WHEN Jürgen Klopp arrived at the club just over one year ago there was much talk about the “mass exodus” he oversaw in his first summer transfer window at Borussia Dortmund as he revamped the squad with ruthless efficiency to create a squad capable of playing his style of football.
The transfer window for English clubs is now officially shut and we can turn all our attentions back to the proper footie again. Klopp’s first summer window at Liverpool has seen the biggest exodus of players in the club’s history. Fourteen players have been sold or released, with a handful more sent out on loan. Meanwhile, six new faces have been brought in, along with Marko Grujic arriving from Red Star Belgrade after his loan spell following his signing back in January.
Here’s the full breakdown of the ins and outs of summer 2016:
- Joel Matip (Schalke, free transfer)
- Loris Karius (Mainz, £4.7m),
- Sadio Mane (Southampton, £30m*)
- Alex Manninger (free)
- Ragnar Klavan (Augsburg, £4.2m)
- Georginio Wijnaldum (Newcastle, £23m*)
* Mane’s fee could rise up to £34 million with add-ons, while Wijnaldum’s could rise to £25 million.
TOTAL: £61.9 million
- Kolo Toure (released)
- Jose Enrique (released)
- Samed Yesil (released)
- Jordan Rossiter (Rangers, £250,000)
- Joao Teixeira (Porto, £250,000)
- Jerome Sinclair (Watford, £4m)
- Sergi Canos (Norwich, £2.5m*)
- Martin Skrtel (Fenerbahce, £5.5m)
- Jordon Ibe (Bournemouth, £15m)
- Joe Allen (Stoke, £13m)
- Brad Smith (Bournemouth, £3m*)
- Christian Benteke (Crystal Palace, £27m*)
- Luis Alberto (Lazio, £4.3m*)
- Mario Balotelli (Nice, free transfer)
* Canos’ fee could rise to £4.5m, Smith’s to £6m, Benteke’s to £32m and Luis Alberto’s to £7m.
TOTAL: £74.8 million
- Ryan Fulton (Chesterfield)
- Danny Ward (Huddersfield)
- Adam Bogdan (Wigan)
- Ryan Kent (Barnsley)
- Jon Flanagan (Burnley)
- Allan (Hertha Berlin)
- Taiwo Awoniyi (N.E.C.)
- Andre Wisdom (RB Salzburg)
- Lazar Markovic (Sporting CP)
Not including potential add-ons, this leaves Liverpool with a profit of around £12.9m, depending on which sources you take the fees from. To set this in context, this puts Liverpool in the bottom three clubs for net spend in the league in a summer when Premier League clubs have topped the £1billion mark in transfer fees.
There is a significant section of fans who will say this shows a total lack of ambition by the owners and that Liverpool should be spending much more in order to compete with their rivals. Yet, when you look at why Liverpool’s net spend was so low this summer, much of it comes down to the hefty transfer fees recouped by selling “deadwood” on the fringes of the squad.
Liverpool’s squad has been improved without selling a single first-team starter.
The sale of Christian Benteke, a total misfit at the club, effectively covered the purchase of Sadio Mane — who looks to be the ideal fit for Klopp’s system. Joe Allen, Martin Skrtel and Jordon Ibe spent most of last season on the bench and have been shipped on for over £30m combined. This appears to be excellent business by the club.
Klopp has managed to trim the squad down to size by shifting players he felt were surplus to requirements. At the same time, he has brought in individuals specifically suited to what he wants to achieve.
Mane brings electric pace and direct running, which entirely transforms the way Liverpool attack. He already looks to be a potential star in the making — and arguably far better suited to Liverpool’s needs than Mario Gotze would ever have been.
In Joel Matip, Liverpool have secured one of the Bundesliga’s outstanding defenders on a free transfer (he was included in the team of the year for the competition by many analysts) when his market value would surely have surpassed the £20m mark had he been under contract.
Ragnar Klavan looks an astute buy for a modest fee, while Loris Karius could be Liverpool’s long-term number one keeper having cost just £4.7m. Georginio Wijnaldum is yet to fully hit his stride, and there are some concerns about his contribution so far, but the Dutchman has traditionally offered pace, energy and goal threat and longer term should add quality and depth to Klopp’s midfield options.
It has also gone under the radar that for the first time since 2014, Liverpool have not lost a key player this summer. There were murmurs of interest in Philippe Coutinho at the start of the transfer window, but the Brazilian’s services have been retained — it was crucial Liverpool kept hold of their star man.
Of course, the obvious points of concern remain. The pursuit of Ben Chilwell ended when Klopp balked at Leicester’s £10m asking price and the club decided not to follow up on any alternative left-back targets, leaving the erratic Alberto Moreno and James Milner as an auxiliary option to cover the left-back position. It’s hardly ideal.
Many fans also yearned for a quality central midfielder to partner Emre Can, but a move for Borussia Monchengladbach midfielder Mahmoud Dahoud never materialised due to the German club’s reluctance to sell another prized asset after losing Granit Xhaka to Arsenal. It means that Wijnaldum’s signing is somewhat confusing, given he is far more of an attacking midfielder. Despite much scrutiny, it appears Jordan Henderson will remain a key figure for the time being.
Let’s be clear — it is very much Klopp, not FSG, who has actively decided not to strengthen these areas this summer. As he has openly explained, none of the players would still be there if he didn’t want them to be a part of his plans.
We can complain about the lack of a left back or midfield signing all we like (and it is perfectly OK to question the manager’s decisions from time to time), but the simple matter is that Klopp chose not to pursue alternatives in these positions. We can therefore only get behind the manager and the players we have. Starting with Leicester City at Anfield.
It is worth remembering this is only the start of Klopp’s rebuilding process at Liverpool. Trying to fix everything in one summer is not possible, nor is it necessarily desirable. It may well be a case of Klopp waiting until the right targets become available, and in the meantime maintaining a stable base as he gradually moulds the squad according to his requirements.
It might have been a slightly underwhelming summer in terms of incomings, but the sales have been excellent. Klopp built his Dortmund side over a period of several seasons — success was not instantly achieved. He puts greater emphasis on training rather than transfers and he will do things in his own way.
It has been an efficient and strategic first summer for Klopp and the process of reshaping his Liverpool squad remains only in its primitive stages. It’s too early to call the transfer window a success or a failure. We must first wait and see how it all pans out.
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