With Liverpool’s January transfers dominated by the sale of Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona in a £142 million deal, all eyes are now on the summer transfer window to see how that money can be spent and how the team will be remodelled after the departure of the Little Magician. But could this year’s World Cup, along with the early closing of the window for the Premier League, affect the chances of Jürgen Klopp getting the players that he wants and arguably needs?
Last year, Premier League clubs voted to close the summer transfer window before the start of the next season, so as to avoid disruption. This means that this year, the deadline for Premier League clubs signing players is 9th August, whereas for European leagues, the window stays open until 31st. Liverpool, along with other English clubs, will be able to sell players until that date, but will have to finalise deals on players who they want to sign sooner than their continental competition.
Normally, this wouldn’t be a problem as the Premier League will still get 12 weeks in which to complete transfers, beginning in mid-May; however, many clubs and players will want to wait until after the World Cup final before they make any decisions about moves and sales. The final, as we all know, takes place in Russia on 15th July – less than four weeks before the transfer window closes for English clubs.
One player who has already said that he won’t be going anywhere until after the World Cup is over is Monaco forward Thomas Lemar. Klopp is reportedly keen to sign the 22-year-old, who turned down a move to Arsenal last year after Monaco accepted a £90 million offer. Lemar’s price is likely to have increased even more by late July, especially if he performs well with the French national team, and by then, there are certainly likely to be other offers on the table besides Liverpool’s.
Another international player said to be on Klopp’s bucket list is Algerian midfielder Riyad Mahrez, currently with Leicester City. The 26-year-old was dropped from the Algerian national team after the country failed to qualify for the World Cup, and as he’s already playing in the Premier League, the issue may not arise. He’s apparently determined to leave the Foxes, but they’re equally determined to hang on to him, and could ask for £100 million or more.
Already set to come to Anfield in the summer is Guinea’s Naby Keïta. Klopp wanted him in January but failed to reach a deal with his current team, RB Leipzig, who wanted an additional £17.8 million upfront for an early transfer. As it stands, Liverpool have already committed a substantial amount of money to signing Keïta – probably in the region of £48 million – which is going to impact on how much they can spend elsewhere. Add that to the £75 million already spent on Virgil van Dijk and the £142 million Coutinho windfall is suddenly looking considerably depleted.
Watching the stats
As hinted at earlier, having to wait until after the World Cup does mean that the prices that the best players command are likely to have risen. Managers are going to be looking closely at player statistics in order to decide how much they’re worth, and World Cup performances will have a lot to do with that. Of course, stats are always open to interpretation, with luck and chance playing a big part. Plus it’s easy to judge strikers on goals scored and less easy to assess a top defender based on the numbers.
Affecting the odds
At the same time, the odds on Liverpool’s performance in 2018/19 are likely to shift dramatically once all the transfers are completed. Departures and new arrivals will all be reflected on Stakers.com as pundits predict how a shake-up in the squad will reflect their chances in the League. Having all new signings cleared before the season starts will at least mean that fans have an idea of what to expect, though it’s only after a few games that the chemistry of a new combination of players becomes apparent.
There has been much speculation about who Klopp will put in Coutinho’s place. Some have suggested that an existing player such as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain could step up, while others are looking to a new star signing to fill the Brazilian’s boots. With Emre Can also a free agent come the summer and admitting that he also may be open to offers following the World Cup, Liverpool may well need to bring in some solid talent in midfield, and they may not have too much time between the World Cup final and the transfer window closing to do so.