Liverpool promised their fans a statement summer all the way back at the start of it. The club promised a net spend well in excess of £100M, key reinforcements, and the kind of recruitment that would ensure their top four survival and give them legitimate title credentials.
For a while, it looked like they might even fully deliver on that promise. Then, the stumbles. The Van Dijk apology. The failure to land Naby Keïta. The seeming refusal to turn to any Plan B targets. Barcelona lurching towards Philippe Coutinho and that player’s heel turn.
But then, somewhat unexpectedly, came recovery. Coutinho would stay. Keïta was signed—albeit for next year. The club were still working on Virgil van Dijk and now were after Thomas Lemar as well. There were, again, promises. Promises of a statement summer and a deadline day spend eclipsing £175M.
Now, it appears those promises will in the final tally come to naught. The original promises and the later ones. Coutinho will stay and Keïta will join next summer and both of those are commendable achievements. Mohamed Salah signing is worth celebrating, too.
But if things end the way they now look set to—the way club-connected journalists like The Liverpool Echo’s James Pearce say they are almost certainly going to—there isn’t a great deal positive to say about it beyond that Liverpool will have had an alright summer.
Not terrible or disastrous, but certainly not one that measures up to expectation. Certainly not the one that was promised. The club needed to sign Virgil van Dijk to go from alright to great. Van Dijk along with Salah and Oxlade-Chamberlain and keeping Coutinho would be a great summer.
Adding Lemar to the mix would have stood it as the club’s greatest ever recruitment drive—a statement of intent that would have made Liverpool solid title favourites this season. Without them, the window won’t have been a disaster, but it won’t be what fans were promised.
That’s inevitably disappointing, and no talk of Naby Keïta arriving next summer or Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s valuable versatility can really overcome that. Not entirely. Not when the fans were promised a summer that would once and for all put Liverpool back on their perch.