Liverpool’s transfer policy has undergone a radical and noticeable shift since Kenny Dalglish, aided with the help of Director of Football Damien Comolli, came back to the club and there has been a deliberate attempt to snare the best of British in and around the top flight. But, with a huge premium put on British talent possibly more than ever before, is pursuing players based solely on the nature of their passports a financially viable and rewarding policy? Furthermore, could Liverpool’s change of tack be said to be anything other then reckless considering the considerable rebuilding job needed at the club at this point in time?
Of course, pursuing British talent is always an admirable aim to aspire towards; a British spine to a side, in my eyes at least, is always preferable, but not when it comes at the expense of decreased quality.
Since his emotional return to the club and the subsequent upturn in the club’s fortunes both on and off the pitch, the team spirit that Dalglish has fostered has made Anfield a good place to ply your trade once more. Liverpool are once again an attractive proposition despite the club being unable to offer European football for the foreseeable future. However, it has become almost sinful to criticise Dalglish since his return; he has become somewhat immune and beyond reproach, but with concerns to their current transfer policy, some Liverpool fans are beginning to voice their discontent at the worrying path that the club are taking – being taken to the cleaners by smaller sides for deeply average players for hugely inflated fees.
Andy Carroll and Jordan Henderson have already arrived for a combined fee of £51m – a startling amount considering that they boast just 109 Premier League and 3 international appearances between them. They both have bags of potential but there is a huge risk being taken here and an equally large burden rather unfairly being placed upon the players to step up and perform straight away, even though the transfers themselves are aimed more at the long-term.
Stewart Downing is currently being touted at £18m to move to Merseyside with the onus now placed squarely on the player to make the move happen with Liverpool thought to be unwilling to meet Aston Villa’s lofty price tag for their most consistent performer last term. Charlie Adam is expected to complete a move to the club for a fee between £8-10m by the end of the week. Are either of these players worth the fees being bandied about for them? Not on your nelly.
With news persisting that last season’s PFA Fans Player of the Year Raul Meireles may be allowed to leave the club for a fee in the region of £13m after a contractual dispute, and you seriously have to question the direction that the club are heading in.
It is worth noting that Liverpool are not the only club shifting their transfer policy. Man Utd and Man City have both done it and Arsenal are thought to be toying with the idea with their defensive acquisitions. But the quality and more importantly, the fees being mentioned are somewhat disconcerting.
Damien Comolli stated upon completing the Henderson deal: “If a player is English or British or has played in the Premier League we’ll look at that over someone who is abroad.” That is quite frankly a myopic approach that could seriously land the club in hot water in years to come. In five years time Liverpool could either be one of the top two sides in the country or the most expensively assembled collection of wasted talent to have ever graced the top flight. The margins are very thin and they are gambling with the club’s financial future both on and off the pitch.
A player’s nationality should not be the be all and end all behind a deal, especially at the extravagant prices that Liverpool are being quoted for players that are relatively unproven, particularly at the highest level. Quality on the pitch and not a passport should be the overriding factor behind any move and the salient point that you simply get more bang for your buck abroad than at home is one that’s worth remembering.
These are exciting times for Liverpool, let’s make no bones about that. Dalglish has reinvigorated the club both on and off the pitch, but whether the transfer policy that he’s currently overseeing represents both value for money and offers the club the best route forward in the immediete future remains to be seen.
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