After being told by club-connected journalists that they could expect Liverpool to spend big in the transfer window this summer, likely in excess of £100M and perhaps even reaching a £200M spend mark, new club CEO Peter Moore is pumping the brakes on any big money expectations the fans might have.
The incoming executive says the club will spend, certainly, but it won’t be about trying to match what the likes of Manchester City do just so that they can point to the number and say they’ve done their job. It will instead be about finding value; it will be about spending smarter than their rivals for the top four.
“What I have learned over the years is that it is not how much you pay bit what you get,” Moore told The Independent following his official instalment in his new role at Anfield. “So you have a kid called Philippe Coutinho playing out there who cost £8M and you have other guys who cost four or five times that.
“Maybe I’m naive, but I’m not looking at my competitors’ spending and deciding that I need to spend the same regardless of the quality of the players. I trust Michael Edwards implicitly to do a value proposition of a particular player and say, based on the data we have and the comparables we have, this is what we go for.”
On paper it’s a difficult point to argue against, though in the increasingly inflated world of English football where transfer fees and wages are being fuelled by rising television contracts and growing revenue streams, what a player is worth can be a very difficult thing to nail down with any precision.
There’s also the issue of Liverpool’s rivals for the top four often seeming willing to accept that as the clubs at the top of the pile, they may need to at times pay over the odds to get a deal done quickly and get their manager’s first choice signed before another club does. It’s more auction house than store.
“The theory that because Man City spends £100M we need to spend £100M?” Moore added, touching on what has become a sore point for fans who watch the club’s competitors consistently outspend them. “Listen, we may spend £100M. Who knows. But it won’t be because they spend £100M.
“If your next-door neighbour puts £50,000 into his greenhouse and for you to keep up with comparable rates on your street, will you spend fifty-thousand quid on a greenhouse? No! You do what makes good sense for your house. I can’t think of a better analogy than the greenhouse!”
Of course, in the football world that greenhouse would be Virgil van Dijk after you’ve told your significant other that your house does need a greenhouse more than anything else and that you’re going spend £50,000 on it, on the one you really want. Then it ends up attached to your next door neighbour’s instead.
Then it’s back to the hunt, looking for another greenhouse that will work just as well—since you and the whole world know it is a greenhouse you need most of all—as the one your neighbour took out from under you, all the while hoping one of your other four richer neighbours doesn’t pip that next one, too.