helping them out a wee bit? Do Arsenal score all three of their goals with a DM in our side? Do Burnley net both of theirs? I’m not too sure. I’m a massive Jordan Henderson fan and think he’ll prove himself this year, but he is not great in that position protecting the backline.
The Manager Wants What The Manager Wants
Fans are desperate for a left-back and a defensive midfielder. The first one in particular is causing all sorts of issues for people. I’ve seen some people suggest that it would be ‘criminally negligent’ for us not to get one in. More than a few people believe that it is a ‘glaring weakness’ in the squad and that failure to buy in a new left back and defensive midfielder would mean our season falls apart before a ball has been kicked.
So why doesn’t the manager want either? I’ve had some people suggest to me that it’s because FSG won’t let him spend the money. That seems so very flawed an idea to me. Why on earth would the owners sanction moves for every position on the pitch but refuse to buy a left-back?
I’m quite sure there are limits to how much money they’re willing to spend on transfers. I’m happy to believe that they want the books balanced in the long run. But I simply don’t believe that Klopp is begging them to buy certain players and they’re refusing to allow the money to be spent. I also refuse to believe that the manager wouldn’t be saying anything at all if the club were point-blank refusing to back him in the market. It doesn’t make sense.
The German said in his press conference earlier in the week that he can’t believe how ‘obsessed’ we all are over transfers and that he can’t wait for the window to close so that we can stop talking about it. He’s a man known to favour training over buying people in. None of those facts point towards someone unhappy with the state of affairs. The fans might want change but the manager really, really isn’t bothered.
The Runners And Riders Of The Rumour Mill
None of that stops people speculating, of course, and we’ve been linked with some more really interesting names this week. Perhaps most hopeful of all is the very distinct possibility that one man in particular might finally be on his way out of the club…
Oh Mario, what a journey it’s been. If reports are to be believed Brendan Rodgers was offered a pretty stark choice by the transfer committee when he asked for another striker: Mario Balotelli or Samuel Eto’o. Given that Eto’o is about 43-years-old it wasn’t exactly a difficult decision to bring in the Italian, especially not for a manager who believes he can change pretty much anybody. It was a gamble, yes, but a calculated one that could have changed the face of the club if it had paid off.
Mario Balotelli has travelled to Nice for transfer talks. No agreement yet…#LFC https://t.co/YqK4u6kCZX pic.twitter.com/69XUeyTpqL
— Melissa Reddy (@MelissaReddy_) August 25, 2016
It didn’t pay off, of course, and we’ve been stuck with him ever since. He has a bad attitude, was disruptive in training and brought down the entire atmosphere at the club. But now there is light at the end of the tunnel. It’s possible that Nice are going to sign him permanently and we’ll be rid of him for good. Christian Benteke was the right player at the wrong time and under the wrong manager. Balotelli was just plain wrong. Keep your fingers crossed, all.
Jürgen Klopp made it clear earlier in the week that he would be willing to let Mamadou Sakho depart on loan this transfer window. I’ve got more than a little bit of sympathy with the French centre-back. Suspended by UEFA over a possible drugs issue, WADA have since admitted that they got it wrong and won’t be appealing UEFA’s decision to drop all charges. That’s all well and good, but whilst they’ve been messing around he’s missed Liverpool’s Europa League final appearance and France’s march to the final of the Euros.
It’s understandable that his head is all over the show and Klopp must be concerned about his ability to become a fully-committed member of the squad. He’s also massively lacking match fitness and is a little bit injury prone, so I can see the logic in sending him off to another Premier League club to regain his fitness and sort his head out before hopefully returning a brand new player in the future. It appears that either Crystal Palace or Stoke City could offer him an escape route before September comes.
Despite the most ardent wishes of Liverpool supporters all over the land there is little to no chance that we’re going to be making another signing before the transfer window shuts. Even if we do sign someone it is not going to be in a position that the supporters believe we need to strengthen. No one is accepting that, but it doesn’t mean it’s not true. So who might we sign before the window SLAMS SHUT? I’ve had a look at the rumours:
Here’s one that sparks at least a little bit of interest in the back of my brain. I don’t think Joe Hart is a brilliant goalkeeper. I think he’s been fortunate to sit behind a very good and very expensively assembled defence at Manchester City. But I also think that Simon Mignolet has conceded five goals from the last five shots on target and Loris Karius is injured, so I’m willing to consider any possibility at this stage. Certainly the papers think it’s a possibility, with The Mirror claiming that Hart will take a pay cut in order to tempt Klopp into bidding for him. Could it happen? I wouldn’t mind swapping Migs for Hart, to be honest.
What chance of the Reds signing Real Madrid forward James Rodriguez this summer? No chance whatsoever, to be honest. Despite the fact that the Colombian has fallen out with Zinedine Zidane and has been told he can leave the Bernabéu before the window closes, his valuation is simply too ridiculous to mean that he’ll rock up at Anfield any time soon. That doesn’t mean we haven’t been linked with a move for him, however, with £60+ million likely to be his asking price. I’ll see you all in La La Land if that one comes off.
It strikes me as very likely that this will be the last transfer rumour piece until the January window opens and we get to go through this circus again. As I said before, though, never say never…