IT’S the middle of June and Liverpool have already managed to upset a good chunk of their supporter base by signing a kid who most have rarely seen play, being made to issue a public apology for tapping up their top target and dragging out negotiations over a couple million pounds for another.
Many have been swept up in the transfer fever and allowed themselves to get overly excited about Liverpool’s potential new boys, which has led to disappointment, in spite of the fact that the transfer window doesn’t officially open until July 1.
What won’t have helped the mood among supporters is that rivals Arsenal, Everton and the two Manchester clubs have all made signings at this stage — though Arsenal and Manchester United have only made one signing each, the same as Liverpool after confirmation of the Dominic Solanke deal.
Perhaps it’s the issue of spending money, John Henry and co have been known for their moneyball strategy and some will continuously covet more free-spending owners. Aside from Arsenal’s Bosman signing Sead Kolasinac, Everton have spent over £50 million on Jordan Pickford and Davy Klaassen, Manchester City just shy of £80m on Bernardo Silva and Ederson Moraes, and United around £30m on Victor Lindelof, while the amount The Reds have spent so far is to be decided, once a tribunal over a fee for Solanke has concluded.
However reports suggested the club were willing to go all out in their pursuit of Virgil van Dijk, with the fee touted to be upwards of £60m, so who can truly say that the club aren’t willing to spend at this stage? The only indication of that has been the highly publicised talks with Roma to sign Mohamed Salah, where the two parties have struggled to agree on a fee. The question has been why the club don’t just pay the few extra million Roma want to ensure they get their man. That would be all well and good except for the fact the Italians need to raise 30m euros by the end of the month to comply with Financial Fair Play regulations, so Liverpool have their valuation and won’t bend to Roma’s demands. Seems fair enough, doesn’t it?
We tried something new last week as we took a look back at the week’s news in the first of our new ‘Wrap Up’ videos — get on it:
The other issue is that Liverpool appear to have missed out on two of their main targets already. The embarrassing public climbdown over Virgil van Dijk has left a sour taste enough to almost forget that The Reds also withdrew their interest in Ryan Sessegnon with Spurs looking the most likely, though it looks as though no deal has been done there.
In fact, last year’s second-placed side haven’t secured any signings as it stands and neither have title winners Chelsea. Last season’s two tops teams have been linked with fresh faces, but nothing has officially come to fruition. Liverpool have been slaughtered over and over for “monitoring” targets and failing to get deals over the line, yet two of the country’s best teams are still doing the same, if not less as far as we’re aware.
We’ve seen it all before though, haven’t we? Liverpool’s interest in a player is reported by media outlets, the club appear to stall over the fee and then another club comes in who are more willing to pay the money and get their man — Gylfi Sigurdsson and Clint Dempsey with Spurs as well as Willian and Salah himself with Chelsea. That’s probably why there’s such clamour for the club to get their deals over the line as quick as possible, though that sort of thing can be avoided by contingency planning at early stages to avoid panic buying or last-minute flapping.
In the last 10 years the club have only signed five players prior to today’s date — Lucas Leiva and Krisztian Nemeth in 2007, Jonjo Shelvey in 2010, Jordan Henderson in 2011 and Rickie Lambert in 2014 — and just a further seven signings in the month of June — Mikel San Jose in 2007, Glen Johnson in 2009, Luis Alberto, Iago Aspas and Simon Mignolet in 2013, Joe Gomez in 2015 and Sadio Mane in 2016.
There can be many reasons why that is the case — lengthy negotiations, the player playing internationals etc — but it shows that very little business is done by the club before the window actually opens. Maybe that’s the issue, the club have form for not getting in quick enough. Except some of the club’s best summer signings have come after the window has opened; Fernando Torres, Yossi Benayoun, Raul Meireles, Adam Lallana, Emre Can, Roberto Firmino and Gini Wijnaldum to name a few.
With the Premier League releasing next season’s fixtures last week, there seems to be an increasing sense that the football never really stops. Once the season finishes it’s onto transfer rumours until there are some pre-season games to enjoy and then the season is back underway, there doesn’t seem to be much of a break between one season and another anymore — particularly with post-season friendlies becoming more frequent.
Jürgen Klopp may have shot himself in the foot to some extent by describing the club’s work around transfers as “pretty much done” in the aftermath of the season’s curtain call. That could suggest that Liverpool were ready to wrap up all their deals once they were given the chance but what is more likely, given the context of the van Dijk tapping up situation, is that the club had already identified or even spoken to most of their targets ready to make moves over the summer. Anything beyond that has its own variables; damaging leaks to the press, the other negotiating club looking to make an example and so on.
What may stick in the craw for some is how Everton have gone about their business so far. Liverpool supporters have had years of joy watching their Blue neighbours have to settle for mediocrity in the transfer market but it seems they are starting to get their act together. That shouldn’t even come into the consideration of Liverpool fans, though. On top of the fact Everton have completely different ambitions to Liverpool, these aren’t players The Reds were in for and have no bearing on how the club will operate in this window. Also it’s impossible to know what is going on behind the scenes at either club; Everton may know they’re about to get a financial boost from the sale of Romelu Lukaku, which would turn the fume right on its head.
Fenway Sports Group have promised to back Klopp in the transfer market this summer and the manager has talked about spending big and, as it stands, there’s no reason to believe that won’t be the case.
It’s the middle of June, not even four weeks after The Reds secured Champions League football with a 3-0 win over Middlesbrough. There’s a while to go and, no matter what other clubs get up to, Liverpool already have their targets in mind and will have contingency plans in place in case they miss out on those.
The club have got the manager they want in charge and their ‘dream team’ in the boardroom. It’s time to start trusting their actions and maybe being a little bit patient.
To hear discussion around Liverpool’s targets and more subscribe to The Anfield Wrap and listen to the latest episode of ‘The Gutter’ – our regular round-up of all the transfer talk. Look out too for special podcasts on new signings when they happen.