One more month to go until the summer, and as Liverpool's season fizzles out, transfer time is upon us all. Your beloved already seems to be embroiled in a new saga for fans to endlessly worry and subsequently complain about, and that involves a highly-rated talent in the Eredivisie: Memphis Depay.
The PSV Eindhoven forward is one of the most wanted youngsters available in Europe after a breakthrough season where he has scored 20 league goals from 27 appearances from the left of a front three. This was quite the follow-up to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil where he became the youngest Dutchman in the tournament's history to score a goal for the Netherlands. His two goals and performances in Brazil earned him the privilege of being one of the names in three envelopes for the outstanding young technician award alongside Paul Pogba and Raphaël Varane. 32 goals in 59 appearances is impressive for a player who only turned 21 in February, and scoring six goals in nine Europa League games provides hope that he could step up to a stronger league.
Liverpool are one of the clubs who have an exceptionally strong interest in the 21-year-old. It's not rumour mongering, it's not wishful thinking (actually acquiring his services might just be), and it's certainly not the wicked whispers of ostriches in the press: Liverpool seem crazy about the boy. How crazy? It's uncertain. Liverpool most likely won't be offering Memphis Depay Daniel Sturridge wages (steady Raheem) as he'd be a young player joining a team with a certain wage structure. That's not entirely unreasonable. If it was a player at or around his peak, like Marco Reus (just a random example) then it would be wise and expected to offer a player of such quality in his mid-twenties a generous initial contract.
However, Manchester United also want Depay this summer, and that could be a problem with Louis van Gaal and Champions League football on offer next season. Manchester United could probably offer him a similar long-term contract to Luke Shaw: £100k a week for five years. Would Liverpool be sensible in offering Depay a similar sum to entice him to Anfield? After all, that would make him the second-highest earner at the club alongside Henderson with Gerrard and Johnson set to depart this summer. Liverpool could probably point to greater playing time on offer compared to Paris-Saint Germain and Manchester United under a manager with a track record of giving young players an opportunity, but it's not like Louis van Gaal is the scourge of youth. His managerial career is littered with examples of young players who were given a chance at Ajax, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, and now Manchester United. Adnan Januzaj may have found it difficult to find playing time, but many other fledglings have played far more than many predicted at the start of the season.
Liverpool were relatively swift last summer in recruiting players, but finishing second still wasn't enough to be more attractive than fourth-placed Arsenal for then-Barcelona forward Alexis Sánchez. Whether you believe that the Chilean international's reasons for selecting Arsenal instead of Liverpool, he simply didn't want what the club was offering. Be mindful of a number of underlying issues that Merseyside's finest must contend with. If agents and players undertake the most rudimentary of investigations, a few facts will emerge. Arsenal offer regular Champions League football with a history of reaching the group stages automatically or via a play-off for close to two decades and generally pay better wages. Manchester United offer this too along with a history of winning trophies in recent years, and seem determined to ensure that last season was an aberration not to be repeated. Liverpool cannot compete with Manchester United financially, but the Reds could offer two things last summer that the Red Devils couldn't: an attractive philosophy with a plan that was working and Champions League football. Then this season happened.
Liverpool's approach to transfers has been widely criticised, but last summer looked like a convincing one at the time, though fans were divided on what Mario Balotelli and Adam Lallana could bring. What Liverpool fans can agree on is that there has been a worrying tendency to fail to secure "big" transfers in the Brendan Rodgers era. Sometimes it's a case of: an owner who doesn't want to sell at the last minute, a failed attempt or two on deadline day, being beaten to a target in a strange footballing food-chain sequence of events, inspiring loyalty in players who currently have Champions League football at their current clubs, shady medical decrees, and just not being attractive packages compared to the likes of Borussia Dortmund. There's always an explanation, and while much of it appears rational, there are clubs in Europe that seem to find quality young players irrespective of whether Champions League or Europa League football is on offer.
Liverpool can achieve qualification straight into the Europa League group stages by finishing fifth, if Arsenal win the FA Cup. Finishing sixth or seventh would result in an earlier start to the season, which is even more undesirable than reading more statistics about how poor Liverpool's strikers have been this season. That would be a start along with a plan for exactly where players are going to play next season before making a serious effort to acquiring them. The expiring contracts of Steven Gerrard and Glen Johnson will be significant in providing space to offer competitive wages at the higher end of the existing structure. Johnson's departure covers the increases in wages offered to Philippe Coutinho and Jordan Henderson with some left over to shuffle over to Jordon Ibe. Steven Gerrard wages are on offer too (seriously Raheem, steady) for one who would be worthy. Though the captain's wages won't be Liverpool's opening offer of desperation/ambition, the club will have to do something different to snare Depay because PSV Eindhoven's Sporting Director is doing a good job of drawing interest in the player.
"PSG and Liverpool are indeed a step ahead of Manchester United in the race to sign Memphis. United have only informed us about their interest," Brands said in a strategic effort to further increase the potential gains for his club. "The list of interested clubs has grown in recent weeks. But Bayern Munich are not among the teams that want to sign him. It's only logical that there is a lot of movement around Memphis. He is still a young player, but is already hugely efficient. He should be proud of that. There isn't usually a lot of movement in the transfer market at this stage of the season. It's an exception that so many clubs have already shown an interest in Memphis. That only illustrates that he's on the right track."
It's believed that Depay's destination is the English Premier League, so that would give Liverpool an advantage over PSG. But with so much written about the potential move already by journalists with solid connections to the club and area, this seems to be a case where the Transfer Committee should be prepared or already making a move for target nummer zwei. Liverpool have already been reportedly ahead, behind, and ahead all in the space of a few weeks, and the season hasn't even finished yet. Brendan Rodgers even said he's a talented player! The omens are in Liverpool's favour. Clearly. lf Liverpool do manage the unlikely by securing Memphis Depay, it would be extremely surprising for Liverpool fans who have already seen the spoilers for this latest episode of another transfer saga.
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