Jack Hallows argues that this is a summer for change at Liverpool but that we should trust in Klopp’s decision making all the way.
The summer transfer window is open.
It’s exciting, isn’t it? Going into a summer transfer window knowing that we’d be willing to part with ridiculous sums of money such as £60m for van Dijk and £70m for Naby Keïta in order to convince their current clubs to sell.
While the £36.9m paid for Mohamed Salah last week pales in comparison to the aforementioned figures, it’s still – for now – a club record signing.
Liverpool genuinely mean business this summer and they have the financial backing to give Jürgen Klopp, Michael Edwards and the rest of the ‘committee’ the best chance to get it done.
However, that doesn’t mean that the Reds have to go into every transfer window from now on and do the exact same.
The need to spend big money
There’s a difference between accepting that you need to spend big money on players and simply just wanting to do it because you can.
FSG have been shrewd in previous transfer windows, bringing in, for the most part, decent quality players with the potential to be developed further for sums of £15-30m.
However, regardless of the opinion you hold of our American owners, they know that this window has to represent a change in the pattern.
There is a necessity for Liverpool Football Club to take the next step and quite literally “go big, or go home,” in order to continue the impressive progress made in Klopp’s first full season as manager.
The Reds have quality in nearly every position on the pitch, with perhaps only the left side of defence being an area that, even when Klopp’s first choice XI is entirely available, continues to underwhelm.
Money has got to be spent to not only strengthen but improve on the resources that Klopp has available to him in the present moment.
Buying for the here and now
Liverpool are an aggregate win away from being part of the Champions League, a competition where the cold, hard reality is that those serious about success play with £40/50/60m+ players in their starting XI and £20m men warm their bench.
Let’s be real, this club and this manager are hungry for success.
Virgil van Dijk is not seen as the first-choice for competition with Dejan Lovren but instead would likely serve as the Croatian’s direct replacement in the starting XI – at least you’d hope so for £60m.
Similarly, Naby Keïta would not be joining Liverpool just to ‘bolster the squad’ but rather to inject some world-class quality into Klopp’s first choice starting line-up.
This is the world that Liverpool Football Club as a sum of all its parts live in right now and that’s what those in charge of transfers have got to be focused on.
Recent summer windows have been navigated with one eye firmly set on the future and while Klopp’s reported transfer targets/confirmed signings this summer are all yet to pass their mid-twenties – van Dijk and Salah are the oldest at 25 each – there is a feeling that due to their already proven pedigrees, they are as much signings for the here and now as they are for the future.
We are no longer in a period of transition. We are a top-four club and the aim now should be to use that as a base and continue building on it.
Champions League is now the minimum requirement and standards cannot be allowed to slip.
The issue of transfer availability
I’ve talked about this in depth in a previous article but I still see far too many fans ignoring the fact that players can only move if they’re made available by their clubs.
Our owners have always maintained that if the talent is there and available, we will pay for it, no matter the cost.
This has, of course, then led to wave after wave of inevitable criticism when the club miss out on their perceived ‘priority’ transfer targets and signed disastrous alternatives instead – Mario Balotelli anyone?
However, maybe we as fans have interpreted the statement wrong and been too quick to jump to conclusions.
The Reds missed out on signing Alexis Sanchez from FC Barcelona in 2014 due to the Chilean’s wish to move to London instead, while last summer Mario Götze wanted Champions League football and Borussia Mönchengladbach simply refused to make Dahoud available to purchase.
The failure to snare their signatures was nothing to do with Liverpool lowballing offers to their clubs, it was simply that this calibre of player was not yet available to us and sadly this issue could theoretically continue this summer, only in a different, slightly more frustrating context.
I genuinely believe the Reds will have no problem forking out £130m on van Dijk and Keïta if Klopp convinces the owners that they will be integral to the club’s trajectory remaining on an upward angle.
Money isn’t an issue for FSG, we know that by the amount they are able to pour into the Boston Red Sox and while funding won’t be unlimited, it’s not exactly going to be scarce either.
However, Liverpool are targeting both Southampton and RB Leipzig’s biggest assets and neither are going to be jubilant to let such a key player go.
We’ve only heard good things about player reactions to being targeted this summer with personal terms on the Salah transfer agreed rapidly, while if a deal had been entirely down to Virgil van Dijk, the Dutchman would already be a Liverpool player.
It’s now being able to convince other clubs to sell and sadly, while I’m a believer that every player has their price, sometimes money simply isn’t enough.
RB Leipzig are sitting on a literal goldmine of cash and are hungry for success, with their only goal to build a super-team that will compete not only for the various trophies that Germany has to offer but also for the highly coveted Champions League.
Southampton too – while they may not always show it on the football field – are a club with aspirations for success and Liverpool have bled them dry of major talents constantly over the last couple of seasons with Sadio Mané, Nathaniel Clyne, Adam Lallana and Dejan Lovren all key assets to have made the switch to Merseyside.
The Reds constant poaching of their players was going to hit a wall eventually and it seems that PR nightmare or not, their approach for van Dijk was never going to be made a smooth affair.
Trust in Klopp & live for the present
This is a huge transfer window for Liverpool Football Club but come what may, we must trust in those in power at the club to get business done and done efficiently.
Liverpool are set to bring in as little as five total players this summer and if that’s all that Klopp believes is necessary then so be it.
This is Klopp – along with FSG, Michael Edwards and everyone else in power at the club – finally living in the present and building on the foundations laid by a successful 2016/17 Premier League season.
Next summer we may sign as little as two players, or as many as eight. For now though, who cares? The club is living for the present, with the ambition of bringing success and trophies as soon as they possibly can.
While Dominic Solanke is an outlier as one earmarked for the future, the German only wants players who are better than what we have now.
Naby Keïta, Virgil van Dijk and Mohamed Salah all represent improvements on certain areas of the team that needed addressing and if that’s all the business that Klopp feels necessary – I do still believe he’ll sign another left back, probably Andy Robertson – then so be it.
As the squad improves, so does the quality in signings. This summer is going to be huge for this football club and if Klopp continues to solely address the areas that need fixing now then I have faith that our trajectory can only continue in one direction. Up.