No club goes in to a transfer window without at least some form of a plan of attack. An idea of what positions they want to target, some players for those positions, and, most importantly, a transfer budget they're willing to spend. With that in hand, they go about their business and work towards achieving their goals to reinforce the squad.
With that in mind, let's wrap up this series with a bang. Instead of doing a "One Transfer To Rule Them All" post like I was planning on (no, it wasn't Juan Mata), let's instead look back at the players covered and come up with a plan of our own. Each part of the planning process will be laid out in detail: the budget, the positions to look at, and the players to target.
This requires some careful research and thought to get a feel for what Liverpool's budget would be. First, let's look back over the last few seasons to see what kind of transfer spending there was. For the purpose of this exercise, we'll go as far back as the first season of FSG's reign, the 2010/11 season. While a three-year sample isn't strictly the most useful from a statistical standpoint, it also doesn't make a lot of sense to include the spending patterns of previous ownership.
In that first season, Liverpool spent a total of £85.8 million*, while selling players for a total of £88.4 million. Those numbers include a lot of activity by the previous ownership; in the winter, FSG's first transfer window, the club spent £59.4 million and received £57.6 million from sales. That was the window that saw the arrival of Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll, along with the departures were Fernando Torres and Ryan Babel.
Moving on, 2011/12 saw a total transfer outlay of £58.5 million, with players going to other clubs bringing in £20.2 million. The winter window was dull, with just £1.1 million and no money moving the other way. 2012/13 saw a total of £55.8 million spent, £22 million of which was spent in January, on Daniel Sturridge and Phillipe Coutinho. A mere £8.1 million was brought in by sales, all from the summer window.
This past summer, Liverpool's transfer business saw £48.3 million spent and £27.1 million come back in to the coffers. The total expenditure is creeping close to the maximum that FSG has put out in a given year, which just looking at that would suggest that there's maybe £10 million to spend. However, the net spend once player sales are taken in to account has averaged just south of £20 million per window. Given that Liverpool is in a better league position than they've been in going in to the January window under FSG's reign, let's assume for the sake of argument that they'll be willing to kick in an extra but of cash and say that the net spend will be £25 million.
That's not a lot of money to work with all of the club's needs, but luckily that's net spend, and player sales can be involved to flesh out the coffer a bit. There are a couple of potential departures that could be lined up, but it's unlikely that a significant addition can be expected from that arena.
*All transfer expenditure numbers are from Transfermarkt, and do not include any loan fees paid or received.
Here's where we really start to dig in to the theoretical stuff. As far as potential transfers out to pad the budget a bit and make it easier to fit all three players (plus potentially more depending on how things shake out), there's a couple potential moves that could be made. Iago Aspas has been repeatedly linked with a move away due to his lack of playing time at Anfield. Both loans and full transfers have been mooted, mostly back home to Spain with a couple of vague links to Italy. Let's say that such a move does happen, and that (somewhat optimistically) Liverpool receive half of their initial investment back, so add another £4 million to the coffer. This also would mean bumping up a striker on the priority list.
There's also a couple of players in the reserves who seem surplus to requirements. Michael Ngoo disappointed greatly during his loan spell with Yeovil Town earlier this season, and hasn't exactly set the world afire with the reserves since his return. Kristoffer Peterson is just wrapping up a loan with Tranmere Rovers, but has never really wowed anyone and doesn't seem to have a future at the Premier League level. This would be as good a time as any to cash in on him should the opportunity present itself.
Finally, Joao Carlos Teixera has caught the imagination of many a Liverpool fan and has done well with the reserves when healthy, but has been utterly uninvolved with the first team this season, even during times of midfield crisis. This is just a hunch, but that doesn't make it seem like the Portuguese midfielder has much of a future with Liverpool. He's still young enough and considered good enough in some circles that he should draw at least some offers, especially in Portugal. In all likelihood, selling all three of these youngsters would net Liverpool somewhere around £1 million pounds. That brings the transfer kitty to a nice round £30 million.
There are three priorities that Liverpool needs to address: a fullback (preferably a left back, but a right back wouldn't hurt either), a holding midfielder to back up Lucas Leiva, and a winger to help strengthen the attack. If somehow there's money left in the budget, a striker to replace Aspas would be the next move to make. Another central mid with some creative spark could be of use as well, but the odds of money being left over is very low unless Liverpool get fortunate with sales.
To plan out how to use the budget, the first priority and biggest chunk of the funds would go to the winger. It's a traditionally more expensive position, and will account for at least half of the projected transfer budget. Let's assume that the fullback and holding mid would each account for half of the remainder.
To keep things nice and consistent, we'll be keeping things limited to players mentioned during the Twelve Days Of Transfermas. A handy-dandy link has been provided above if you need to catch up or review who's been talked about. Unfortunately, the budget limitations mean that most of the upper-crust talent listed is out of reach, though there's still plenty in there to choose from, with 77 players having been detailed or mentioned over the course of the series.
First off, the winger. After going through the lists, two names that seem likely to fit both needs and the available budget float to the top: Jeremy Menez and Florian Thauvin. While Thauvin would be a very exciting purchase and looks to have a bright future ahead of him, Menez seems the more likely of the two to be available next month. Menez would also likely have a larger impact this season, which is an important consideration given Liverpool's current league position and upcoming struggle to finish in a Champions League place. Given the tenuous position in Paris Saint-Germain's squad hierarchy that Menez currently has and the likelihood that they'll add another attacking midfielder, a sum of £15 million should be enough to secure his services.
Moving to the midfield, one name comes to mind in light of the budget constraints: Youssuf Mulumbu. The West Brom midfielder is a tenacious customer, and would be the perfect backup for Lucas, and on Lucas' current form could even push for more significant minutes as well. Given West Brom's precarious slide down the table and need for reinforcements elsewhere in the squad, Mulumbu would likely be available for approximately £8 million, leaving £7 million still in play to use.
At fullback, while left back was mentioned earlier, the ultimate name settled on for this exercise was Celtic right back Adam Matthews. Glen Johnson is in dire need of a proper backup, and it's appearing more and more likely that Martin Kelly is no longer capable of providing those services. Matthews comes in with over 100 first-team appearances for Scotland's most famous club, 40 of which have come in the Champions League, where he's generally acquitted himself quite well. He can also play left back fairly capably, so would be able to provide extra value for Liverpool. Given Celtic's near-constant need for additional finances and Matthews's status a good long-term prospect but not one of the premier names for the future, an offer of £5 million should be more than sufficient to bring the Welshman to Anfield.
That leaves us with £2 million to play with for our little scenario. After careful consideration, that money is going towards the striker position and American international Terrence Boyd. He's been in immense form with Austrian side Rapid Wien, and while they'd be loathe to lose him, they also couldn't refuse such a strong offer, especially in light of them dropping from the Europa League and losing out on any additional prize money. It's unlikely that Boyd will ever be a star at this level, but he has all the makings of an excellent backup at the top of your formation, and would be an acceptable option to start as needed. Another potential option would be to recall Fabio Borini from him loan at Sunderland, which would probably require returning at least half of the loan fee the Wearside club paid.
Bringing in a group of players like Jeremy Menez, Youssuf Mulumbu, Adam Matthews, and Terrence Boyd would make for excellent business in the transfer window. What would you do differently? Given the scenario lined up above, who would you bring in to reinforce the Liverpool squad?