Joseph Kavaloski discusses Liverpool’s history of selling players and why it’s not sustainable.
Liverpool Football Club is one of European football’s most storied teams with 18 league titles, seven FA Cups and five European Cups. The Reds have a tradition second to none in England but that, unfortunately, hasn’t got the club very far in the recent past.
Superstar players from Fernando Torres and Xabi Alonso to Luis Suarez and Raheem Sterling have recently departed Liverpool in the prime of their careers. Each of these transfers has slowly caused LFC to fall into the infamous group of “selling clubs.”
This may be hard for many Liverpool fans to admit, but right now it is a reality. On the bright side, the 2016/17 season could be the end of the line for Liverpool merely being a club where talented players first make their mark before winning the big trophies elsewhere.
As a manager, Jurgen Klopp is the man in charge with returning LFC to where it belongs. Although he was unable to eliminate the selling stigma entirely from Borussia Dortmund, Klopp’s former team did not have the reputation of Liverpool.
The Reds have all the resources to compete with Barcelona, Manchester City, Real Madrid, and others at the top of European football. Now it is up to Klopp to get his team in the same competition as these giants.
Despite this only being Klopp’s first full season in charge, there is no time for another season to pass by without Champions League football. The influx of money into the Premier League has made the domestic competitions only more competitive and difficult to balance with European matches midweek. Plus, Chelsea and the resource-rich Manchester clubs have become revitalised with new managers and top quality talent.
Outside of the primary five clubs at the top of the table (Both Manchester clubs, Arsenal, Chelsea, and Liverpool), there are at least two others that are in legitimate contention for a top four place. Everton has looked exceptional at times under new manager Ronald Koeman and Spurs have an excellent manager and group of young players to excel for years to come.
That makes seven teams (without even including the reigning champions, Leicester) who have the talent to qualify for the Champions League next season. As even more money continues to flood into the coffers of England’s top division, that group of seven could soon expand to eight, nine, even ten teams. Liverpool needs to take advantage of not having any European obligations and distance themselves from the rest of the pack in the Premier League.
The only way to truly eliminate the stigma of being a “selling club” is by qualifying for Europe’s top competition. All of the best players constantly speak of wanting to compete against the best football players in the world and the only place to do this in club football is the Champions League.
In order for Liverpool to achieve the goals that the club and players have set out for themselves, a regular place in the top four is imperative. Not only will this help tremendously in player recruitment across the continent, but it will also be a major factor in keeping the best players at the club.
Having to replace a talismanic figure in the side is nearly impossible as all Liverpool fans learned after Suarez’ departure. A loss of this magnitude can set a club back years in its development, not to mention eliminating the club from realistically competing for a top four place in Europe’s most competitive league in the short term.
Currently, the Reds sit in third place, though level on points with Manchester City and Arsenal in first. Liverpool’s incredible attacking nous has taken the league by storm and has led many to predict a potential title challenge, however, this will all be for naught if the club does not finish in the top four.
On the negative side of this success, with every great Liverpool performance, the rumours surrounding Philippe Coutinho only intensify. The little Brazilian has established himself as one of the best Brazilian players in the world. Each scintillating performance on Merseyside will only increase the rumours around a potential move to Barcelona.
Keeping a South American from Barcelona may be hopeless in the long term, but the Reds will certainly give themselves no chance in transfer discussions if they do not bring the Champions League back to Anfield. Coutinho wants to win trophies and that is basically a guarantee at Camp Nou. Klopp’s biggest task over the next six months is to prove to Coutinho that he can accomplish just as much on Merseyside as he can in Barcelona.
Keeping Coutinho in a red shirt for at least the short term would be a major accomplishment. It would eliminate Liverpool’s brand as a selling club while almost ensuring that the team earns a top four place more than just once. The result would be short term success and long term sustainability—the ultimate goal of any football club.