Almost a week on from the transfer window closing, and now we’re through the international break, we are getting closer to the return of Premier League football. Liverpool made 5 signings in the summer of 2017, with Naby Keita set to arrive next summer from RB Leipzig.
It’s well known that the owners of Liverpool, Fenway Sports Group, have somewhat divided the fanbase. The two camps are fairly self-explanatory, one wanting the owners to stay, others wanting them out. This ongoing debate between us always makes it interesting to analyse their performance in controversial transfer windows such as this one. Their attempts to sign players have not always been successful, but that doesn’t mean the failures are entirely their fault. What we must ask ourselves is whether they did everything they could this summer to make it the most successful window possible for the club.
The answer, in my opinion, is â??sort of’. I think the credibility of FSG as serious football club owners has increased substantially on the back of this window. The evidence we need to look at is the â??big’ transfer sagas of our window. Specifically, 3. The sagas regarding Virgil van Dijk, Philippe Coutinho, and Naby Keita. Out of all the transfer dealings we did this summer, these were the 3 that rumbled on for the duration of the window, and in two of those we ultimately achieved what we were trying to do.
We’ll start with Coutinho. We kept him, exactly as FSG said we would. We resisted incredibly tempting offers for the want-away midfielder. We resisted selling him after he’d handed in a transfer request and reportedly refused to play in the Champions League. He faked a back injury to try and get out and we still stood firm. He was arguably our best player last season, we wanted to keep him, and so we did. Top banana. There’s a bit of rift between himself and the fans at the moment, but once he pulls on a Liverpool shirt again, experiences some Champions League nights at Anfield, and gets back to scoring goals, we’ll all move on. He’ll probably have a great season the back of it, and if goes next summer, we’re still happy because we’ve had him a season longer. All-in-all, we achieved what we set out to do at the beginning of the summer despite the obstacles being thrown in our way. We kept Coutinho, brownie points for FSG
And so we move onto Naby Keita. Again, this is where Klopp comes more into the picture as he is the man who has been identifying targets to sign for us this summer. He decided he wanted Naby Keita and wanted no alternative. We were linked with other midfielders, but all the way along, it was all about Naby Keita, our desire to sign Naby Keita, our offers to Leipzig for Naby Keita. Klopp’s reluctance to seek an alternative made the job a lot more difficult for FSG, who were willing to pay the money for Keita but couldn’t negotiate a deal to bring him to Liverpool this summer with RB Leipzig.
I think this is a situation where once again, FSG deserve some credit for doing the best they could. They’ve come to a compromise with the German club by getting Keita sorted for next season, on a cheaper deal. As much as that doesn’t help us this season, Leipzig’s nature of playing hardball put them into a tricky spot and the club have got the best possible outcome given the circumstances, in my opinion. At the end of the day, we did indeed manage to secure one of the club’s long-term targets in some capacity, and you can’t really argue with that.
Virgil van Dijk next. This is one where FSG failed to successfully bring in the man they wanted. Although again, the question is that did FSG do everything they could in this situation? This is perhaps the one case where I don’t think they did. Now of course there ended being a lot of tip-toeing around Southampton. I think it’s a let-down that we didn’t at least make a bid on deadline day but given the situation we put ourselves in during our previous pursuit of the player in June, we as fans can’t be sure what consequences putting in a bid might’ve had. Still, my guess is that the repercussions would’ve been minor at best. It’s a disappointment for me that there was no new bid put on the table by 11pm on the evening of the 31st August.
Still, the spectrum of centre-backs doesn’t start and end with Virgil van Dijk. While there wasn’t a plethora of options, he wasn’t the only defender on the market Liverpool could’ve invested in. So why didn’t Liverpool sign someone else during this window? In short, Jurgen Klopp again. Klopp did reiterate his desire to push ahead with the four centre-back choices of Joel Matip, Dejan Lovren, Ragnar Klaven and Joe Gomez this season if â??the right man’ could not be brought in. I actually like this quality that Klopp has. He has identified the man that will fit best in his team and is not prepared to accept an alternative option who most likely has less quality. There’ll have been conversations within the club between manager and owners where Klopp will have voiced these preferences, and FSG will have gone along with it. What are they going to do? Tell Klopp how to run his team? I wouldn’t foresee that going down well, that’s not their area. Personally, I’d have kept Mamadou Sakho, but is that really a decision that would’ve benefitted FSG? Klopp had made it clear that Sakho wouldn’t be played, so from a business perspective, what was the point of keeping him at the club?
Regarding Van Dijk, the issue for me here is the way the club initially went about trying to sign the player, and the information they were happy to tell the press about it. I know hundreds of transfers pretty much go down the same way (Coutinho and Barcelona, anyone?) but if we hadn’t been so trigger happy releasing info to the media, we’d have signed the player, no doubt about it. Instead, we fucked ourselves over for the transfer entirely, leaving ourselves in a limbo of whether or not we can/should bid again.
So the debate is still firmly in the balance. Did FSG do everything they could to make it a successful window for Liverpool? What more could they have done to make the squad stronger? Let us know!
Article by Ben Kelly