The balancing of short term results and long term progression is the subject of another article I have written today on whether a new stadium or greater transfer funds should be the priority. This article centres very much on the short term consequences of a lack of new investment in Liverpool football club. It was not long ago that it was rumoured that Rafa Benitez had somewhere in the region of £12million to spend in the January transfer window, it was thought that the American owners would at least give this amount for him to spend to get Liverpool out of their current predicament. It came as no surprise though that an article in the Guardian has revealed that Benitez will have to sell before he buys in January.
As Managing Director Christian Purslow talked after signing a bumper sponsorship deal with Standard Chartered Bank, he expressed that once the sponsorship came into effect in the summer:
One of our key [income] lines, the revenue line, will be substantially increased . . . so a normal ratio of that will go to the wage bill and my ability to support Rafa in the transfer market will be hugely enhanced.
This was effectively a promise for funds in the summer rather than any significant investment in January. It appears then that Benitez will have to scrape the barrel for any purchases. The most likely sales are those of Andrey Voronin, Andrea Dossena, Philipp Degen and Ryan Babel, but many teams are reluctant to buy players in January and it may be difficult to offload them. Rumours are rife however about their destinations. Voronin has been a massive flop since his free transfer from Bayer Leverkusen a couple of years ago, but a successful loan spell at Hertha Berlin last season has attracted the interest of some Bundesliga clubs. Left back Dossena looks also set to leave Anfield, and despite starting against Portsmouth, he will most likely return to Italy in the transfer window. Ryan Babel seems to be the most saleable asset but it will be difficult for Benitez to recoup the amount spent on him, as well as Dossena, meaning the Spaniard’s coffers will not be significantly increased by their sales.
It looks likely then, that Rafa will have to rely on loans and cheap transfers to revitalise a squad which is very low on confidence. A shake up in January is no doubt needed, but it is crucial to get the right players in the right positions. A back-up to Fernando Torres must be the priority and a player on loan such as Ruud van Nistelrooy maybe the ideal choice. Other priority areas are left back, and a winger to ensure there is more creativity which was so plainly lacking against Portsmouth at the weekend, but such players don’t come cheap and Benitez will need to be as expert as Harry Redknapp and Sam Allardyce at wheeler-dealing.
The really strange fact about all this though is if the Americans don’t invest in the short term, they might just damage the club in the long term. If Liverpool do fail to qualify for the Champions League this season, there will be massive consequences for the club financially and any new investment into the playing staff next summer will have to be diverted to fill the big hole in the finances which the lack of top-tier European football would leave. As we are now in danger of losing that fourth place, wouldn’t it be more financially beneficial for the American owners to invest now, rather than waiting for a time when the Reds have no Champions League football? Such an outcome would not only leave the club without the money to invest in top stars but also leave Liverpool unable to attract players of the right calibre to move the club forward.