SOMETIMES you write because you think something and you want to put it over to other people. Sometimes you write because you are trying to work something out and you just don’t know. Below is most definitely the latter. It’s about transfers, net spend and FSG’s ambitions for Liverpool.
The Anfield Wrap transfer committee shows we do always become rancorous in preparation (and back in June, actually became rancorous in recording). For those of you that don’t listen, the way it works is I apply rough values to players we’ve been linked with, and players in the squad, and then four of our contributors become the committee and settle on a pattern of business. The argument advance usually revolves around how much Liverpool have to spend. Those who are going to be on the committee always feel it should be more. Especially Rob Gutmann.
Yesterday, there was increasing online discussion around how much Liverpool have spent this window. Regular commenter below Robin Crimes was disagreeing with Mike Nevin about Liverpool’s net spend this summer.
@michaeltnevin I thought our net spend was closer to £40m. Certainly no where near £10m
— Robin Crimes (@Robin_Crimes) August 31, 2015
Hello Net Spend, my old friend. It has been far too long.
Once reported add-ons have been taken off fees and payments to QPR regarding Raheem Sterling have been negotiated and a value set on Danny Ings then it would appear, by my calculations, that Liverpool have spent around £25m net. £32.5 for Christian Benteke, £21m Roberto Firmino, £12.5m for Nathaniel Clyne, £7m for Danny Ings and £3.5m for Joe Gomez up against Sterling £35m (Robin was pretty adamant about this), Fabio Borini £8m, Iago Aspas £4.5m, Rickie Lambert £3m, Sebastian Coates £2m.
£76.5m spent versus 52.5m recouped.
There’ll be loan fees received, signing-on fees paid out, agent costs and let’s swerve wages for a while. We know all that and we know we can’t know it accurately enough. Jose Enrique is going to West Brom for a nominal fee today. Ignoring that, too. Let’s deal with what we have to go on. So would we have thought it would be £25m before the summer? Is that enough?
The cold figure doesn’t seem like enough. Allowing for the teams around us and below us to have strengthened as well, it doesn’t seem like quite enough, certainly when the focus should always be first and should never be fourth. To do that, with the increase in TV money, should Liverpool have pushed more? Should we have been looking at one more big hitter somewhere?
And yet on the other hand, as has been said in many places this morning, we can only be impressed with the money the club got for Borini. We have done well there. There is a general vibe that we’ve done well to shift on the players we have and to have got the fees we have for them. Would we be happier had we been less able to do that? Let Coates go for nothing, Borini for 3m? Paid more for Clyne? I’d argue we went too soft on Sterling but we could have been softer in real terms. Would you be happy about that if it meant the net spend figure was that bit higher? It’s all a bit daft. Further, how many new players can you integrate across a summer?
So have we done good business or parsimonious business? I suppose there are a couple of ways to answer this. Does the squad look at least £25m better? On paper, I think it does. Losing 34-year-old Steven Gerrard alongside Borini, Aspas, Lambert, Johnson, Coates and Jones, and replacing them with James Milner, Benteke, Firmino, Ings, Clyne, Gomez and Adam Bogdan should lead to improvement — not least because those doing the replacing are far more likely on the whole to get on the pitch by virtue of being both good at football (and running) and actually present at the club. The above looks significantly more than £25m better.
But that is before you get to Sterling. It’s the loss of the 20-year-old that is the killer. If those players were being added to a list with Sterling still present on it, then that right there could be seen to be a £50m improvement. The consolation for Sterling going between 14/15 and 15/16 in real terms is the return of Daniel Sturridge, the man with 40 goals in 67 appearances for the Reds. The issue with that is we’re back at Sturridge with all the injury concerns that go with it.
The squad appears balanced though. Lazar Markovic going out on loan is a disappointment but we were beginning to look like having one or two too many for a “shadow” Europa League side — a front six of Jordan Henderson, Milner, Philippe Coutinho, Firmino, Sturridge and Benteke, covered by Lucas Leiva, Emre Can, Adam Lallana, Jordon Ibe, Ings and Divock Origi doesn’t have space for Joe Allen, João Carlos Teixeira or Jordan Rossiter, all of whom need time on the pitch for different reasons and that’s before you look beneath them to the prospects who haven’t been loaned out.
Markovic is 21 and desperately needs to play as much football as possible, whatever happens to him next. There has to be an allowance for injuries but it’s a fine line between under and over stocked. One more experienced head in that shadow front two or three would be nice, but you can spend your life saying that. If anything, we look a full back short.
The argument is — was there the possibility for Liverpool to make a greater leap forward using this transfer window? Can you add one more name somewhere of players who have moved and believe, yep, we could have got him and he would have made Liverpool significantly better? Would he have got his game regularly and improved us? The players have got to be available — and even then every signing, no matter how ‘proven’, comes with an element of risk attached. Could we have kept hold of Sterling? Got another three months’ minimum as we have done with Suarez before and Everton creditably have with Stones?
The truth is that good business may well be parsimonious business, and FSG’s Liverpool got whatever it is they’ve done quickly and efficiently. But in a season where you want to be sure, want to see full-blooded commitment to the holiest of tasks in front of us, where you want to see Liverpool go for everything in every way on and off the pitch, this is just the first outcome which leaves you wondering.
As ever, on the pitch is where the proof of the pudding will be, but FSG shouldn’t want Liverpool supporters left scratching their heads about what’s happening off it.
Pics: David Rawcliffe-Propaganda Photo