EVERY so often I get to sit in a room with people who know what they’re doing, people who have genuine contacts, people who check their stories with multiple sources, people who take those checks to the clubs and ask for comments, people who know how difficult it is to get deals over the line, people who genuinely have an idea of what’s happening.
And I never ask them, off or on air, what they know; never ask them what they really know but can’t talk about. It seems rude to do that. That’s their job that we’re talking about, I’m just a bloke with a keyboard who loves the sound of his own voice and is willing to speculate wildly.
Just over a week ago, I sat in a room with Melissa Reddy from Goal.com, Glenn Price from ESPN and the ever lovely Robert Gutmann of this parish. And we talked transfers. We talked the usual suspects, the lads that we’ve been taking about all summer because, really, when it comes down to it, we’ve spent the summer talking about four or five lads. One of them is already here and Liverpool seem to be doing their best to grab the others while their prices go higher by the day. We talked about the possibility, the remote, beautiful, possibility of Kylian Mbappe, of Naby Keita, of whether The Reds could still go back in for Virgil van Dijk, of whether any of us would be moved to tears of joy by the arrival of the Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, of whether left-backs were a thing that interested the world. And, in the middle of all this, I came up with a theory. As with all my theories, what I saw as a blinding flash of insight is probably the most obvious thing on the planet but I blurted it out anyway.
And I’ll share this theory with you, if you haven’t already heard it.
Let’s be honest here, Liverpool are shopping in a whole different area at the moment.
We said we’ve spent the summer talking about the same four or five lads and we all know who they are. And the reason that we’re talking about the same names all the time is that these are the names in the stories that we’re reading. Which means that these are the names in the stories that the journalists are telling. Which means that these are the names in the stories they’re hearing from agents and players and clubs and foreign journalists.
"It's not just the fee [that holds up a transfer]."
— The Anfield Wrap (@TheAnfieldWrap) July 4, 2017
Which means that the club are focused and determined. The club know who they want and they’re not messing round. Certainly not after all that unpleasantness with van Dijk.
There had been plenty who had speculated last month that Liverpool would break their record fee this month, once, twice, probably three times.
And, speculating wildly with no better contacts than you and not being a betting man of any kind, I’m almost willing to put money on that happening.
We’ve got Mohamed Salah. Liverpool went there, Liverpool paid the money. There may have been haggling, you would hope there had been haggling, but they went there. Liverpool didn’t go to Roma and take Fabio Borini, Liverpool went there and took one of their top players, took an influential lad who can add to us, who Jürgen Klopp wanted and set the tone for the summer.
The Keita deal seems to be gaining real traction. Or not, if you believe Leipzig. The club seem to be pushing this though; letting the world know that they’re willing to meet Leipzig’s apparent £70 million valuation. Jürgen has seen a player who can give him something he hasn’t got and the club are going all out to get him.
Who would bet against the van Dijk deal not rising Lazarus like from the ashes of that apology? Not me. There have been no other real links. Not with him to other clubs. Not with us for other defenders. Chelsea have nearly got an expensive centre-back over the line, nobody’s talking about Manchester City. Michael Keane was never really linked to us after those initial rumours, Harry Maguire went to Leicester to show the talk about him was nothing but misguided murmuring. There are no other names linked. None. As Neil Sang said on this week’s Transfers Unwrapped show, it’s down to the player now; all he has to do is let his current employers know that there’s only one place he wants to go, all that has to happen is one other club bid and surely Liverpool can start asking questions again? I’m with messrs Sang and Jonathan Northcroft; I can see this happening. I pray I’m right.
— The Anfield Wrap (@TheAnfieldWrap) June 21, 2017
Oxlade-Chamberlain? Sound. I won’t pretend to be excited but this time last year I wasn’t turning cartwheels over Gini Wijnaldum so what do I know?
A left-back. Go on then, not overly arsed. (Maybe that Andrew Robertson?)
Which leaves the biggie, doesn’t it?
Imagine. Imagine a world where Liverpool get Mbappe. Seems unlikely, doesn’t it? Does to me too. But lots of things seem unlikely to me that end up happening, so I’m willing to believe that Mbappe is possible.
Scoff if you like. Point to the fact that he’ll go to Real Madrid. Or Paris Saint Germain. Or Bayern Munich. Or Barcelona. But I’ll wheel out the well trodden argument that he’s going to end up there anyway and that he may just benefit from a stepping stone club first and that Liverpool could be just that stepping stone, that he could be persuaded by a manger with a reputation for developing young players.
The thing is, The Reds have put themselves in the conversation. And you couldn’t see that happening a year ago, could you? But now? Now it’s possible.
And this is where the theory, finally, for those who didn’t hear me make it up on the spot, comes in:
There’s an idea, a strong idea, that Jürgen isn’t going in for a striker. The fact that Liverpool didn’t seem to chase Alexandre Lacazette in any apparently dedicated manner might be testament to this idea. The idea is Jürgen is happy with what he’s got going forward. But. But. If he can get Mbappe, then that’s an absolute bonus, that’s the lad that you go all out for and take him while the one time chance is there.
WATCH: Episode four of The Wrap Up talking transfers, Steven Gerrard and pre-season
And this is the theory: If Liverpool can land Mbappe, if Liverpool can land those few names that they’re constantly linked with, what are we looking at?
- Salah: £40m.
- Keita: £70m.
- Van Dijk: £70m.
- Oxlade-Chamberlain: £25m.
- A left-back: £10m.
- Mbappe: £110m.
Lads, you’ve just spent £325m. In one summer. Sell Mamadou Sakho, Alberto Moreno, a few others, what are you getting? £100m? Still spent over £200m in one summer. The club are shopping where they’re supposed to be shopping. They’re shopping at the big table.
And to be alive in the summer that Liverpool do this? Very bliss. To misquote some old poet or other.
The theory is, this is the one (to quote the now departed Stone Roses), this is the summer. This is the summer that Liverpool go for it. This is the summer that Fenway Sports Group throw everything at making top four somewhere that Liverpool live forever, that leagues are something Liverpool challenge for every year. And that going for it may mean that they spend nothing for the next three or four windows but who would be arsed? You’d take that, wouldn’t you?
Liverpool are going to build something this summer. Let this be your annual reminder that we can all be something bigger.
Up the shopping at the top table Reds.
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