Today I came across an idea – or rather stole it from the AnfieldIndex guys, in particular it was an article written by @SamMcGuire90 which you can read here.
Basically he was told to think like a Director of Football or Sports Director – or whatever name you want to use for that exact position – and concentrate only on the transfer aspect of it, leaving all the boring organisational stuff behind. He was also told to work with a budget of £100m but he can add money made from sales.
The money I’m going to be talking about will be purely as probable transfer fees between the clubs, excluding any agent fees/bonuses.
The first steps after being put into that position:
- Assessing the squad – quality of the players, personal issues, their situation at the club
- Assessing the financial part – players’ contracts, potential reward (fee) we could generate, their marketing rights and position
- Determining our needs related to the squad, positions
- Setting up our plan into negotiations and concrete lists of targets (which suit our requirements)
- Having 2 or 3 variations per each target – low-profile signing, experienced player, top class ready made player and a player for the future
- Deciding who to get
Goalkeepers: Simon Mignolet, Loris Karius, Danny Ward, Ryan Fulton*
Right Backs: Nathaniel Clyne, Conor Randall, Jon Flanagan
Left Backs: Alberto Moreno, Brad Smith
Centre Backs: Martin Škrtel, Dejan Lovren, Mamadou Sakho, Joel Matip, Joe Gomez, Tiago Ilori, Lloyd Jones*, Andre Wisdom*
Central Midfielders: Jordan Henderson, Lucas Leiva, Emre Can, Joe Allen, Marko Grujic, Kevin Stewart, Cameron Brannagan*, Jordan Williams*, Pedro Chirivella*, Allan*
Attacking midfielders/wide players: Adam Lallana, Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino, Lazar Markovic, James Milner, Jordon Ibe, Joao Teixeira, Sheyi Ojo*, Ryan Kent*, Luis Alberto, Sergi Canos*
Strikers: Daniel Sturridge, Divock Origi, Danny Ings, Christian Benteke, Mario Balotelli, Samed Yesil*, Jerome Sinclair*
Danny Ward – loan Huddersfield
Martin Škrtel – £5,7m Fenerbahce/Roma
André Wisdom – £3m Celtic*
Allan de Souza – loan
Joao Vilaca – £500k FC Porto
Samed Yesil – £230k Trabonzaspor*
Jerome Sinclair – £3m Watford FC
Senior players – staying put at the moment
Goalkeepers: Simon Mignolet, Loris Karius
Right-Backs: Nathaniel Clyne, Conor Randall, Jon Flanagan
Left-Backs: Alberto Moreno, Brad Smith
Centre-Backs: Dejan Lovren, Mamadou Sakho, Joel Matip, Joe Gomez, Tiago Ilori
Central Midfielders: Jordan Henderson, Lucas Leiva, Emre Can, Joe Allen, Marko Grujic, Kevin Stewart, Cameron Brannagan*
Attacking midfielders/wide players: Adam Lallana, Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino, Lazar Markovic, James Milner, Jordon Ibe, Sheyi Ojo*, Luis Alberto
Strikers: Daniel Sturridge, Divock Origi, Danny Ings, Christian Benteke, Mario Balotelli
That still leaves us with 32 players for a possibly below 50 games season, which is obviously too much.
*There are certain players that wouldn’t have to be registered such as Ojo, Ibe..
So let’s have a look at the possibility of sales/loans to generate money
- Lucas Leiva – Very experienced player, knows the club, the fans, the culture, was never good enough to be a starter – but could be kept as a good utility player in case of injuries, but considering the low number of games possibly being played next year, it would be a good idea to try to cash in on a few millions. There have been interest from Turkey and Serie A for the midfielder, any bid in excess of £4m would be accepted.
- Joe Allen – Out of contract next year, wants to play more minutes which won’t be guaranteed or given to him at LFC, Swansea & Celtic are both reportedly interested in the talented, but limited midfielder – £10m could be generated with the sale.
- Mario Balotelli – Enough has been written about one of the most talented players of his generation, real shame it didn’t work out for him and a bad choice followed a bad choice (clubs, managers, transfers) – Fenerbache are reportedly interested in the player with bid of around £8m coming in, it would be hard to say no.
- Lazar Markovic – Player that divides the opinions whether he should be given a chance under Klopp, or sold. It’s hard not to see why Klopp would be the right man for him, but looking at his previous season of struggling on and off the pitch – with performances or a lot of injuries, I would probably opt to sell him if an offer in around £12-15m came in.
- Jordan Henderson – If there was a player dividing the fan base as much as Henderson I can’t remember his name. The club’s captain, the english midfielder who sits on a £100,000 per week contract(worth £39,5m over the whole length) who simply isn’t anywhere near good enough to be a starter for a top club, let alone the captain, it’s just spectacular what the club has done in recent times. Any bid in excess of £14m would be accepted.
- Adam Lallana – I would relate to Sam’s words there, player you either hate or love, there is no middle ground. Player whose work ethic and close-ball control are on a spectacular level, but his intelligence, decision making, inability to run with the ball, to take-on defenders and lack of end product make him a player, that should be sold as long as he has some value considering he’s reaching his 28th birthday. Anything above £14m would be welcomed.
- Tiago Ilori – One of the most naturally talented defenders, who sadly paid the highest price for a lot of injuries and considerably poor attitude as the guy with the ‘worst training effort’ you ever saw. His representatives have been in contact with Spanish clubs – it should be Deportivo that came up with the most concrete offer, could expect bid of around £2-5m.
- Christian Benteke – There isn’t a more obvious sale of the summer from LFC is there? Doesn’t fit in with what we want to do, even though he put in really amazing numbers for a player without confidence, not fitting into the system, he’s obviously going to be sold – considering the poor transfer record, we can expect something in the region of £18-21m.
- Luis Alberto – Even if it is reported Jürgen Klopp’s wants the talented midfielder to take part in LFC’s pre-season, I can’t see him staying with his inability to live up to the tempo or physicality of Premier League and with reported interest of Deportivo and Granada, a bid in the region of £3m would definitely make me sale him.
- Jordon Ibe – Rumours are circulating about him being included in a potential deal for Sadio Mané, let’s just say we would try to loan him into a club in the Premier League – some club like Middlesborough for example.
This number of sales would put us on around £76.5m – excluding the sale of Jordan Henderson and Adam Lallana, as those probably won’t happen this summer for multiple reasons – let’s say the homegrown rule is the main issue.
Our squad consists of these players now:
Goalkeepers: Simon Mignolet, Loris Karius
Right-Backs: Nathaniel Clyne, Conor Randall, Jon Flanagan
Left-Backs: Alberto Moreno, Brad Smith
Centre-Backs: Dejan Lovren, Mamadou Sakho, Joel Matip, Joe Gomez
Central Midfielders: Jordan Henderson, Emre Can, Marko Grujic, Kevin Stewart, Cameron Brannagan*
Attacking midfielders/wide players: Adam Lallana, Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino, James Milner, Sheyi Ojo*
Strikers: Daniel Sturridge, Divock Origi, Danny Ings
That puts us into 24 players with Brad Smith, Conor Randall, Sheyi Ojo, Cameron Brannagan not needed to be registered – 20 players. Which gives us options for 5 new players + maybe a few players that are U21.
Let’s try to get into some of the options and the specific types of targets I was writing about earlier in the piece.
Signings – targets
Top class, established right-backs
- Fabinho (AS Monaco) – One of the most exciting right-backs in the world. Unusually tall for a right-back, but really good technically and strong on the ball and especially a really fast type of player – all of these attributes make him a universal player who can play multiple positions but arguably as a right-back he has enjoyed the brightest spell of his career in the 2014/2015 season with AS Monaco where he has been part of the best defence in the league. He is really strong in 1v1 situations, strong, athletic, fast type of player who has been sometimes criticised for being indisciplined positionally and for his lack of end product – which improved last season with 6 goals and 4 assists in the past season. Considering our lack of Champions League and Barcelona’s interest in him, it would probably be hard to compete with them, would have to most likely pay more than them and offer more money to him. Really hard deal, not necessity with Clyne. – Price around €22m.
- Sergie Aurier (PSG) – The best right-back in the world for the past 3 years apart from the past 2015/2016 season where he came up against the massive controversy where he talked badly about his teammates and made fun of his coach Laurent Blanc on Periscope. All of this made him get dropped from the first-team to the reserves and somewhat ruin his reputation of a hardworking, dedicated, man of heart player and a man that has been going with him since his Toulouse days. His ability on the football pitch can’t be matched by almost any other player in the same position, one of the most naturally gifted footballers in the world football, he’s the right footed, right sided version of David Alaba. He can play anywhere across the defence or midfield, his ball delivery into the box from wide areas is unmatched in the world football and his power, heading ability and intelligence in defending 1v1 are at such a high level that he rarely gets caught out. Still only 23, with a massive potential to get even better – one of the best full-backs in the world, would probably cost a fortune, especially with the coach Laurent Blanc departing. Fee could be around €25m.
Low profile signing
- Aritz Elustondo (Real Sociedad) – Reliable full-back who came through the ranks of Sociedad and just signed a new contract in January, would cost a lost but would offer defensive ability and reliability for years to come. Expected price around €20m.
- Joao Cancelo (Valencia CF) – The offensively minded full-back with a really great on-ball technique and dribbling would add a great dimension to our team considering Clyne’s inability to be worth passing the ball to while attacking. Really composed, arrogant type of fullback who sometimes struggles against players shoulder-to-shoulder who have more power and gets caught of position at times – things that can be definitely improved.
*Stefan Julian Korb, Montoya, Javier Manquillo, Daryl Janmaat, Gregory Van der Wiel
Top class, established right-sided Centre-Backs
- Medhi Benatia (Bayern München) – Benatia enjoyed a really bad spell at Bayern München as Pep Guardiola (as he usually does) had his preferred players and didn’t use him unless completely necessary which wasted a year of his career. Easily one of the best centre-backs in the world if he was playing regularly and given the faith he needs to perform well just like Rudi García gave him while at AS Roma. Estimated price £12m.
- Shkodran Mustafi (Valencia CF) – The German national defender with Albanian roots has been one of the most overlooked defenders in the past 3 years when he has been absolutely magnificent for both Sampdoria and in a very struggling Valencia side. The very positionally aware CB has an incredible timing of when to step out of line, when to make a tackle – something Liverpool fans wouldn’t know after having Martin Škrtel in front of their eyes for 8 years. He is apparently available for a price of around €12-15m which is an incredible price for an established, experienced, all-round great CB entering his prime.
- Mateo Musacchio (Villarreal) – Arguably the best Argentinian CB at the moment, the Villarreal defender struggled with injuries the last two seasons after he suffered a broken tibula two years ago and the past season (2015/2016) got ruined for him with two consecutive hamstring injuries (hello there, Liverpool). The tactically and positionally disciplined defender, with an eye for a pass into the midfield with understanding of playing the high line may offer something very different to the defenders Klopp has on his hands these days. Estimated price would be around €14-20m.
- Jonathan Tah – Arguably the best defender coming out of Germany from this generation. The reliable, fast, extremely powerful, tall, strong defender is everything you would want from the last man of your defensive line, but what makes him so special is that he’s much more than just physical attributes – his intelligence, positional awareness and ball playing ability make him the complete defender of the modern era and the natural successor to Jerome Boateng, sadly there is no needs for him to leave Bayer Leverkusen. €25-35m.
Low profile signing
- Semih Kaya (Galatasaray) – The former target of Sir Alex Ferguson is a 25 years old central defender from Turkey who excels in his drive to win and reading of the game. He has had problems with injuries in the past – especially with his groin that kept reappearing through out his career but when he’s fit, he is one of the stand-out defenders in the Turkish Super Lig, he isn’t that great on the ball, considerably on the same level as Martin Škrtel, but his reading of the game is excellent, predicting what his opponent is going to do next is at world class level – sometimes his mind doesn’t exactly match his body and he tends to give away needless foul/tackle, but he makes up for it by amazing last minute tackles or clearances. Very simplistic defender who would rather clear the ball 40yards before trying to dribble against 3 opponents. Price around £12m.
- Nikola Maksimovic (Torino) – The 24 years old Serbian defender has been getting a lot of attention after the last season, especially with West Ham United trying to sign him to partner Ogbonna. He is a really tall player – at 189cm, who isn’t shy of the ball and being very versatile – having played as a right full-back or defensive midfielder. Though on the ball he is really ‘simple’ – his defensive attributes are the main things to match from other defenders. He is really good in the air – on the ground, his biggest strength is the reading of the game, so he’s able to tackle or step-out of the line before the ball gets to a certain player and attempt a tackle. Sometimes he is way too ruthless and gives away needless fouls, but that happens and can be moderated by the manager. €8-15m.
- Nicolas N’Koulou (Marseille) – The Cameroonian defender who currently plays for Marseille is out of contract on 1st of July in 2016. N’Koulou is after a horrific season with Marseille, when they almost get relegated and he was really inconsistent, having some of the worst matches of the career that almost cost his team points if it wasn’t for the incredible S. Mandanda in goal. Before this season under Michel, he has had one of the best seasons of his career under the former boss Bielsa, who made him into an unstoppable and unbreakable force, who looked so awkward while running or on the ball, that he reminded of Mamadou Sakho, but he was never as good as Mama on the ball, but on the other hand, he rarely got bullied – even by the best strikers in the league such as Zlatan Ibrahimović. Very strong in tackling, often stepping against the attacking player, almost never backing off, reading the game well and intercepting passes he might be an ideal CB partner to either Sakho or Matip, considering they are both so great on the ball. Potential cost is £0m.
- Neven Subotić (BVB) – Out of favour defender of Tuchel may find a place in the team under his former boss – Jürgen Klopp at LFC. The reliable, strong in the air, very simple defender who is used to Klopp’s system may be a really great addition to challenge to younger defenders and pass his wisdom meanwhile he’s at the club. Potential cost £6-8m.
*Stefan De Vrij, Fabian Schär, Dedé
Top class, established left-sided centre-backs
- Samuel Umtiti (OL) – It’s definitely arguable whether you would call him an established LCB in the world of football. But he is definitely one of the best defenders available for transfer in the world. He is fast, athletic, strong in the air, very decent on the ball considering his experience as a full-back – you would probably call him the prototype of a modern defender, he can do it all. There is always a room for improvement, he makes mistakes vs stronger, taller, more experienced strikers but he can bounce back and continue on his level just minutes after, worth every penny going forward. £15-20m.
- Niklas Süle (Hoffenheim) – Even though the German defender mentioned just last week that he’d reject approaches from different teams across Europe mainly for the fact that he wants to play every week and his coach can give him that and that he believes that they can challenge for the Champions League spot in the next 2 years, he’d still be worth the gamble to try and go for if Mamadou’s ban was postponed or prolonged. The tall, powerful, strong defender is very smart and uses his intelligence to tackle his weakness – movement, speed and overall agility by positioning, under Klopp he may have a greater future. – price around £8-12m.
Low profile signing
- Wesley Hoedt (Lazio) – The former AZ Alkmaar defender is very strong in the Serie A for Lazio. He is a tall (188cm) left footed defender, whose biggest strength is reading of the game and the ability to predict. He is really strong at interception of the ball, heading and overall he’s dealing with situations the simplest ways possible. He isn’t that great for a team that loves to have a lot of possession and loves it’s CBs to break the first defensive blocks – although on the other hand, his interception-ability is great for starting counter-attacks. – price around £6-10m.
- Jairo Riedewald (Ajax Amsterdam) – The 19 years old LCB was brought up playing multiple positions – mainly a left full-back or right in front of the defence as the ‘number 6’. He is a strong, composed lad who is good on the ball and especially tackling cleanly, but he isn’t that tall and very good in the air, which may be an issue for Jürgen. – Cost around £6-14m.
* Éder Balanta, Ezequiel Garay, Iñigo Martínez
Top class, established left-backs
- Wendell (Bayer Leverkusen) – He is the natural successor for Marcelo at Real Madrid even after such a horrific season as the last one (0 goals or assists in the league). Young, fast, and very good on the ball, he is a modern type of full-back who’s main idea is to attack and support to attack. He isn’t that strong at delivering the ball as he’s much better on overlapping defenders and taking them on and winning space for his teammates and cutting the ball back into an open area. He is also very strong at winning fouls for his team. In the defensive aspect of the game, he’s probably the weakest of the three mentioned in this category, can be caught out of position often – which can be caused by Roger Schmidt’s system and he is sometimes way too passive in 1v1s so the attacker can cross the ball without much of a trouble. €25-34m.
- Ricardo Rodriguez (Wolfsburg) – If it wasn’t for David Alaba in the Bundesliga, he would be the left-back in that league, maybe in the whole world for at least the past two seasons. Absolutely unreal, reliable fullback who can do it all. Very strong positionally, good 1v1, amazing delivery of the ball, set-piece specialist. Only one of a kind, if it wasn’t for Alaba. €25m.
- Lucas Digne (AS Roma) – €12-16m.
- Jonas Hector (FC Köln) – The reliable, ‘boring’ player every team wants and needs. Extremely consistent player, rarely makes a mistakes, has his faults in the attacking aspect of the game, but incredibly reliable defensively. €16-24m.
Low profile signing
- Jetro Willems (PSV) – Jetro had a spectacular 2014/2015 season with 2 goals and 13 assists in 2455 minutes which is one G/A every 165 minutes which is unreal for a full-back. Unlucky for him this season, he has missed the whole pre-season as he was out since July 2015 until January of 2016 with a knee injury but still, after he came back he managed to get 2 goals and 4 assists in 989 minutes – which is still G/A every 169 assists which is unbelievable and gives you an idea where his strengths lie. When I saw him live in 2014 in Prague, in the Viktoria Žižkov stadium where the Netherlands U21s lost to the Czech Republic U21s, I would never believe you I would say this, but I believe he has the potential to become a top class attacking full-back under the right management and in the right system. He was ruthless, easily bullied off the ball and overall poor in possession in that game, things you would hardly ever hear or read about him from his PSV days. He isn’t that strong defensively, who knows how he would do against powerful wingers week in, week out, but overall he was a reliable fullback in the Eredivise and in attack, he is top class.
- Oliver Sorg (Hannover 96) – Versatile player, can play both full-back roles, reliable, can come to midfield also. €6-10m.
- Jordan Amavi (Aston Villa) – The £8,25m signing from Nice hasn’t experienced the best possible debut campaign in the Premier League after he ended up playing in a relegated Aston Villa side and especially after playing only 12 games for the side and then rupturing his cruciate ligament which left him out of the game until summer. If we don’t take into consideration the awful game he has had against Crystal Palace, he was the stand out performer in almost all of the 10 Premier League games he has been part of. A very good dribbler of the ball who is good at using both of his feet, running with the ball at pace and delivering extremely dangerous and accurate crosses from different situations – make him a really valuable asset for an attacking side. In defence he often uses his strengths to his advantage – speed and tackling – when he often lures the attacker to push the ball down the line and challenge him in a pure sprint battle which he usually wins. His major flaw is inexperience which can be sometimes highlighted in poor decision making under pressure, his aerial duels as he is not that strong and that sometimes he tries to take way too much of a risk in order to get the ball so he ends up fouling the opposing player. €12m
*Ricardo Pereira, Djibril Sidibe, Aaron Creswell, Maxwell
Continue reading for central midfield, attacking midfielder and strikers on page 2!