What Liverpool’s January Business Says About The Future

Let’s be honest, there are plenty of people that have been overly critical of Liverpool’s transfer business of late. Under Fenway Sports Group, there has been a cautionary approach to the buying of players, with purchases usually having to be funded by player sales. In the past, that has definitely been a negative thing, given that we’ve had to sell our best players in order to bring in others. Even since we sold Philippe Coutinho and effectively replaced him with Virgil van Dijk and Alisson Becker, however, we’ve been much better placed to be sensible with our transfer dealings. Thanks to Jürgen Klopp’s management and the success that we’ve enjoyed under his leadership, we’re no longer a stepping stone club. We’re now a team that others want to play for, which we’ve seen play out in real time this January with the signing of Luis Diaz. He actively waited to see if the Reds were going to get involved instead of signing for Tottenham Hotspur, which is proof positive that are very much a destination rather than a layover.

Indeed, for the Reds, it has now come down to deciding which players we want to keep hold of and which ones we can get off our books for a fee. Rumours of Divock Origi and Takumi Minamino being ‘for sale’ if the right offer comes in isn’t a negative in my eyes. Instead, it is proof that we know we can improve on what we’ve got, which is how you step up a level when you don’t have the riches of a country to play with in the transfer market. Whilst there are plenty of people out there that will criticise FSG for their approach, give me a situation where we’re run in a sensible and sustainable manner any day of the week over one in which we’re being ‘sponsored’ by a company owned by John Henry. The dealings of other clubs are as dodgy as they come and, though it might be naive of me, I’d much rather we approach things in the right manner. As far as I’m concerned, getting unwanted players off our books in order to sign ones that can help us step up our game is exactly how a football club should be run, so I’m delighted by it.

We’re Looking To Win Right Now

I will confess early doors here that my knowledge of Luis Diaz is limited. The Colombian forward isn’t someone I’ve seen a huge amount of, barring the performances he put in for Porto when we played them in the Champions League. Even then I wasn’t really looking out for him, but people that I trust the judgement of on social media are delighted by his signing. It is, they say, a sign that the Reds are looking to win in the here and now. As things currently stand, we’re alive and competing in four different competitions. Whilst winning the Premier League is extremely unlikely at this stage, we’re in the final of the League Cup and have to fancy our chances of making it past Cardiff in the FA Cup. We will also be favourites to get past Inter Milan in the Champions League. By bolstering our attacking ranks, we’ve ensured that the manager has choices and options depending on the opposition and their weaknesses, allowing him to pick from Diaz, Sadio Mané, Roberto Firmino, Mo Salah and Diogo Jota.

Personally, I’m just grateful that we’re less likely to see Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain as part of the front three moving forward. I like the former Arsenal man, but there’s no doubt that he’s better in the midfield than the attacking third. It is, of course, entirely possible that we end this season trophyless, but the likelihood of that has decreased now that we’ve brought in another player to relieve the pressure on the men up front. I, like many, have been banging the drum that Mané and Salah will only have missed two Premier League games by the time that they return from the Africa Cup Of Nations, but the truth is that they’ll also be quite fatigued. Both of them are essentially the best players for their country, so they carry the weight of expectation as well as having to play the minutes on the pitch. Now that we’ve signed Diaz, we won’t need to rush Mané back to action and can instead give him a mini mid-season break. When he does return, he’ll be ready to pull up trees and run through walls in order to ensure that he doesn’t lose his place.

We’re Also Planning For The Future

At the time of writing, there is still a degree of uncertainty about whether the club will be able to get a deal for Fabio Carvalho over the line. The fact that we’ve said that we’ll loan the teenager back to the London club might give us an edge, but it also makes lots of sense. The reality is that, regardless of how well he’s been doing in the Championship this season, he is very much one for the future rather than the here and now. He joins a list of other players that will, all being well, still be playing for Liverpool in five or so years, if not longer. Trent Alexander-Arnold’s brilliance has meant that many people have forgotten that he is only 23. Ibrahima Konaté is also turning the same age this year, whilst 20-year-old Sepp van den Berg is impressing all the time during his loan spell at Preston North End. That is a good chunk of our defence that is likely to be good to go in five or six years time, provided it gains the necessary experience between now and then. Add in Harvey Elliott and you can see that our attack isn’t looking too bad either.

There are still changes that need to be made, of course, and it is the midfield that has me the most concerned right now. Whilst Jürgen Klopp seems to be determined to use Harvey Elliott in the midfield in the short-term, that is not where his future lies. As a result, the middle of the park is populated with either older players like James Milner, Jordan Henderson and Thiago Alcantara or else those that are constantly picking up injuries, like Naby Keïta. The future doesn’t look all that bright when it comes to our midfield options, but what moving for Luis Diaz and, possibly, Fabio Carvalho now has done is it has opened up the summer to more targeted transfer business. Doing too much at once just isn’t the manager’s style, so I’m not surprised that we’ve tried to space things out a bit. The club’s critics won’t like to admit it, but when the transfer team gets things right it absolutely nails it. Would I like to see them move in the market more regularly? Not if it means going for quantity over quality. We’ve been down that road before and it didn’t work out.

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