Rome not built in a day, but Liverpool purge lays foundations
Over a summer transfer window where rivals such as Manchester United splurged £89m on a single player, Liverpool winding up £10m in profit may be viewed as naive, foolish even, given that money appears to grow on trees in the Premier League nowadays.
On closer inspection, that might not be the case. Having resisted the urge to make any changes in January – barring the arrangement of Joel Matip and Marko Grujic’s deferred transfers – Jurgen Klopp sensibly decided to continue reviewing the playing staff he inherited.
Astonishingly, he came agonisingly close to lifting two trophies for his troubles.
Judging by the depth of his recent Anfield clearout, it’s now abundantly clear that the German has had enough time to properly assess the hand he was dealt.
For Reds fans who have gotten used to seeing a squad saturated with mediocre £10-20m-ish purchases in recent times, the 19-man purge is probably the most pleasing thing about the business conducted, albeit five have the potential to return after securing loans.
Sadio Mane’s £34m capture would definitely be the highlight of six additions, though the obvious faux-pas is the avoidable failure to strengthen the problem left-back position.
More enjoyable than the prospect of James Milner filling in there for Liverpool followers used to being taunted for their club overpaying for said run-of-the-mill types, were a few of the fees recouped along the way.
Whichever luminary at Bournemouth signed off a £15m cheque for Jordon Ibe (not to mention £6m for Brad Smith) should be given the freedom of Liverpool, while breaking even on Anfield duds Joe Allen (£15m) and Christian Benteke (£32m) are minor coups of their own.
Without going through the entire list of departures, Lazar Markovic going back out on loan is favourable as was being paid actual pound sterling for Luis Alberto by Lazio. Finally getting Mario Balotelli shifted off the books, albeit with a notable loss incurred, brought palpable relief also.
Other than the electric Mane who has wowed from the off, the jury is still out on £25m Georgino Wijnaldum.
Even so, the Dutchman played well in the last game against Tottenham, particularly when the Geordies’ main beef with their 11-goal midfielder last season was disappearing in away games.
There was perhaps more redressing of the defence needed, albeit when Germany U21 goalkeeper Loris Karius (who was excellent in pre-season) returns from a broken hand and Joe Gomez follows suit after a long layoff, Klopp has better options.
Matip’s early showings have been promising too.
On his unveiling as Liverpool manager last October, and reiterated many times since, Klopp always said patience was required before real success arrived back at Anfield.
Judging by the ruthless fashion in which the former Borussia Dortmund chief has presided over his first real crack at a transfer window, it feels like he has at least set course in the right direction.
Odds of 14/1 to win the Premier League show that there are still deficiencies to address, but as a squad-shaping exercise, Klopp gets a solid B.
Perhaps by the end of summer 2017, he will have assembled a team capable of bringing home England’s top prize…starting with a left-back in January.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.