There are many issues with discussing Liverpool’s transfer activity, not the least of which is the number of weirdos that are obsessed with declaring that Fenway Sports Group should be booted out of the club whenever such a thing is mentioned. If you’re one of those, there is little-to-no point in you reading on. I am not an FSG stooge or someone that refuses to criticise the owners, but I am someone that believes in nuanced conversation. If your only answer to a conversation about John Henry and his colleagues spending money is to send abuse to him or his wife or merely to tweet ‘#FSGOUT’ then I’m willing to guess that you don’t appreciate nuance. Things are never as black and white as some people would like to suggest, up to and including the fact that wanting a set of owners ‘out’ without any idea of who would come ‘in’ is setting the club up for failure and not acknowledging the problems with ownership.
The disrespect shown to Klopp, the players and owners after a period of unknown success in recent history will always amaze me. Our only issue is we aren’t City. It’s not actually about winning games anymore – it’s about net spend. That’s not football.#LFC.
— Si Steers (@sisteers) September 2, 2021
I’m willing to bet that the vast majority of the FSGOUT brigade would want an ownership like Manchester City’s, happily ignoring all of the problems that would come with that and making false equivalence claims in terms of FSG and human rights. There is a discussion to be had about the ownership and what they’ve got right and wrong over the years, but I’m not sure that just blanket wanting them to sell up helps anyone. It’s also worth reading the excellent Swiss Ramble Twitter thread that looks at the club’s finances in real terms. A quick look at the replies will also show you exactly the type of lunatics that populate the FSG out conversation. In nuanced terms, then, I think that a description of the club’s transfer window as one that managed to reach two and a half stars out of five is probably a fair reflection of what happened. Here’s my reasoning behind that, complete with an explanation of what went right and what went wrong.
Not Enough Incomings
I think that the manager has more faith in his players than many supporters do. There are lads such as Takumi Minamino that Jürgen Klopp sees training every week and perhaps believes will have more to offer as the season goes on. There are also those that have suffered from injury problems in the past that the German might feel can be relied upon more this time around. The arrival of Dr Andreas Schlumberger might also play a part in the manager’s thinking, with the German being a specialist in helping players to recover long-term when they come back from an injury. Klopp might well be hoping that the likes of Joel Matip, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Naby Keïta will be able to be relied upon far more than they have been in the past thanks to their work with Schlumberger. Whether that will be the case or not remains to be seen.
A window that has left even the most rational fans bemused and slightly concerned has now closed. There is serious concerns/questions about the direction the owners of this club are taking it. Suddenly this season has become the most pivotal in their and Klopps tenure Imo #LFC
— Grizz Khan (@GrizzKhan) August 31, 2021
Whilst all of that is almost certainly true, it’s difficult to get away from the fact that the Reds could do with more competition in certain areas. The departure of Gini Wijnaldum means that one of our most reliable midfielders in terms of availability is no longer at the club. Whilst I person believe the notion that Thiago Alcantara is Wijnaldum’s replacement, there’s no arguing that we’re down a player that could almost always be counted on. Up top, the failure to bring in one more final-third player means that there is no choice but to continue playing at least one of Sadio Mané or Roberto Firmino, even if they’re woefully out of form. Ibrahima Konaté may well prove to be an excellent addition in the long-term, but short-term I would have been happier if at least one more midfielder and one more attacker had arrived before the window did that clichéd thing of ‘slamming shut’.
Not Enough Outgoings
It seems odd to reference the lack of outgoings after saying that I’d like to have seen a couple of incomings, but the reality is that there are some players that really shouldn’t be at the club any more. Even if we ignore the likes of Loris Karius, who might well still be at the club in person but isn’t really in spirit, Divock Origi still being on the books is a problem. I said in the wake of the 2019 Champions League final that the Belgian should have been sold, figuring that his stock would never be higher, but instead he was inexplicably given a new contract. It was offered in order to ‘protect his value’, but if we’d sold him when he was popular his value would have been significantly more than it is now. The players that did depart, mainly on loan, were ones that were extremely unlikely to ever trouble the first-team.
➡ IN – £36m
🇫🇷 Ibrahima Konaté – £36m
⬅ OUT – £34.5m
🏴 Harry Wilson – £12.5m
🇷🇸 Marko Grujić – £10.5m
🇳🇬 Taiwo Awoniyi – £6.5m
🇨🇭 Xherdan Shaqiri – £5m
🇳🇱 Gini Wijnaldum – FREE
Rate our transfer window out of 10 👇 #LFC
— TheKop.com (@TheKop_com) September 1, 2021
This is something that those who don’t understand nuance will never get, of course. In order to bring players in, you need to get others off the books and if they don’t want to leave or no teams want to buy them then that is something that is difficult to do. It was the right time for Xherdan Shaqiri to leave, though it’s ironic that he’s the player I most feel would have been able to put pressure on first-team players. Whether people like it or not, when a club is run in a sustainable manner it is crucial to sell players in order to buy others. The idea that the likes of Origi could just not be registered as being part of the squad in order to make room for someone else is ludicrous, but if no one wants to pay what Liverpool think he is worth then options are limited. You wouldn’t sell your house for £100,000 under the asking price, so why should the club do something similar? Incomings and outgoings are linked and this time there wasn’t enough of either to make it a better window.