It’s fair to say Liverpool’s signing of Andrew Robertson from Hull City hasn’t exactly set the football community alight.
Having been linked with the likes of Virgil van Dijk and Naby Keita for eye-watering fees already, the arrival of an £8m left-back from the Championship doesn’t seem enough to set the heart rate going.
The lack of enthusiasm seems ironic considering how many people were screaming that Liverpool needed a left-back this time last summer. Perhaps it is a testament to how well the versatile James Milner has adapted to the role, or perhaps it’s because fans wanted to see a bigger name – Ryan Bertrand being one of a few that spring to mind.
There seems to be a mentality – perhaps as a result of the monopoly the big spenders at the top (namely Manchester City, Chelsea and historically Manchester United) have at the top of the league – that clubs need to sign established and well-known stars to have any chance of glory.
This isn’t always the case, however. History shows it’s much more important to spread the wealth and quality to build a side that can truly challenge for the title. Take Chelsea last year as an example; while they had stars like Eden Hazard and Diego Costa to provide the goals, most people put their title victory down to N’Golo Kante.
I’m not for a minute suggesting that Kante was not regarded as one of the league’s if not the world’s top midfielders after his title success at Leicester, but his importance to the side came not just from adding quality in the middle of the park, but also adding dynamism and power where the previous partnership of Nemanja Matic and Cesc Fabregas had been lacking.
Similarly with Marcus Alonso and David Luiz (incidentally two signings that were met with indifference and, for the latter, confusion), it was less about adding quality and more about bringing weak areas up to scratch. Chelsea’s only left-sided defender at that point was Baba Rahman, meaning Cesar Azpilicueta was required to fill in.
What Jurgen Klopp has done is not only mirrored that by bringing in a natural left-footed full-back (arguably freeing Milner up to play elsewhere), but also plugged a gap that sorely needed plugging and raised the overall quality of the squad rather than the individual.
It’s fitting to see Klopp – who succeeded so well at Dortmund through team-spirit, work-rate and improving lesser-known talents like Mario Gotze, Matts Hummels and Marco Res – would take this approach rather than blowing an inflated fee on a bigger name.
Having star players will only get you so far; something Liverpool fans will remember too well.
In the 2013/14 season they had the undisputed best player in the Premier League as Luis Suarez managed 31 goals and 12 assists in 33 games – head and shoulders above anyone else.
But having Suarez wasn’t quite enough as in the end, Liverpool’s title failings came down to a defence with Glen Johnson, Jon Flanagan and a regularly injured Daniel Agger.
Those were gaps that needed filling. Talent only gets you so far when the rest of the squad is lacking.
If people need reminding what hard work and having a player in every position gets you, they need only look at Leicester’s title-winning campaign. Danny Simpson and Marc Albrighton were unglamorous names but could hardly be called a weak link after performing admirably for the entire campaign.
While Leicester’s feat won’t be repeated for quite some time, a side that has eleven men aware of their roles and with an incredible team spirit can be replicated – and having stars like Sadio Mane or Phillipe Coutinho doesn’t hurt either.
Perhaps that is what football fans should be more excited about.