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Departures Give Liverpool Room to Manoeuvre

The loss of two players past their prime at the end of lucrative contracts can make Liverpool more competitive in strengthening the squad.

Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Liverpool under FSG have been a club that has adhered to certain wage restrictions when initially signing players with scope to increase those wages upon improvements in performances on the field. Liverpool aren't going to sign a player and pay him £200,000 per week, and no matter what fans desire in finding a way to compete with wealthier domestic rivals, this is almost certain to be how the club will negotiate wages this summer.

The wage bills of Manchester United, Manchester City, and Chelsea far outstrip that of Liverpool's. Arsenal use their superior turnover to operate on an identical wages to turnover ratio (56 per cent) to the Merseyside club but pay over £20 million more in wages. Turnover matters. Although Liverpool finished sixth the league table, rank fifth in Premier League turnover, and remain fifth in wages paid in English football, there are players who are rewarded highly for their contributions.

Luis Suárez was paid £200,00 a week, an amount that any Liverpool fan or neutral would find hard to argue with in the context of salaries paid to other stars in the league, and continued to excel until his departure to Barcelona. Liverpool's three biggest signings of last summer probably earn around the same amount combined, but the loss of Suárez is still felt desperately by a side struggling for goals, consistency, and fitness from its forward line. There are, however, expired contracts that could have provided Liverpool an interesting opportunity to offer competitive contracts to incoming players.

Steven Gerrard will always be one of the greatest players to have worn the Liverpool shirt, his contribution to the club should not be underestimated nor forgotten. Unfortunately the past season confirmed that he was no longer a starting player for a team that needed one relative to the wages he is currently being paid. Gerrard earned £140,000 per week, which amounted to £7.28 million every year, wages that belong to a player who would be expected to provide inspiration in a similar manner to a player who spent his prime years at Anfield. Liverpool have added James Milner, a player of quality who cannot touch Gerrard in his prime but may complement Jordan Henderson, Emre Can, and Joe Allen to make the midfield far more effective.

The arrival of Milner means that Liverpool are still paying three players £100,000 a week or more, and his arrival is somewhat unusual for a club committed to bringing in players with relatively little mileage in their careers. Although Sturridge has been largely absent in 2014/15, those players are at and around their respective peaks--two are in their mid-twenties and one is in his late-twenties. Glen Johnson's decline goes back beyond last season even and his £90,000 per week contract (some speculate that it's even higher) was astounding for a right back who was no longer the answer at right back.

Liverpool can put that £4.68 million per annum that Johnson was on to better use and should expect an exceptionally talented defender in his prime to command two-thirds of that sort of salary. Add the salary of Brad Jones to Johnson's, and one could reasonably assume that the wage rises given to Jordan Henderson and Philippe Coutinho are covered along with the incoming Danny Ings. One can make other calculations, but the issue of value for the first-team raises its head once more.

Liverpool have reallocated wages under FSG in the Brendan Rodgers era, and maybe only the centre backs seem to be paid more than their relative importance to the club. Kolo Touré is staying on to supplement Mamadou SakhoMartin Škrtel, and Dejan Lovren even if a younger player may have been a better option as a backup option. Still, Touré's experience may prove to be valuable for Rodgers in a crucial fourth season with experienced members of the dressing room departing for new challenges. This also does not necessarily mean that Tiago Ilori or Andre Wisdom cannot be part of the squad especially considering Sakho's injury history.

Raheem Sterling is undervalued with the current contract he's on (he could have been earning a lot more for months now), and Coutinho shouldn't be earning less than Jordan Henderson. Sterling looks like he's on his way out while Coutinho seems happy with nearly doubling his salary with further increases set to come with the talent within the Brazilian international's boots. Adam Bogdan is arriving as a reserve goalkeeper with a contract that will probably be similar to Jones', and the wage bill won't have shifted too much factoring in arrivals and departures of out-of-contract stars.

New contracts given to Jordon Ibe, Jon Flanagan, and Andre Wisdom won't make a big splash. Iago Aspas has made an interesting departure from the club, Sebastián Coates is reportedly close to leaving, Fabio Borini seems to have accepted that he has no future at Anfield, and there are a host of other players including Mario Balotelli who could be set to leave this summer. Liverpool may not pay the most wages in the league, but with the players who have left the club already and are set to depart over the summer, there will be more than enough space on the wage bill to accommodate a key player or two while working within the club's budget.

There may not be a huge "transfer warchest" to secure these players, but if the right player wants to come, Liverpool should have the resources to make it happen. Time will tell whether it does.

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