We’re now just a matter of days away from the start of Liverpool’s pre-season and we’ve only made one major signing, coupled with a player that fits into the ‘one for the future category’. Time to panic or just par for the course? The answer you’ll give to that almost certainly depends on your memory, with the club never completing all their transfer business before the players return from their summer break. The reality, as I’ve said countless times before, is that transfers are immensely complex things and presuming that they can be done in a matter of days like it’s Championship Manager is just idiotic.
Much as our players all headed off for the summer at the conclusion of last season, so players at other clubs did the same. That’s to say nothing of the people behind the scenes that work in the administrative departments. We played our final match of the previous campaign on the 21st of May and our new chief executive officer Peter Moore didn’t even start his job until June 1st. There are all sorts of reasons why transfers take time to be completed, so the constant losing of heads and criticising of the club is helpful to absolutely nobody. Aside from anything else, it’s rarely the club that are dragging their feet; after all, the selling club is always reluctant to lose an important player and want to make sure they maximise the return they receive on their investment.
Not that supporters care about that sort of thing, of course. In years gone by football fans would only have a vague sense of how much money had been spent on players and the soonest they’d know about a transfer was when it was confirmed. Nowadays there’s a need for newspapers to sell copy or get clicks and they know that one of the best ways of doing that is to write constant transfer stories. I can’t even claim innocence of this on my front, given that you’re reading my transfer gossip piece right now! At least this is a weekly thing and I don’t need to try to find something to talk about on a daily or even hourly basis. It’s a self-perpetuating industry, with papers printing stories that make fans hungry for more news, meaning that papers look for more stories.
The problem is that it often doesn’t matter how true the stories are. The media can put two and two together and come up with whatever number they want, just as long as football supporters keep reading the stories and clicking the links. This in turn means that supporters get frustrated when their club isn’t buying all of the players they’ve been linked with, even though the media often made up the links in the first place. That frustration is doubly compounded when you can see other clubs making transfers, such as Everton having brought in Davy Klaassen and Jordan Pickford already and being on the verge of signing Michael Keane from Burnley. Never mind that the Reds are now shopping in an entirely different store from their Blue brethren, people want action.
Thankfully it is the job of those at Liverpool Football Club not to get overly excited and bow to public pressure. They know that it’s important to bring in the right players, not just players for the sake of it. For those who have faith, it’s important to speak to God at times of doubt. He’s expressed his belief that Liverpool are right to go for quality of quantity this summer and if it’s good enough for Robbie Fowler then it’s good enough for me.
The Runners And Riders Of The Rumour Mill
The question is, who are we being linked with and exactly how likely are these transfers to take place? I’ve had a little look.
Only a couple of mildly interesting rumours regarding players heading out of the club this week:
There’s no question in my mind that our brainless wonder of a Spanish left-back will be heading out of Anfield this summer. Even if you ignore the fact that he used to sit on the substitutes bench and toss a bottle around instead of watching the match taking place in front of him, the fact that the manager refused to pick him even when James Milner was virtually dead should tell you everything you need to know. The rumours this week are that Roma may be his likely destination, with the Italians telling the Reds to ‘name their price’ for him. That seems unlikely, considering it’s clear that Klopp doesn’t want him, but as long as I don’t have to see him play for us ever again then I don’t really care.
Likelihood Rating: 7/10
If I’m being honest there’s no way that I can see Coutinho leaving Liverpool this summer. I reckon that the Brazilian is happy at Anfield and has no real desire to leave, believing that he can fulfil his ambitions here. Perhaps at some time in the future he might be tempted by a move to Barcelona, but I don’t think that’s now. Nevertheless, Paris Saint-Germain are reportedly trying to lure him away, meaning that the Reds have been forced to slap a £90 million price tag on his head. Even that seems cheap in the current market, so I’d be amazed if he was lining up for us come August.
Likelihood Rating: 2/10
Interestingly there haven’t been many other ‘outs’ rumoured about this week. Lucas Leiva is still likely to depart, as are some of the players that make up the deadwood of the squad. Likewise it was decided long ago that Mamadou Sakho has no future at the club. Even so, offers aren’t forthcoming for these players so there’s not much for me to write in that sense. I do have the feeling that there’s going to be loads of movement over the next two weeks, as clubs return to training and managers start to put pressure on those who are responsible for the singing of players.
How much our purchasing depends on sales remains to be seen, with rumours emerging last week that the club is hoping to raise about £100 million in sales. If the number of players who are going to come in this summer is dependent on the amount of players that leave then that might explain why we haven’t been as quick to make major signings as some were hoping. Once the ball starts rolling I thoroughly expect it to keep doing so. With that in mind, here are the rumours regarding players Liverpool want to buy:
The number one rumour from last week’s column is still the one that’s dominating coverage this time around, with the suggestion being that the next few days are likely to be make or break. The story is that Naby Keita is due to have showdown talks with RB Leipzig this week, meaning that we’ll have a clearer idea of whether or not we’ll be able to sign him soon. Given that’s he contracted to the Bundesliga outfit until 2020, we’re going to have to splash the cash if we want him now. On the other hand, Leipzig know that he’s got a £48 million release clause in his contract next summer, so they may prefer to get as much money for him as possible now than lose him for less in twelve months.
Leipzig unleashed 🔴⚪️
— RB Leipzig English (@RBLeipzig_EN) July 3, 2017
It seems that everyone’s got something to say about Keita, including former Red Titi Camara. The Guinean has been led to believe that his countryman wants to move to Liverpool and Leipzig are resigned to this fact. A theory bolstered by the fact that the club released their new kit this week and Keita was conspicuous in his absence from the launch video. Does that mean he’s definitely going to leave? Of course not. Yet it’s the clearest sign yet that we could see some action soon or, at the very least, move on to other targets. If he decides to force through a move then Liverpool’s transfer record will likely be smashed for the second time in one window.
Likelihood Rating: 8/10
Another rumour that’s been doing the rounds for some time is that Jürgen Klopp is a big fan of Arsenal’s Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. In some ways it makes sense; he’s still a relatively young player, has bags of potential and plenty of Premier League experience. Yet since his debut for the Gunners in 2011 he’s scored just nine league goals, so he’s not exactly a machine who’ll add numbers to the midfield. The key thing is that we have both top-flight and Champions League football to contend with next season and bringing in a player who may not expect to start but will be happy playing in any number of positions across the middle to give other players a rest seems to me like a good idea.
’The Ox’, as Arsenal fans call him, has rejected his current club’s final contract offer, meaning he’ll see out the final year of his contract and could leave for nothing next summer. The Gunners are unlikely to want that to happen and would almost certainly prefer to get some money for him now, especially as they’ll be able to squeeze more out of us than any other club because we’re a rival. £25 million is a lot to pay for a player that doesn’t offer a goal threat, but it’s the going rate for a lad from a fellow Premier League club in a market that’s going absolutely crazy.
Likelihood Rating: 7/10
As I mentioned earlier, Alberto Moreno is unlikely to be a Liverpool player for much longer. With that being the case there can be no question that we need to bring in a left-back as reinforcement for James Milner. Some people want us to replace the former Leeds, Aston Villa and Manchester City man entirely in that defensive spot but I’m confident that the manager likes him and wants him to stay. It’s certainly true that he was run into the ground during the last campaign, however, so a reliable replacement would be just the ticket. Andy Robertson is unlikely to set the world alight any time soon, but ‘reliable’ is very much the word you’d use for him. The Scot is available for around £8 million, which makes perfect sense to me.
Likelihood Rating: 5/10
I would be very surprised if I’m not writing a more effusive column this time next week. Whilst supporters are quick to criticise the club for not making many signings, none of Manchester United, Chelsea or Spurs have been all that busy so far this summer. Even Manchester City, who signed two players in quick succession at the start of window, have quietened down since then. That suggests to me that things are about to go off like a bottle of pop. Hold onto your hats…
Until next week…