There has been a lot of unfair mockery going on over the last couple of days about both our deal for James Milner – which with the exception of a medical has been completed – and our potential moves for Danny Ings and Adam Bogdan, who like Milner are out of contract at the end of the month and are available on free transfers.
As a passionate Liverpool fan, I can understand the moans of frustration coming from Merseyside – we want big names, we want experience, we want players that are going to play not sit on the bench, and most of all we want someone that’s going to make a difference – turn our fortunes around and propel us back to where we should be.
However, to suggest that these three players are not important additions is both short-sighted and highly irritating. We’re not Real Madrid, we never have been, we’re not a team of ‘Galacticos’ who don’t know how to play together – Liverpool are, and have always been, a team – a cohesive unit whose sum of parts is better than any individual.
What right do we, or anyone else have to turn our noses up at three highly respectable additions who are all available for nothing. People make a point of the wages that these guys are going to be on, but not paying a transfer fee leaves us at a substantial advantage.
For example, if Milner is going to be on the £150,000-per-week that has been suggested, that’s a lot – but if the deal had included a £15m transfer fee and the overall value of the transfer had stayed the same, then he would only be on £78,000. If we’d have paid a £20m fee – think Stewart Downing – he’d only be on the equivalent of £53k.
With the likes of Steven Gerrard, Glen Johnson, Pepe Reina, Luis Suarez etc. off our books, there is money in the wage budget to spend and to pay Milner that sort of fee is not unrealistic, while it’s also less than he would have earned during the same period at Manchester City.
Let’s put monetary issues aside for a minute and focus on the players themselves. What do you look for in a new signing? In my mind, it’s that they improve the squad as a whole. Do these three players do that? Yes, they do.
Milner is an excellent replacement for Steven Gerrard. He’s not the player our iconic No. 8 was at his peak, arguably no one is, but he’ll do well alongside the likes of Jordan Henderson and Emre Can. He’s experienced at the top level with both City and England, he’s versatile, he’s a leader and he has a great attitude. He won’t let us down.
I’ve used this analogy before but I’ll use it again – Ings is younger than Lambert, he’s cheaper than Balotelli and he’s simply better than Borini. He scored 11 Premier League goals this season for a team that struggled to find the net all year, he’s 22 and has room to grow and improve, and he’s far more suited to our style of play than the current crop.
Bogdan is better than Brad Jones, no question about it. When we’re on a limited budget, why would we waste big money – as it would take to lure away the likes of Petr Cech or Keylor Navas – on a back-up goalkeeper? If we were worried about Simon Mignolet’s prospects as our long-time number one then we might have gone for someone else, but the Belgian was one of our best players during the second-half of last season.
This was a position that needed filling and the Hungarian will do fine. Jones had only played a handful of games for Middlesbrough, mostly in the Championship, before arriving at Liverpool. Bogdan has played over 100 games for Bolton and spent a full season as their number one in the top flight – winning their Player of the Year award.
I’ve said before that we need six new players this summer and these three buys will free up our budget to be spent on the right-back, second central midfielder and second striker we so desperately need. These deals – assuming the ones for Ings and Bogdan are done soon – have been sorted nice and early and leave us time to concentrate on what’s still left to be done.
So come on, let’s get behind our team rather than telling them they’re not good enough before they’ve even started. If we add three more quality signings before the start of next season then we could be on to something really special.
Come on you Reds!