There isn’t total abandonment of what came before. Even the most shrewd and cunning in the transfer market need to go against their self-imposed restrictions and break the bank. And that’s what Liverpool could be set to do with the signing of Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
For those who can generate some excitement or at least a little intrigue by what Liverpool are doing this summer, there is a lot to admire about the way the club are going about their business. The way Brendan Rodgers and anyone else threw around the word “philosophy” last season bordered on the comical following his initial introduction at the club. But it’s clear to see that there is now a distinct philosophy in the club’s build. It’s no longer that profligate spree that drew such criticism a few seasons ago. Was there really any consistency to the signings of Andy Carroll, Stuart Downing and Jordan Henderson, other than them being all English? Sure, a couple of negatives but nothing that would indicate a clear path of thought for on-pitch direction.
But Liverpool’s latest target from Shakhtar Donetsk is proof that the club are not just out to get a bargain and that they are capable if the right player comes along. And at £22million, Mkhitaryan is very much the player that can tie this new movement at Anfield together. It’s not about being defined by spending: Liverpool are holding true to Rodgers’ philosophy and washing their hands with what came before. Andy Carroll’s permanent transfer to West Ham is helping the cause.
Maybe the owners at the club needed assurances that Rodgers was the right man for the job. Not that they didn’t trust in the manager they’d appointed, but so much was lost during the tenure of Kenny Dalglish that this time it would have been wise to be absolutely sure. Should the club complete the signing of Mkhitaryan, it will prove that the well isn’t close to running dry. There is a method that seems to be impressing. It’s not erratic or hard to decipher: Mkhitaryan, who scored 25 goals last season for Shakhtar, will add a similar number of goals to this Liverpool side should everything go to plan. If the club are capable, why not take that leap that could unlock a promising future?
And the constant here is the view to the future. Christian Atsu, at 21, has also been linked with a move to Anfield. Luis Alberto will prove to be a very good signing. 21-year-old Coutinho set the benchmark and proved that this is a ball the club can run with. Iago Aspas will arrive as the oldest of the newcomers at 25 (bar Kolo Toure), but such is his lack of experience at a top level club that he too will receive an education in much the same way as the younger signings.
The youth will help to cleanse the club of the disappointments and poor displays of the recent past. Rodgers did well to develop a level of comfort at Anfield in his first season and genuinely look like there was progress being made. But Liverpool can’t sit on their hands and wait to see if he can pull off a similar trick next season. League rivals will build and strengthen this summer, too. In terms of points there has been an improvement for Liverpool, yet the continued rise isn’t a guarantee.
The futures of both Luis Suarez and Pepe Reina remain up in the air and little can be done until after the Confederations Cup. But for now the club are filling their squad out and smartly dealing with what they can.
Have Liverpool found the perfect transfer strategy?
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