It was an eventful January for some football clubs. A month that usually passes by with mostly mid-season loan moves for fringe players and maybe one or two high-profile transfers between a couple of big boys has seen quite a few star-studded deals.
Alexi Sanchez went to Manchester United, forever knocking the shine off of those halcyon days when all we cared about was how much thigh he wanted to show at the World Cup. Olivier Giroud also left Arsenal, signing for Chelsea, who let Michy Batshuayi leave for Borussia Dortmund so that Pierre Emerick Aubameyang could complete the circle and sign for Arsenal.
Tottenham brought in Lucas Moura, Henrik Mkhitaryan switched United for Arsenal and I’m sure a bunch of other stuff happened with other clubs both today and throughout the January window but I don’t really care. I’m sure all the decisions were smart ones and all the players who made moves will be amazing in their new teams. But we’re not feeling too congratulatory right now, are we?
Because it was another odd January window for Liverpool. Another January window that has left Liverpool supporters wondering what just happened. The club sold Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona. That was unfortunate given that Coutinho is really good. Coutinho made things happen on the pitch for Liverpool. Passes, goals, dances with Roberto Firmino. All very good. But now, all very gone to Spain. That was the bad.
The good arrived with a six foot four inch, 203 pound Dutch defender from Southampton. Virgil Van Dijk finally signed for Liverpool after a transfer saga that started last summer when Southampton dug their heels in and wouldn’t deal with Liverpool. It was a lot of fun.
But since Van Dijk’s arrival Liverpool supporters have been hoping that the club wouldn’t stop with just the one player this month. When would the Coutinho replacement arrive? Why weren’t Naby Keita and Thomas Lemar allowed to board a plane together and travel to Liverpool to start their new lives?
The money looked to be available for Jürgen Klopp to make these moves but the negotiations didn’t advance for either player. Keita is set to come to Liverpool in the summer and RB Leipzig were not interested in letting him go early. And Monaco reportedly slapped a £90million price tag on Lemar in order to let him head to England this month.
The failures to bring in Keita or Lemar are understandable though. There was no real impetus for either Leipzig or Monaco to sell those players this month. The real issue that seems unforgivable right now is that Coutinho was allowed to leave at all if there wasn’t going to be someone coming in to fill the void. Not even a replacement for Coutinho’s skills, but at least an attacking player of similar caliber to keep the squad strong for the second half of the season.
And now that Daniel Sturridge has gone on loan to West Bromwich Albion Liverpool are down another attacking player.
Klopp may be proven right come the season’s end. Liverpool may end up in the top four come May and they could still have a respectable run in the Champions League this season but it all feels extremely risky for a club that cannot afford to drop out of the race at the tip of the Premier League table.
It’s true that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain could prove himself as a first choice starter. And it’s not unthinkable that Danny Ings and Dominic Solanke could blossom over the next month to be genuine goal-scorers off the bench. But it could be a tense ride from here on while we wait for the team to adjust to the January shake-up it’s just been through. Hang on, folks.