Under FSG, Liverpool must bring money into the club, through either commercial or sporting success, or via player sales, in order to invest heavily in the squad.
Our monster deals for Virgil van Dijk and Alisson were funded by Coutinho’s exit – and any other big transfers have been meticulously weighed up, bartered and amortised.
Jurgen Klopp has signed 40 players during his tenure at a cost of £513m, but crucially, there is a net spend of just £139m, with 38 players sold at £373m.
At Manchester City, Pep Guardiola has bought 36 players costing £833m – making £300m back from departures. His net spend is £533m, £394m more than Klopp’s, with one year less in charge.
That’s essentially ten extra £40m footballers he’s had purchased for him, on top of a squad that already included David Silva, Sergio Aguero, Vincent Kompany et al.
It’s not a level-playing field. It never will be, until the powers that be implement actual regulations for petro-states using football to sports-wash, but that’s an article for another day – and not really the point I want to discuss today.
Liverpool are playing an especially risky game this summer by waiting to buy until a number of players regarded as potential money-makers depart.
And that’s because the smaller but still impressive clubs who would normally take a Harry Wilson, Xherdan Shaqiri or Neco Williams in pre-COVID times are not buying.
James Pearce wrote a lengthy piece in the Athletic, in which he declared, ‘Further signings are unlikely until the picture regarding outgoings becomes much clearer,’ but the potential buyers, knowing our rather needy position, are in a position of power. They can play the waiting game and push the price down. There is not a bidding war for Divock Origi. In reality, we should have sold the cult-hero Belgian after he scored the winner in the Champions League Final, but instead we gave him a new contract and now moving him on has become a problem.
There are a number of senior players who have no realistic chance of getting minutes this season – bar another mind-boggling injury-crisis which hopefully won’t strike twice…
Wilson. Origi. Shaq… Williams could net us £10m-odd, Nat Phillips, £15m. Marko Grujic, somewhere in between… If you add all those numbers up and include the likes of Taiwo Awoniyi, Sheyi Ojo and the like, you can invent a sum of around £80m coming into the club.
Great, right?! That will pay for Renato Sanches and a striker… Let’s do it!
Only, why would a club, who have less money coming in than Liverpool and have equally if not worse felt the effects of the pandemic, buy one of our players when they could loan them…?
Liverpool send Wilson, Ojo, Grujic and Awoniyi on loan every single year. Smaller clubs get a ‘try before you buy’ offer on these lads – and even if the noises coming out of Anfield indicate we’re only interested in permanent deals – if we fail to sell, make no mistake – they’ll be off on loan – AGAIN.
Klopp famously likes his transfers in the door early so he can get them accustomed to training and acclimatised to the squad, but last year, Thiago and Diogo Jota didn’t sign until Premier League matches had already been played. In fairness, Jota hit the ground running and Thiago did too until Richarlison snapped him in the season-defining Merseyside Derby draw – but for the boss – that isn’t ideal.
And with the season starting in 29 days, I’d be surprised if any summer deals will not also be last minute – just as they were in January when we desperately searched for centre-backs on deadline day – despite having the entire month to have got it sorted.
Liverpool fans were excited watching the various links to centre-backs all over Europe. Duje Ćaleta-Car, Kalidou Koulibaly and Perr Schurrs were assessed, before we settled on Ozan Kabak and Ben Davies, but it wasn’t very Michael Edwards, was it?
In reality, it was poor planning. The need for a defender was blindingly obvious to everyone, but for some reason, Klopp wasn’t granted one until Joel Matip joined Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez on the ‘out for the season’ treatment table.
Now, I know the club’s finances have taken a big COVID-hit, which perhaps explains the recent transfer activity (or lack of), but it’s important we learn the mistakes of last season.
We didn’t replace Dejan Lovren and paid for it. Not buying a midfielder to fill Gini Wijnaldum’s minutes (he played more than any other central player under Klopp last term) would be incredibly risky – especially when you consider the lack of faith the boss has in the fitness or tactical nous of Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
And not investing in a centre-forward, considering Roberto Firmino’s 2020/21 campaign, would simply be negligent.
But here we are, in the second-half of July, with very little sign of anything brewing.
Of course, maybe that’s how the club wants it. As we know, nothing gets leaked anymore, and official noises regarding transfers from trusted sources only break days before a deal is announced. Wading through the rumour-mill is painstaking, and although I’ve heard whispers on Dusan Vlahovic and Saul Niguez, it’s quite possible we’ll go entirely left-field and sign a player without a single inch of column dedicated to their budding Anfield switch…
But the Reds are leaving it fairly late, already. We’ve got Ibrahima Konate, who looks an absolute giant in training and excites me greatly, but we need two more bodies; one in midfield and one up front, if we’re to mount a challenge this season.
Don’t assume Bournemouth will simply give us £20m for Dom Solanke anymore, or Sheffield United a similar fee for Rhian Brewster. They’ll look for the loan and we need to be ahead of that curve.