Newsflash: Liverpool don’t always know what the plan is in the transfer market.
There is a general understanding between manager Jurgen Klopp, sporting director Julian Ward and FSG president Mike Gordon regarding which players should have contracts extended, which areas need strengthening and who’s likely to exit.
But it’s fluid. Things change and part of Liverpool’s brilliance in the transfer market during Klopp’s tenure has been our ability to be reactionary.
Mario Gotze doesn’t want us? Sign Sadio Mane. Julian Brandt not keen? Let’s go for Mo Salah… Tottenham have made a bid for Luis Diaz? Better go and sign him in January instead of the summer, then.
This doesn’t always work, of course. In January 2021 we made the decision to sign two centre-backs, Ben Davies and Ozan Kabak, on deadline day. One has never played and the other just got relegated on Norwich’s subs bench. It doesn’t always work out, but because of long-term plans and a general agreement of team and club direction inside the hierarchy, Liverpool are capable of responding to the market swiftly.
The Reds have just sold Mane to Bayern Munich, but had the Senegalese stayed on for a smallish contract (relative to his ability), the Reds would have kept him on and likely not bought Darwin Nunez.
Instead, that money could’ve gone on a midfielder. But with Nunez through the door, it looks unlikely we’ll spend big on the potentially defining midfielder signing this summer.
But things change. If a club comes in with a decent offer for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Liverpool would accept it, given he doesn’t play much and his contract is up in 12 months. Let’s say Real Madrid went in for Jude Bellingham this summer, too. That would push our hand into acting decisively and changing plans due to the situation.
Remember what Klopp said back in 2019.
“For us it is always the same; we don’t speak about it. We are pretty much always ready to try and do something if it helps us, and if not then we won’t.”
It’s not yet decided. It depends on multiple factors. Ward is spinning many plates and will only start spinning new ones if others fall.
Unlike Manchester City, we cannot afford to mess up our big deals. We can’t give players £400k/week contracts, either, which is why we’ve seen the likes of Emre Can, Gini Wijnaldum and now potentially Mo Salah and Roberto Firmino run down their deals.
When City fail with Benjamin Mendy, Danilo and Angelino, they just spend another £50m on another left-back in Marc Cucurella. So it’s not the same. Liverpool arguably failed with Naby Keita in 2018 and four years later, haven’t strengthened the position; but instead relied on James Milner, Jordan Henderson and youngsters from the Academy in Curtis Jones and Harvey Elliott to fill his absence.
Liverpool do transfers privately and often the news they leak to journalists on one day becomes untrue the next. They haven’t lied, but plans change, because the club is reactionary.
Let’s take the summer of 2018 as an example. The Reds tell the club’s trusted reporters, like Paul Joyce and James Pearce, that Danny Ward will be given a chance as no.1. Two weeks later, we’ve signed Alisson for a world-record sum.
This summer, the news has been widely explained by the club to the same journalists that Liverpool are done in terms of incoming players. Right now, that might be true. But you don’t know what’s going to happen in a long and complicated window. We know as a fact Liverpool bid for Aurelien Tchouameni. This proves Klopp wants a central midfielder this summer in an ideal world and should the opportunity to acquire someone of a similar profile arise, common sense suggests we’d take it.
But here is the beauty of Klopp. He cares less about transfers than you do. He’d like a midfielder, sure. He’d like Kylian Mbappe ideally, but he is always happy with the squad at his disposal. This trust in his players and refusal to publicly long for bigger, better ones empowers the ones he already has.
Ward is working. Don’t worry about that. Things are happening and wheels are turning, but if we don’t sign anyone, it’s because the right opportunity hasn’t presented itself. Fine. Look at Manchester United signing players because fans want them to; only for them to turn out very expensive, not very good and the entire club a laughing stock. They beat us in the transfer window every summer, until you actually watch the two teams play football when the season starts.
Don’t let the midfielder situation worry you. It might happen. It might not. The club have it under control. You can’t do anything about it. Enjoy the break, as the Reds might end up playing every possible match again next season.