Liverpool are set to miss out on yet another transfer target, as Real Madrid playmaker Nuri Sahin looks to have opted for a loan move to The Emirates despite Liverpool submitting a more attractive offer. It is thought Sahin’s decision was based upon wanting Champions League football, a competition Liverpool have failed to qualify for in the last three seasons.
The sad truth of the matter, is Liverpool’s failure to qualify for Europe’s elite competition, is now having a big impact on their transfer business. Brendan Rodgers is having to wheel and deal in a manner it seems only Harry Redknapp is capable of, as he attempts to build a squad capable of challenging for the top four.
The setbacks he has suffered in the transfer market prove that Liverpool is no longer viewed as the ‘dream move’ it once was for so many players. Whether it be through lack of funds or lack of Champions League football, there seems to be a fundemental problem in attracting the right calibre of players to Anfield.
Glyfi Sigurdsson became the first player to snub the Rodgers revolution, despite playing some fantastic football under the Liverpool boss at Swansea. Many Liverpool fans were furious at Sigurdsson’s decision to snub the Reds for a bigger pay packet at Tottenham, but the Icelandic midfielder claimed the move was entirely based on footballing reasons.
If you look at the statistics from the past three seasons, Tottenham have finished 4th, 5th and 4th, only missing out on Champions League football this season after Chelsea won the competition to claim their last spot. Liverpool have finished 7th, 6th and 8th in the same time period, and last year finished a massive 17 points behind Tottenham in 4th place.
Yes, the money would have been a factor in Sigurdsson’s decision, but even so you can understand his reasons for opting for a move to White Hart Lane based on Liverpool’s recent run. Liverpool fans will tell you they would never expect to see a player choose Tottenham over their famous club, but the current truth is that Tottenham have been a better side than Liverpool for the past three years.
For me, the problems began in the summer of 2009. Rafa Benitez had guided the Reds to their best ever Premier League season, which saw them narrowly pipped to the title by Manchester United. The following summer would prove crucial in determining whether they would be able to take the next step.
Benitez was not backed in the transfer market at the most crucial time of his tenure by former owners Tom Hicks and George Gillette. Alonso left for Real Madrid, a crocked Alberto Aquilani was bought in alongside Glen Johnson, Liverpool’s only major signing.
They finished 7th that season, Benitez was axed, Hodgson was bought in and the rest is history. Liverpool have been out of the top four ever since, and been underwhelmed with the transfer business done by first Hodgson, and then Kenny Dalglish.
It is a depressing thought for Liverpool fans, that only three years ago top players like Xabi Alonso, Javier Mascherano and Fernando Torres were gracing the Anfield pitch. All three have now moved on, and countless names have been drafted in on the cheap as Liverpool have looked to re-establish themselves in Europe’s elite competition. The likes of Christian Poulsen, Milan Jovanavic and Joe Cole have all arrived with huge salaries and made little to no impact during their time at Anfield.
Kenny Dalglish was given plenty of cash in a bid to get Liverpool back as quickly as possible, but was let down by the likes of Stewart Downing, Jordan Henderson and Andy Carroll. Rodgers is now paying the price with a limited transfer budget.
It has been a remarkably quick decline for Liverpool, and one Rodgers is tasked with halting. The lack of Champions League football is making this task far more difficult then he perhaps envisaged.
Sahin now looks set to join Sigurdsson on Rodgers list of failed transfer targets. Cristian Tello of Barcelona is another thought to not fancy the move to Merseyside, whereas Liverpool have failed to meet Fulhams valuation of Clint Dempsey. You would have thought a 29-year-old in the final year of his contract should not be a particularly hard deal to tie up?
Rodgers has made some decent signings with the likes of Borini and Allen bought in, but faces a tough task during the final few days of the transfer window to convince players Liverpool is still a top club, despite the lack of Champions League football. In all honesty, he is not the biggest of managerial names. Whereas before players would join Liverpool saying ‘I want to play under Benitez’ or ‘I want to play under Dalglish.’ Last season apart, Rodgers is something of an unknown quantity.
Rodgers has bought in players he already knows and worked with before, and is hoping to sell his philosophy of football to potential new signings. Whether this is enough to attract the top players remains to be seen. This transfer window has proved the lack of Champions League football is making his task all the more difficult.