Liverpool have LOST their transfer market edge, it's time to be a SMART club again

Liverpool’s attempts at being a big club in the transfer market over recent years hasn’t exactly gone to plan. 

The Reds failed in their attempts to lure Aurelien Tchouameni, Moises Caicedo and Jude Bellingham to Anfield despite reportedly being prepared to pay big money. Other reasons were cited for missing out but the truth is, had Liverpool been willing to sign off on big salaries to go along with the big transfer fees, they would likely have at least one of the aforementioned trio of midfielders. 

However, their business model limits them. 

This isn’t FSG being cheap either. It just makes zero sense to essentially double down on a signing. If you part with a club record fee and then make that player one of your highest earners, the risk increases. 

And Liverpool aren’t in a position to take such risks. One bad deal can handicap the club in the transfer market for quite some time. 

This doesn’t mean the Reds aren’t a big club. In fact, they’re one of the biggest in the world. It is just that their recruitment model isn’t necessarily suited to going toe-to-toe with reckless spenders. If we’re being honest, that isn’t a bad thing. 

Liverpool don’t need to be involved in those conversations. 

Liverpool have LOST their edge

During his first stint with the club, Michael Edwards assembled one of the smartest recruitment teams in world football. They had access to data few other clubs had. They could interpret data in ways that others simply couldn’t. And this gave them an edge over their rivals. 

Obviously, Jurgen Klopp played his part and helped develop these players into superstars. But those behind the scenes deserve credit for singling out the likes of Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah, Diogo Jota, Andrew Robertson and Fabinho. Those tasked with negotiating deserve praise for getting these players in for reasonable fees. 

Sadio Mane Jurgen Klopp

Sadio Mane Jurgen Klopp

It was very much a joint effort but the pivotal part in this process was identifying under-valued talents. Because while the likes of Mane and Salah went on to become widely regarded as the benchmark in their roles, they weren’t viewed as that when they arrived at Anfield. The underlying numbers, however, had them as players with the potential to become Golden Boot winners if everything went to plan. 

Alisson and Virgil van Dijk arrived for big money but accepted wages within the current structure. They weren’t moving for money. They moved for the project. 

That model worked. It can still work now, with a few modifications since valuations have been rising over recent seasons. 

Diaz and Nunez signed for a premium

This is the model Liverpool should once again adopt. It is a model they never should have abandoned. 

The Reds need to revert back to being the smartest club in the league rather than looking to throw money around purely because they have it. With the exception of Alexis Mac Allister, what was the last piece of smart transfer business done by the club? 

Luis Diaz Darwin Nunez

Luis Diaz Darwin Nunez

Luis Diaz was signed for a premium after running exceptionally hot at Porto in the months prior to the move. Darwin Nunez arrived for a club record fee after his first hot streak in European football. The talent was there but, like with Diaz, he was signed for a premium because of his output at the time.

You could make the argument that Cody Gakpo was smart business given what others from the Eredivisie have fetched but, again, he didn’t have scalable output and he still doesn’t have a set role for the Reds. 

Time for low-cost gambles

The optics are irrelevant. It shouldn’t matter if one of the best players in Europe is available and they play in a position Liverpool need to strengthen. If they aren’t value for money, both in terms of transfer fee and wages, the Reds shouldn’t waste their time looking. 

If Edwards and Richard Hughes want to build yet another successful squad, the focus should be on smart business rather than winning the transfer window. If you win the transfer window, you generally lose in the season.

Expect the Merseyside club to welcome what many will likely view as gambles this summer, but these gambles, the low-cost ones, have more opportunity to become success stories due to the fact they don’t have the pressure of a huge price-tag. 

Whether or not they’re involved in bidding wars for the best players around, Liverpool are a big club. They’re also a smart club. Leaning into the latter is how they have success.

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