Part 3: Rating 2018-19’s Transfer Business
Not every transfer is a success, but Liverpool’s business last summer looks awfully good in retrospect. A year after the fact, though, we still wanted to know how TLO’s writers felt about the business the club did ahead of this past season—and whether there was anything related to that business that didn’t turn out quite like they were expecting or anything they think the club should have done differently in retrospect.
I love it. My goodness. Michael Edwards, Klopp, and the whole crew behind transfers just continues to absolutely amaze.
Part of it, of course, is due to being a club that has done well to leverage its financial resources, righted the mistakes of Hicks and Gillett, and married that improved financial stability and power with results on the pitch. We no longer have to go bargain hunting simply because that’s the best we can hope for. And we can feel confident that if we’re linked to someone who doesn’t make sense, 99% of the time because the agent is trying to get his client a better deal or a selling club is trying create a bidding war and that either way Liverpool aren’t actually at risk of buying said someone. That’s an underrated aspect to our improvement on the transfer front, and that means that these are great times in terms of not developing ulcers come transfer season.
But the biggest improvement is that the quality of our recruitment has been so, so good. Alisson Becker and Fabinho have all come inon and been stellar. Naby Keita looked to have finally found his legs after a bit of a rough start to is time in red. Things are as good on this front as they’ve ever been.
Factor in that Champions League Trophy and we’ve crossed the line into being a true destination for players to come, so I’m excited at who the transfer team might unearth next. And while I know our perfect record will have to drop at some point, I’m still confident that even then the player recruited who doesn’t quite live up to expectations will at least provide something to the squad.
This is me basically saying that I am so glad we no longer have to worry about signing the likes of Charlie Adam and Stewart Downing ever again.
I still think the team lacks a Coutinho replacement and that not bringing in that sort of a player was a miss last summer. However, I don’t mean to say that that missing player is or should literally be the same type of player Coutinho was. What I mean by replacement is someone who can deputize in the front three when needed or join them all on the pitch in support.
We saw when Firmino went down injured what it did to the team’s ability to function. I think if we can find a player that can play on the left really well, that frees up Mane or Salah to play in the middle, and that this could be the best way for us to mitigate any potential for a looming injury disaster.
P.s.: I still miss u, Fekir :(
We got £14 million for Danny Ward! And then £40m for Solanke and Ings! Young Money Mike is a genius!
Really, though, it’s tough to find nits to pick. My faith in Naby Keïta is unwavering despite an injury-riddled season, and Xherdan Shaqiri was a fine budget solution to the Fekir failure, who’s come up big on a couple of massive occasions. Alongside the already acquired Van Dijk, Alisson and Fabinho were at the centre of our incredible defensive performances this season, and nobody would argue now that we overpaid for either.
Honestly, given realistic budgetary constraints, I don’t see how that transfer window could have worked out much better. I also have utter faith in the club’s ability to replicate that sort of success with whoever they might move for this summer.
Look, so, Liverpool don’t win the Champions League without Alisson. That’s just facts. Meanwhile, Fabinho looks on the verge of world class, the holding midfielder we haven’t had since Lucas blew out his ACL. Those were the big two last summer. Throw in Xherdan Shaqiri being useful and it’s hard to say anything bad about it, especially with how things ended up.
Still, it would have been nice to get a little more forward depth in—Roberto Firmino’s injury late in the season really hammered home just how thin the club were at some positions and how much a player like Nabil Fekir able to play that false nine role could have helped, both late in the season and during that bothersome winter lull. It’s hard to fault the deals that got done, but as well as the season went, it’s hard not to feel a little like they were still one or two deals short of perfection—but that’s what this summer is for, hopefully.
The argument could be made that one or two more players should have been brought in, but it’s nearly impossible to fault the business that they did get done. Every player they signed last summer did exactly what they were supposed to do for the team. I’m really, really interested in seeing what they do this summer to strengthen the team.
Last summer was about signing a world-class goalkeeper, and we did that. And after that Champions League final, it’s hard to feel anything but positivity about the transfer business the club did. Honestly, it’s hard to feel anything but positivity about anything related to the team right now. Maybe we should have done this before the euphoria of the final kicked in.
Ninety-seven points and Champions of Europe. You cannot realistically ask for more.
That said, I totally get the calls for more attacking depth. But at the same time, our transfer strategy has been so successful under Klopp—consistently landing the right players in the most pressing areas of need—that it’s hard to fault this team if the right move wasn’t on last summer. Instead, we just have to keep going and get it boxed off this summer, and I trust this recruitment team to do exactly that.