It was a largely disappointing transfer window for Liverpool in terms of incomings, but one missed transfer target may frustrate the club’s manager and supporters more than most.
Following the departure of Gini Wijnaldum at the start of the summer, the Reds were largely expected to strengthen their engine room.
Several star names were heavily linked with a move to Anfield as a result, yet Spain international Saul Niguez is the one that kept consistently cropping up as a realistic target for the cash-strapped Merseysiders.
However, after lengthy speculation, the 26-year-old ended up moving from Atletico Madrid to Liverpool’s Premier League rivals Chelsea on an initial loan deal which contains an option to buy for just £30 million.
Liverpool’s restricted transfer budget was well documented throughout the recent window, but following the sales of several fringe players, it was hoped that the club’s hierarchy would add to the purchase of Ibrahima Konate.
The former RB Leipzig centre-back remained the 19-times English champions’ only acquisition, though, despite their domestic foes spending substantial sums of money on top-class talent.
Although many Liverpool’s fans are understanding that the club’s structure under owners FSG means they can’t compete when players such as Jadon Sancho and Jack Grealish become available, there is significantly less sympathy when affordable stars such as Saul are passed up on.
The talented technician has earned several plaudits in recent years after establishing himself as one of Europe’s top engine room operators, including Rio Ferdinand.
“What a player. I’ve been harping on about Saul Niguez for a few years now. I think he’s a major player. He’s composed, calm, great left foot, lovely conductor, he can score goals, tactically he’s very aware,” said the former Manchester United defender.
“You can see (Diego) Simeone, he gets his teams really well set up, and he’s in the middle orchestrating and dictating things.”
And, after bagging 43 goals and providing 20 assists in 340 appearances for his boyhood club, it’s easy to understand why Saul is held in such high esteem by experts such as Ferdinand.
Therefore, a large section of Liverpool’s fanbase will surely be gutted that FSG haven’t backed Klopp by putting their hand in their pocket and replacing the influential Wijnaldum in the middle of the park.
How badly the Dutchman’s lack of external successor affects Liverpool this season remains to be seen, but watching an ideal candidate for that role succeed at Stamford Bridge will make it a bitter pill to swallow either way.