Modern transfer market giving FSG a wakeup call

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 13: Liverpool owner John W Henry with his wife Linda Pizzuti Henry during the Premier League match between Chelsea FC and Liverpool FC at Stamford Bridge on August 13, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Robin Jones/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 13: Liverpool owner John W Henry with his wife Linda Pizzuti Henry during the Premier League match between Chelsea FC and Liverpool FC at Stamford Bridge on August 13, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Robin Jones/Getty Images) /

Declan Rice to Arsenal for £105 million. Kai Havertz to Arsenal for £65 million. Rasmus Højlund to Manchester United for £72 million. Moises Caicedo to Chelsea for £115 million. These are some of the deals being made by Premier League clubs during the summer transfer market.

Liverpool paid a combined £95 million to bring in Alexis Mac Allister and Dominik Szoboszlai early in the window. They were able to secure both of these talented players at a reasonable cost as a result of release clauses in their contract.

That is something FSG and the Reds transfer department have done very well during their run of success. They identify quality players that have a clause and scoop them up typically very swiftly.

However, when Liverpool are forced to negotiate a price for one of their targets, they have not shown an ability to get any deals over the line in a timely manner.

In today’s market, the biggest clubs in the world are getting more comfortable having to fork out big fees to acquire their targets with the above deals just being a handful of the plethora of big money moves being made.

With the Saudi Pro League taking the market to the next level, a club that operates within strict guidelines such as Liverpool is being quickly left behind.

Liverpool spent over a month haggling with Southampton over Romeo Lavia. The Championship side were very clear from the beginning that they wanted £50 million or no deal.

However, the Reds made offers of £37 million, £42 million and £46 million for the talented Belgian. All of which were emphatically rejected by Southampton.

This sort of haggling over less than £10 million is frustrating to see for a side that is so clearly in need of reinforcements. Adding fuel to the angst and confusion among fans and pundits, Liverpool received an unexpected £52 million combined for the sales of Fabinho and Jordan Henderson.

Yet, it was reported the club felt the £50m valuation on Lavia was too high. If someone could tell me the difference in a player’s abilities that would make the difference for that extra £4 million, please do so.

Things really kicked into gear when Chelsea, sensing hesitation from Liverpool, made a £48 million bid for Lavia. Liverpool’s response stunned everyone.

They pivoted and agreed a potential British record fee of £110 million for Chelsea’s top target, Moises Caicedo.

It was unusual as Liverpool obliterated the market value on Caicedo in a way they have never done before. Unfortunately, for various reported reasons, the player himself only wanted a move to London.

After a few days, it was made official after Chelsea came over the top with their own record breaking bid for the Ecuadorian.

After such a public humiliation, Liverpool tried to go back to the Southampton well as they suddenly decided Lavia was worth £60 million after thinking £50m was excessive.

This agreed deal between the clubs proved for naught yet again as the player chose Chelsea who have agreed a deal with the Saints as of this writing.

So, in less than a week Liverpool refused to meet Southampton’s valuation of Lavia, turned around and were willing to spend double the market value for Caicedo before returning and opting to pay over the odds for Lavia as desperation set in.

What do they have to show for their efforts? Two very public transfer fiascos that reflect very poorly on whoever is truly running things at the club.

It makes you wonder if Mac Allister and Szoboszlai did not have release clauses, would the club have been able to secure their signatures?

The club’s unwillingness to overpay in the transfer market has prevented them from securing some elite talents in recent years such as Jude Bellingham, Aurélien Tchouaméni, Enzo Fernandez and more.

While good players have still arrived, it has been at such a slow pace of 1-2 per window, that the club left themselves a massive overhaul needed this summer.

It appears as if FSG were not aware of the massive figures that are needed in the current market to rebuild a side. For example, Manchester United has spent more in one year for Erik Ten Haag then Klopp has in his entire Liverpool career.

There are people that will point to net spend, with players leaving for fees to balance the books, but if Liverpool want to maintain their elite status both in England and Europe, they must become comfortable paying larger fees to get the players they want and need.

The club is currently valued at almost €4 billion. They are a recognized global brand with commercial deals galore. Yet, in the transfer market, they operate as if they are a 10th place squad that needs to be wary in who they bring in.

I’m not saying to blindly throw money at every player you can, but there is obviously money to be spent that they just don’t. The only possible upside of the Caicedo dilemma is it showed FSG’s hand.

There is money available and it can be used on the right player. So why did it take a public embarrassment for us to find that out?

At the end of the day, Liverpool must begin working the market like the massive club they are. They belong at the big boy table and there is no doubt high-end talent will flock to Anfield if they are just given the chance.

Relying on Klopp miracles each season has worked for the majority of the FSG era, but there are limitations even on the German.

The transfer market requires money to be spent in order to be competitive. If the Reds want to keep their place among the elite they must finally accept this and open the vaults.

Let’s see how much they truly value on-field success over balancing the books.

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