Are Liverpool playing a clever transfer game?

Blackpool Captain Charlie AdamBlackpool have surprised football fans and pundits all over the country with the way which they have played football this season. Blackpool’s season, in which they’ve been no lower than 15th, has been driven in no small part by their talismanic midfielder Charlie Adam who turned in another Man of the Match performance against Manchester United the other night.

Unsurprisingly, Adam has attracted the attention of some of the Premier League’s top sides and it now appears that a move to Liverpool could be on the cards before the end of the window. Adam has since handed in a transfer request, but have Liverpool purposely unsettled the player?

Adam has had issues with the Blackpool board from as early as October when he received £20,000 through an arbitration committee following a dispute over bonus payments. There was a fear that the case could have been deemed a breach of contract which would have allowed Adam to leave for free in January, however the Premier League ruled that this was not the case. Nevertheless it appears that Adam could deal Blackpool a severe blow if he decides to leave Bloomfield Road in favour of Anfield, despite saying that he was committed to the club.

There is no question that Liverpool have been savvy regarding the way that they have done business. Liverpool obviously want to pay as little as they can and Adam has never made any point of hiding the fact that he wants to play football at the highest level. So it seems as though the Red have played their ‘big club’ card in trying to lure the player to Anfield.

It is likely that Liverpool never expected their bid of £4 million to be accepted by Blackpool, but it has done something far more important than that – days after Liverpool were rumoured to be interested, Adam handed in a transfer request. Now that Liverpool know the player wants to leave, it is suddenly they who have the upper-hand and know that it is unlikely they will have to pay anything near the £14 million that has been mentioned in the media today.

Blackpool are making all of the right noises about the deal and Ian Holloway is being his usual, outspoken self:

“A bid of £4m is not acceptable. Liverpool should have started with at least four times that offer. Put a one in front of it and it might be realistic. Damien Comolli rang my chairman, faffing about. Put up or shut up, it’s as simple as that. If they don’t make the right offer, my chairman will dig his heels in and I’ll have one very unhappy player on my hands. He could quite literally keep him for 18 months. He is the most pig-headed, stubborn bloke I have met in my life. If Darren Bent is £24m, the game has gone mad. Why should we say, ‘You can have our captain, go on take him. Oh, he has thrown his toys out of the pram. You can have him. Thanks a lot Liverpool’”.

However Holloway must know that, despite what he says here, it is the players who have all of the power when it comes to transfers. If Liverpool maintain their interest for the next few days and increase their offer each time then Blackpool will increasingly find it harder to turn the money away – especially knowing that the nearer Adam gets to the end of his contract the less money they will be able to demand for his services.

Blackpool may have the stubbornness, but they don’t have the financial clout to hang on to Adam if Liverpool’s interest continues. £4million pounds for a player of Adam’s caliber and age (he’s only 25), wasn’t so much an offer from Liverpool as it was a statement of intent. The only hope for the Tangerines is that Liverpool’s interest has come at the back end of the window so there is little time remaining for a deal to go through. What Liverpool have done isn’t illegal by any means, nor is it really frowned upon, it is just the way that the big clubs know that they can do business nowadays.

Either way, it doesn’t seem like the speculation is doing any harm to Adam’s form, he boasts one goal and two assists in his last two games. Blackpool will be thrilled if they can hold on to him until the summer – their survival could depend on it.