Liverpool’s signing of Philippe Coutinho might not be enough to put the wind in the sails and secure a top four finish for this season, but it is a massive swing in the right direction.
Is it just by chance that the Brazilian midfielder was within the age bracket Liverpool are targeting and happened to be available this past January? Surely the club deserve some credit for taking advantage when Inter Milan decided to part company with the talented youngster, viewing him as an important cog to set the wheels turning once again.
The reports ahead of this summer are that Liverpool want to hand Brendan Rodgers £20 million to strengthen the squad. You have to wonder if the club are being realistic here in thinking that £20 million can be stretched far enough to turn Liverpool into a legitimate top four squad. On the other hand, maybe the club have an overwhelming sense of confidence in the manager and their scouting system that a figure like that can indeed be seen as something of a ‘war chest.’
If Liverpool are smart they can turn that £20 million into two or three undeniably excellent acquisitions. It’s not beyond the boundaries of possibility. After all, there are clubs scattered around Europe who are in desperate need to offload their star names, many of which are in a financial situation where they are unable to demand inflated transfer fees.
Daniel Sturridge’s signing is something that Liverpool can’t look to replicate this summer. Not because the former Chelsea forward is a bad player, but because he is another who represents the vast sums of money that is spent on English talent. Ok, so maybe £12 million isn’t the mind-numbing figure that has been spent on players like Stewart Downing and Andy Carroll, but Sturridge isn’t one of the very best in his age group, whereas the continent does boast some of the finest young talents who can be had for a similar price.
The hope for Liverpool is that they’ll be able to augment that £20 million figure into something a little more substantial via the sale of players. The problem, however, is that clubs are not exactly queuing up to take fringe players away from Anfield. How much of a loss will be had on players bought in under Kenny Dalglish?
But that aside, turning this club into a top four side is well within reason, provided Liverpool are prepared to dig a little deeper into the talent pool of world football and not restrict themselves to just the Premier League.
There have been suggestions that Ashley Williams could come into to add depth to the back line. There’s no taking away from the impressive performances of the Swansea captain, but the League Cup winners are unlikely to come quietly if Liverpool make that call.
Incidentally, it should be the model Swansea have adopted that Liverpool should look to use, if only for this summer on one or two signings.
Michu and Pablo Hernandez came in for very little and have adapted well to Michael Laudrup’s side. People continue to be amazed at how well Michu is doing in England considering his extremely low transfer fee. But the former Rayo midfielder isn’t one in a million, especially for those who know the Spanish league well.
Yes there are clubs who continue to distort the transfer market by speeding up the process of transforming themselves from onlookers on the side lines to the stars of the show. Yet clubs like Dortmund, Ajax and many others have found ways to circumvent the reckless spending of some. Liverpool are along the right lines of looking to youth, as Dortmund’s squad is a fine example of what can be had by waiting patiently for youngsters to be unearthed as some of the diamonds of the European game.
Liverpool should be well equipped to strengthen their squad this summer, as even with a budget of around £100 million, the only thing the club can currently show for it is the signing of Luis Suarez.
It will be about playing the transfer game wisely and not jumping on the names who are well-known to English audiences. Sturridge and Coutinho are steps in the right direction, but there are plenty of reasons to pursue European-based talents who make £20 million seem a lot more than it is in England.
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