I remember putting up a quote on the site from John Aldridge’s column in the Liverpool Echo a few weeks ago in which he named the targets the Reds should be going for this summer. In it he named Gary Cahill , Jose Enrique , Ashley Young and Charlie Adam as primary targets. Conspicuous by their absence were any players who plied their trade outside the Premier League. Again, not long after, I heard Phil Thompson on Soccer Saturday state he hoped the Reds went for players who were proven in the Premier League rather than going for players such as Eden Hazard .
I think like a lot of football fans, I have a problem with this sort of attitude for I believe Liverpool should go after players whose ability should take precedence over which nationality they come from or which league they play in. This debate has of course sprung up again in the news the Reds have bid £13million for Jordan Henderson . A good player, proven in the Premier League, and widely regarded by critics as having a bright future, the question becomes whether he is worth the money we would have to pay for him, and whether he would live up the hype given to him by the English media.
Of course you have to pay a premium for young English players, firstly because they fit into the home-grown quota system, and secondly no English club likes letting their brightest young talent go. You don’t have to look too far in the £35m paid for Andy Carroll to be aware of that fact. Still, the question becomes, could the Reds find a cheaper player abroad who is just as good, if not better?
There are people on both sides of this argument, those like Aldo and Thommo who believe British is best because they are already suited to the Premier League, while there are others who believe the English media over hypes certain players, and that we would be better off spending our money abroad on players who have no reputation in this country, but could potentially be world beaters if treated in the right way. I say I am more in the second camp, than the first, but I have said already in this article, it doesn’t matter as long as they are good enough.
Another part of the equation is of course FSG’s strategy. There is a strong desire on their part to develop young players, and to bring in talented young stars whose value will only increase in the future. In addition they have to fit in to the Liverpool Way and King Kenny may believe that bringing young English players is the best way to inculcate a sense of team spirit and togetherness he wants, along with playing a certain brand of football. Damien Comolli maybe influential in scouting players from all across Europe but he said quite clearly that he asked Kenny about the sort of player which would fit to the ethos at the club. All transfer targets, foreign or domestic, will have qualities that Kenny believes are essential to Liverpool ’s style of play.
We must of course trust in Kenny’s judgement as he knows a hell of a lot more about football than any of us does. The only question I have in my mind though is if someone like Eden Hazard , a 20 year old who has master-minded Lille’s league triumph this season is worth £20million, should we really be paying £20million on a British player who may well have a lot less potential?
We will see as the summer progresses the sort of players the Reds will be targeting and it will be interesting to see the balance between foreign and domestic transfers.
Read more of David’s articles at Live4Liverpool