Jack Hallows details how Liverpool have gone from panic buying Mario Balotelli in 2014, to snapping up Fabinho and Alisson out of nowhere.
Before the final set of players had jetted off to the World Cup to link up with their national sides, Liverpool Football Club had already ‘done a madness’ by signing Fabinho from AS Monaco for £45m.
Incredibly, the transfer came out of nowhere, with reports published just the day before detailing Liverpool’s interest in other midfielders such as Jorginho and Ruben Neves.
Similarly, just days after Danny Ward was supposedly going to be Liverpool’s number one, a £67m deal was struck with AS Roma for well documented target Alisson Becker.
These deals have showcased a real evolution in Liverpool’s transfer dealings not just because of the magnitude of the transfer but because just last summer Liverpool were unwittingly open about their transfer business, resulting in being made to wait six and twelve months respectively for top targets Virgil van Dijk and Naby Keïta.
It’s also the latest indicator that Liverpool Football Club seem to have finally found the perfect combination of manager and recruitment team.
Let’s throw it back to the last World Cup to showcase just how far we’ve come since Jürgen Klopp teamed up with Michael Edwards.
The Reds had just finished second in the Premier League with Luis Suarez coming agonisingly close to propelling Liverpool to their first Premier League title.
Narrow miss aside, the club had still finished as the second best team in England, had an upcoming Champions League campaign to look forward to and boasted an exciting squad full of attacking talent that if nurtured correctly, could have brought big things to the red half of Merseyside.
Fast forward to the end of the 2014 summer window and the Reds had sold talisman Luis Suarez and replaced him with Dejan Lovren, Adam Lallana, Divock Origi, Lazar Markovic, Rickie Lambert and last minute panic buy, Mario Balotelli.
Despite having a sizeable budget available to invest in improving the glaring deficiencies in his squad, Brendan Rodgers had instead gambled heavily on the notion of quantity over quality and boy, oh boy… did it backfire.
Since Klopp and Edwards came together however, we’ve seen everything change.
Where previously the Reds seemed to just be cherry-picking random players in an effort to excite fans – Christian Benteke in 2015 was a perfect example – there has been a clear plan and mould in which the club have looked to buy over the last two years.
The need for pace has been identified and rectified with the signings of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mané and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, while the defence has been bolstered heavily by players from both ends of the transfer budget spectrum in Virgil van Dijk and Andy Robertson.
Players who have left have been replaced, with new boy Fabinho a replacement for – and most importantly, an upgrade on – Emre Can while links to Nabil Fekir of Lyon are once again gathering pace quicker than you can say “Liverpool’s Coutinho replacement.”
Most importantly, the club seem to be learning from past mistakes and are doing so incredibly quickly.
Fabinho’s transfer came with no ‘ITK’ rumour rubbish, no month long links in the French, Brazilian or British press and most importantly, no fuss. It was announced on the day he signed and confirmed just an hour later. The Reds had targeted, swooped and secured quickly and efficiently, the way it should be.
It’s also refreshing to know that panic buys are being avoided and as long as Klopp can secure the player he wants, he doesn’t care how long he has to wait.
Naby Keïta and Virgil van Dijk were claimed frequently to be the German’s main targets last summer and while neither arrived immediately, van Dijk was done on the first day of the winter window and Keïta will be a Red this coming season.
If you believe the reports, Klopp has also opted to wait for Fekir too, choosing to make alterations to his tactics over the back-end of the season just gone in order to pursue the Frenchman’s signing this summer, rather than signing a stop-gap replacement for Coutinho in January.
The owners are also deserving of credit in this situation too.
Where previously there was a seeming reticence to spend big and back our previous managers, they’ve realised they’re onto something good here with Klopp and have decided that whatever he needs will be at his disposal.
Liverpool’s transfer record sat at £35m at the beginning of last summer and since then, that has been equalled or surpassed on six separate occasions.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (£35m), Mohamed Salah (£36m), Fabinho (£45m), Naby Keïta (£52m), Alisson Becker (£67m) and Virgil van Dijk (£75m) have all commanded eye-watering fees but there has been no mention of an unwillingness to spend.
Of course, the consecutive Champions League finishes have brought with them extra funds while the £142m acquired in the sale of Philippe Coutinho has helped but one feels that even without these factors, our owners would’ve been willing to shell out whatever Klopp needed to bring together his dream squad.
While just four years ago Liverpool’s transfer dealings were a truly incredible mess, things are looking brighter and brighter on the red half of Merseyside and it looks as if a perfect balance really has been found.