This is, ostensibly, a transfer rumour round-up piece. Yet I have also chosen to use it to discuss issues around Liverpool’s transfer business and transfer strategies. Much discussion has taken place on blogs, forums and websites this week about the kind of signings that Liverpool Football Club have been making and the ‘shops’ that we’re able to go to.
It seems as though most have this has come about because of Jürgen Klopp’s pronouncement that the likes of Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United are ‘not known to go shopping in Aldi’. Some have taken that as a sly did at Fenway Sports Group, the club’s American owners. I’m not sure that’s how the German intended it, though. I don’t think that he was suggesting that Liverpool are being skinflints whilst everyone else is off wandering around the aisle of Waitrose, picking up at of the good stuff.
Instead I think his point was that none of these mega-rich clubs are all that interested in players if they don’t cost millions and millions of pounds and come with exorbitant wage demands. They can all afford to spend insane amounts of money on numerous high profile players, safe in the knowledge that if it doesn’t work out then they can just spend more.
Liverpool might be the ninth richest club in the world and the fifth richest in England, but we don’t have that luxury. The club is being run responsibly now by owners who are determined to ensure that we live within our means. They are totally different from the cowboys who took us to the edge of bankruptcy precisely because they’re unwilling to be frivolous with their spending.
Attracting The Expensive
Andy Heaton wrote a good and well argued piece for The Anfield Wrap this week where he argued that Liverpool don’t need to spend the same amounts as City or Chelsea, but that the bargain deals the club is currently making will be complimented perfectly by a sprinkling of stardust from the moe expensive shops. His point is that Aldi is great for all of the basics, but that it isn’t the sort of place you want to turn for the cumin, low fat tzaziki and so on that really set a dish off.
The biggest problem that Liverpool have got right now is that they can’t attract megastars just at the moment without paying way above the odds and that we’re a club who aren’t set-up to do that sort of thing. The best example is the case of Mario Götze who was strongly linked with coming to Anfield this summer, only to end up back at Borussia Dortmund where the fans hate him for having deserted them.
Götze rose to prominence at the Westfalenstadion playing under Klopp and has failed to hit the same heights since his departure. Klopp spoke of being heart-broken when the baby-faced forward chose to swap BvB for life at Bayern Munich. There was a genuine bond between the two and the player himself credits Klopp for making him into one of the most exciting young players in the world.
The Reds believed that getting Götze to move to Merseyside was little more than a formality. He’d made all the right noises with his representatives earlier in the year and had been speaking to Klopp on a regular basis. It seemed as though he would be the first major name to walk through the door of the German uprising taking place at Anfield. Yet no sooner had the full-time whistle been blown at the Europa League final between Liverpool and Sevilla, with the Spanish side taking the last Champions League place, and Götze’s willingness to move had cooled. No longer was he determined to be re-united with his former boss and instead life on the Bayern Munich bench didn’t seem so bad after all.
The best players want to be playing in the best competitions. That’s just a fact of life. By dropping off the top-table in recent years Liverpool have seen their chances of bringing in the best of the best slip away time and time again. If we can’t sign someone who hasn’t played anywhere near the same level of football since he was under the tutelage of our manager, a guy who he looks at as being like a father figure, what chance have we got of bringing in other players without the same link to the man in the dugout? It wasn’t a matter of Liverpool not bring able to pay the wages or afford the asking price of the selling club. The player simply didn’t want to come without Champions League football or European football of some degree on offer.
Rocking The Boat
I have seen some suggestions on Twitter and the likes that Liverpool should have been involved in the conversation over the signing of Paul Pogba. The Frenchman looks likely to join Manchester United for £100 million and the idea is that the Reds will likely finish the summer having recouped about that amount of money from player sales.
How does a Liverpool side that has been in the Champions League once in the last five years or so persuade someone like Pogba to come and play for us? There’s no guarantee that we’ll make it back into the competition this season and even if we did there’s also no guarantee that we’ll be staying there. So the only way to ensure that we can get the likes of a Pogba to play for us is by offering him ludicrously high wages.
Unlike Manchester City and Chelsea, however, Liverpool Football Club isn’t set up to cope with mercenaries. How do the likes of Sturridge, Coutinho and Firmino feel about a new player coming in and being paid double or triple what they’re earning? What happens to the club’s negotiations with Wijnaldum and Mané if they have seen another player getting six figure weekly salaries? That’s even assuming that we would be able to sign them if we’ve spent our entire budget on one player.
And what happen if Pogba gets injured? What solution is there to all of our woes then? José Mourinho has spent more money than any other manager in the history of football. He is used to dealing with big egos and players on absurd amounts of money. His success has been bought and he couldn’t care less about it. If Pogba, Zlatan and the likes are on £300,000 per week and that means that Wayne Rooney’s money has to increase too, so be it.
Jürgen Klopp simply isn’t that type of manager. He is a manager who prefers to create a team that is all pulling in the same direction rather than a group of talented individuals all pulling in the same direction. Liverpool might be able to afford to bring in one or two megastars and pay them the big bucks, but they can’t afford to have an entire team of them and the manager doesn’t want to work with that sort of player anyway, so what’s the point? Why rock the boat for an experiment that probably wouldn’t pay off anyway?
I also have a degree of sympathy with Klopp for the sort of fanbase that he has to deal with. When the club signed Mané there were complaints about his price tag, with supporters complaining that we have once again paid over the odds for a Southampton player. When we signed Joel Matip supporters were disappointed that he wasn’t a marque signing in the style of Mats Hummels. That in spite of the fact that Bild declared Matip to be the third best defender in the Bundesliga. If we’d paid £20 million for him fans would have been happier, so the manager must feel as though he can’t win. Matip is a £20 million defender but his contract had run down. Did Liverpool fans think Real Madrid were signing a dud when they got Steve McManaman or Michael Owen on a free?
There are two main players who look like they might be on their way out in the next week or so, with Lucas’ potential departure to Newcastle United having question marks over it after a hamstring scare. I’ve spoken about them all in the past and Lucas is no definite departure, so I’ll keep it brief about the other two here.
For months now the debate over Joe Allen’s future has raged. His performances for Wales in the Euros had some fans suggesting that we should keep him as a squad player for another year, in spite of the fact that Jürgen Klopp doesn’t rate him for one reason or another. Now the club have accepted a £13 million bid from Stoke City for the player and it looks as though everyone will be happy. Liverpool will get money, Allen will get playing time and Stoke will get a decent player. I’ll be sad to see him go, personally, but he doesn’t fit in with the system that Klopp’s after so so be it.
The Scouse defender is reportedly wanted by Burnley on a season-long loan. It’s an interesting one, with Klopp apparently not a big fan of the loan system but also very much aware of the fact that Flanno needs game time. We clearly don’t want to sell him as he’s recently signed a new contract, but that doesn’t mean that we need to keep him at Anfield indefinitely when he’s unlikely to get game time as his fitness isn’t up to scratch. The best of both worlds will be a loan move to a club where he can play football.
Jürgen Klopp said that Liverpool would be signing ‘one or two more players’ this window earlier in the week and it looks as though we’ve now signed two. Is that it for the Reds on the transfer front? We’ll see.
With Joe Gomez having a set-back in his recovery thanks to an achilles problem, Kolo Toure having already departed Merseyside and Mamadou Sakho being somewhat prone to injury, it seemed inevitable that the Reds would being in some defensive cover. Ragnar Klavan is experienced and has been described as ‘the complete defender’ by his national coach, so at less than £5 million his signing seems a sensible one. For some it’s uninspiring, but I doubt many people though Wes Morgan and Robert Huth would lead Leicester to the Premier League title last season. Time to wait and see what happens.
Captain of his country, over 100 caps, bags of experience.
The journey of #KlavanToTheKop: https://t.co/mT20RGw5IS pic.twitter.com/UjsJGPqe4D
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) 20 de julio de 2016
Whatever else you may think about Liverpool’s transfer business so far this summer, you can’t say that Klopp hasn’t addressed the problem of a lack of goals. Both Mané and Wijnaldum were joint third for goalscoring midfielders last term, so it’s fair to say they know how to stick the ball into the back of the net. If Sturridge can stay fit for 30+ games and Ings and Origi keep adding goals at a steady pace then I can see Liverpool approaching the one hundred mark in goals scored next season. That will do me very nicely indeed.
Georginio Wijnaldum scored last season vs:
Big-game player. pic.twitter.com/yRgZCz9fFA
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) July 21, 2016
Until next week…