It’s not very often that a top tier football club gets taught a lesson on a very public stage. However, that is exactly what happened to Liverpool following the Moises Caicedo and Romeo Lavia dramas. Now that some time has passed, have the Reds actually learned anything?
Liverpool have typically been very smart buyers on the transfer market in recent years as they built one of the strongest foundations of any team in the world.
One of their main cruxes was to secure players before they become a household name. Once they got them through the door, Jurgen Klopp and his team would help them find the next level.
This system has worked incredibly well for the club. Unfortunately, as the transfer market continues to explode and player valuations steadily increase, it has become clear Liverpool and FSG will not always be able to keep their spending under a set threshold.
The club found bargains in the form of manageable release clauses for Alexis Mac Allister and Dominik Szoboszlai.
However, their pursuit of the the Belgian teenager Lavia from Southampton proved to be quite cumbersome.
Southampton were very clear from the beginning that £50 million was what it would take to get a deal across the line. Liverpool, seemingly stuck in their old ways, made 3 offers that all fell below that number.
At the end, there was only a £5 million difference and yet the club did not move. Instead, they let things sit for weeks apparently thinking their public rejections would go unnoticed. As it were, Chelsea swooped in with a £48 million bid for Lavia.
This lit some kind of fire at Liverpool as they abandoned all interest in the Belgian and instead agreed to a potential record £110 million deal with Brighton for Caicedo.
Yet, even though the clubs agreed, the player, his agent or his camp, depending on who you ask, decided Chelsea was his only destination as the Blues had been chasing him all summer.
This very public rejection sent shockwaves throughout the footballing world as the Reds were left exposed. The rest of the clubs now knew Liverpool had big money to throw around thus inflicting damage on future negotiations.
While Liverpool held their offer to Brighton, their only solace from the situation was making Chelsea overpay for their top target.
With the Ecuadorian on his way to London, Liverpool believed they would be able to fall back on their Lavia plan. Suddenly, the club deemed Lavia worthy of a £60 million bid that was accepted by his club.
The player, clearly slighted after being so publicly cast aside, rejected a move to Anfield. He also chose a big money move to Chelsea.
Had Liverpool forked over £50 million over a month earlier, they would have had their long-term solution to the No. 6 hole in the side. Instead, they opted to nickel and dime with lowball offers before massively overpaying an alternate target.
That blew up spectacularly in their face. What has happened since shows that maybe Liverpool might not have learned as much as we hoped they would have.
Their response to such public embarrassments was to sign Wataru Endo from Stuttgart for a fee of €18 million. That is a cost the club can live with. Endo, 30, could very well prove to be a solid contributor for Liverpool.
However, his signing was clearly a case of finding a player and club that could absolutely not refuse an overture from the Reds. It was damage control 101.
Yet, outside of that move, Liverpool have gone back to being “linked” with various players but signing none. Their recent £25.8 million offer for long-term target Andre was swiftly rejected by Fluminese.
He has a release clause close to £34.3 million. This is yet another case of Liverpool trying to outthink the situation with lowball offers. The Brazilian season is hitting a crucial point and it’s obvious Fluminese will not be bullied or tricked.
At 22, Andre would prove to be a great signing for now and the future and for an almost nothing cost compared to the numbers being thrown around in the market.
Yet, Liverpool have deemed him as of this writing, not worth an extra £10 million. They also do not want to pay £70+ million for Cheick Doucoure. It appears nothing has been learned from their missteps.
If the transfer operation does not change soon, there are going to be many lessons that need to be learned from in the future.