Liverpool Haven’t Overspent – They’ve Simply Levelled the Premier League Playing Field

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There’s always one team that takes it upon itself to seize the headlines in a given transfer window.

Two years ago it was Manchester City, who kicked off the Guardiola era by spending a record £213m in a single window.

Last season it was PSG, who blew the market to smithereens by recording the two highest transfer fees in history – at the time, by a considerable distance – on Neymar and Kylian Mbappe.

Last season alone saw the world transfer record for a defender broken three times, as Man City spent 52m on Benjamin Mendy, then broke their own record days later to sign Kyle Walker, only for Liverpool to blow them out the water in January when they spent 75m on Virgil Van Dijk. 

And it was this deal that served as the foundation for the big story to come out of the 2018/19 summer window. 

Amplified by the relative silence of the pre-World Cup transfer market, Liverpool exploded out of the traps early on in the summer, following up their January outlay with a string of high profile summer signings. 

In came Fabinho, Alisson and Xherdan Shaqiri, in addition to Naby Keita, whose transfer had been agreed 12 months earlier.

In spending in such a decisive, almost cocky manner, they made an emphatic point of shining the spotlight on themselves. Coupled with their well documented showing in the Champions League, the 220m they’ve spent in the last two windows means that they are now expected by most to perform at the highest level.

It’s a strategy that comes with its critics, especially since it’s something that has been uncharacteristic of them in the last few seasons. The Reds have been accused, by some, of overspending, of panic buying and of living outwith their means – ‘ruining football’ is the old cliche that comes to mind.

Having spent so much, anything other than a Premier League or Champions League win this season represents a catastrophic failure, if you were to take the prevailing opinion of the cynics as your own.

But while it’s true that Jurgen Klopp does desperately need to add a major trophy to his swelling Liverpool reign, it’s important to realise that Liverpool’s transfer spend this summer serves only to put them on more of a level footing with their Premier League and major European rivals. 

In terms of the finances invested in their personnel, this summer has not put them ‘ahead’ of the top dogs.

The area which highlights this, more than anything else, is their net transfer spend over the last three seasons, in comparison to their expected title rivals of this season. 

Prior to this summer, Liverpool were the only side in the Premier League top six to bring in more than they spent in both the 2016/17 and 2017/18 seasons. 

Over the same period, Manchester City clocked up a net transfer spend of £380m, and Manchester United’s came in at £235m.

With this in mind, then, the £150m Liverpool have spent this summer looks a little less dramatic.

It’s easy to get caught up in what teams are spending, but what strikes me, rather than the figures involved, is the value for money they’ve managed to achieve in the current market – where top players go for upwards of 100m –  and just how considered, and well-suited to their needs, the signings seem to be.

They have addressed, and then some, the major issues which cost them last season. Alisson adds a world class keeper to their ranks, Fabinho and Keita add terrific quality to their midfield -which looked light in the run-in last season – and Shaqiri, at a bargain basement price, offers some much needed depth to the Liverpool forward line. 

And they’ve signed all of them for a collective price just north of the fee they received from Barcelona for Philippe Coutinho in January. 

We’d be remiss in overlooking, also, that they are the men Klopp wants, rather than the men he had to settle for. He waited a year to sign Keita from Leipzig, rather than tossing the deal and settling for a plan B. He made it clear he wanted Alisson, but when it looked like that deal might not happen for the weeks in which the World Cup was underway, he didn’t flap and go for someone else – he waited, and put his faith in Loris Karius for the time being.

It’s this trait in Klopp’s recruitment policy that has worked miracles in comparison to the Reds’ prior transfer business.

Gone are the Andy Carrolls, the Ricky Lamberts, the Lazar Markovics (whoops). By being consistently patient, Klopp and Liverpool prove to prospective players that they value them, and it’s this carefully cultivated reputation for successful recruitment, perhaps more than any other aspect of his management, that attracts players to Klopp’s Reds.

So mindless panic buying? Nah, man. Liverpool have addressed exactly what they needed to address, and in doing so they’ve brought their spending up to levels just abut comparable with City and United over the last few years. 

And about time, say those of a Red persuasion.

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