Don’t look now, but here come some fresh rumblings about Liverpool’s dastardly dealings in the transfer market. This time, the noises are about Dominic Solanke (recently acquired by Liverpool from Chelsea’s system), just in time to potentially cast a shadow over the promising young player’s stellar performances at the FIFA U20 World Cup in South Korea - assuming of course that there’s any substance behind those noises.
Solanke, who was a highly touted prospect before dissatisfaction over playing time resulted in a contractual standoff, was formally acquired by Liverpool in a free transfer, though the Reds are expected to have to pay a £3 million or so tribunal fee. Now, certain outlets are suggesting that the facts to be presented at the tribunal might raise questions over the timing of Liverpool’s discussions with player. To put it mildly, Liverpool can ill afford more accusations of transfer missteps.
According to Premier League rules, clubs are permitted to speak with out-of-contract players after the third week in May. Liverpool’s announcement regarding Solanke’s agreement on personal terms was made at the end of May. However, there were reports much earlier in 2017 about a potential deal, and Solanke is rumored to have bid adieu to friends at Stamford Bridge before the end of the season. Needless to say, it’s still a bit of a stretch to say that this is evidence of prohibited conduct by Liverpool.
Given Solanke’s prominence as one for the future, it’s likely that Chelsea would have made noises much earlier and much more vociferously had there been concrete evidence of Liverpool stepping in it again. It’s more likely that there’s an effort to make the tribunal proceedings more newsworthy than they would otherwise have been, and certainly Liverpool’s botched dealings with Southampton have led to heightened interest.