It was never expected that Liverpool would make a splash in the January transfer window, despite what the tabloids would have you believe. Klopp and FSG seemed content to make it through the rest of the season with the team they had put together over the summer.
Even the biggest business in the window — Sakho’s move to London to join Crystal Palace — was a loan instead of an outright sale. A move for the French defender was in the cards since July when he was sent home from the team’s US tour. And while it was bemusing that it took until deadline day to get it done, the only thing of note was the fact that it was a loan move after Palace was unwilling to meet Liverpool’s asking price.
The other story coming out of deadline day is that Sergio Canos, who the Reds sold to Norwich City last summer, is on the move again, this time to Brentford. Thanks to Liverpool’s 30% sell-on fee, that’s another £750k in the kitty for the summer.
While the club gave the winter transfer window a pass, they also began to stagnate on the pitch, putting their lack of business in stark relief. 2017 has not started well for the Reds, and in the first month alone, they’ve lost in the EFL Cup semi-final to Southampton and were then promptly kicked out of the FA Cup by Championship side Wolves.
Their luck in the league has been equally dire. Hope for a title challenge is gone, and the best they can achieve now is a place in the top four. That would be no small feat, of course, especially considering the competition. And despite a strong first half of the season, the Reds find themselves barely clinging to that fourth spot.
Would some reinforcements in this transfer window have helped? It’s impossible to say, and the winter window is known to be a fickle and tricky one, with limited talent available at over-the-top prices. And while some of FSG’s best transfer business has been done in January — Luis Suarez, Philippe Coutinho, and Daniel Sturridge spring to mind — they seem to view this window as one for emergencies only.
When Suarez arrived, it was because Torres was leaving. When Sturridge and Coutinho came to Anfield two winters later, it was because the club had failed to secure any attackers and had floundered through the first half of that season without a single useful forward on the books. Without an immediate need, the owners don’t appear interested, as evident by the very little movement in or out of Anfield in the four winter windows that have passed since they acquired Coutinho and Sturridge.
Sadio Mané’s return, unharmed, from the African Cup of Nations will certainly be a boon for the team in the final push into spring. His absence was keenly felt in a way that should be worrying for a team that seemed, in the autumn, to be full of so many individual game-changers.
It’s hard to know which, if any, players were near-misses or could-have-beens in this window, but Klopp and his team continue to look forward.