It seems to the case every single year now but this summer transfer window had the potential to be the biggest in the clubs history. With Liverpool just needing to make subtle tweaks to a squad that amassed 97 points and a sixth European Cup, it was, on paper at least, a much easier task than in years gone by.
The Reds didn’t need a £60million-rated goalkeeper being courted by many of Europe’s elite. They didn’t need to part with a world-record fee to acquire the services of a defender. Instead, Liverpool needed a versatile forward capable of sharing the load with Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah as well as an understudy to Andrew Robertson at left-back.
A fairly straightforward brief but one that is proving to be anything but that. The market is, and has been for a while now, unstable. Valuations are erratic and as soon as Liverpool’s name is mentioned it feels like money is added onto that potential fee. Success really does come at a cost.
French media claim Nicolas Pepe is a target but at £60million it’s unlikely Liverpool will make a move for the 22-goal wide forward. If reports are to believed, it was a similar story with Lloyd Kelly. It was claimed the Reds were keen on the versatile defender but when Bournemouth offered close to double the mooted figure, Michael Edwards wasn’t interested.
Following on from the emphatic 6-0 victory over Tranmere Rovers to kick pre-season off in style, Jurgen Klopp addressed the question surrounding potential incomings.
“We brought them in already, only you don’t realise it. Rhian Brewster; [Alex] Oxlade-Chamberlain didn’t play last year; all the young boys today. They are all new players for us, that’s all good.
“The transfer market is open until August 8. The whole of Europe had the idea to close the transfer window early and the only country that did it was then England, so we close it now three weeks before all the others. We will see what we do but I don’t think it will be the biggest transfer window of all time.”
The key part of the manager’s comments, the bit all fans should pay attention to, is his reference to the young boys today being new players for the team. It suggests he’s looking to supplement the first-team with these wonderkids.
It’s a term often used on FIFA and Football Manager but make no mistake about it, the crop of youngsters coming through on Merseyside right now are wonderkids.
Rhian Brewster showed his goalscoring instincts at Prenton Park, netting twice in the 6-0 demolition. Bobby Duncan showed his sharpness when he reacted quickest in the area to fire home. Ki-Jana Hoever impressed, again, while Yasser Larouci looked like he could well be an option at left-back next season if Andrew Robertson needs a rest and Klopp doesn’t want to play James Milner or Joe Gomez there.
That’s without mentioning Paul Glatzel or Curtis Jones, both of whom have the potential to carve out a place in this Liverpool squad down the line.
The Reds are in the best place they’ve been for a while in terms of the production line. For years now the academy has been used as a way to supplement the first-team transfer budget. Now they’ve reached a level which sees the academy players supplement the first-team squad.
Liverpool are even using the transfer market to strengthen their pool of talented teens.
Sepp van den Berg arrived in a deal worth £2million and Harvey Elliott is the next man rumoured to be joining the Reds, though it isn’t official yet. Both are teenagers and aren’t likely to make a huge impact on first-team proceedings just yet but if they develop as expected they’re going to save Liverpool tens of millions in the market. Even if they fail to live up to the hype, Edwards will find a way to make huge profits on both.
This summer has seen a shift in the way the Reds operate in the market. Many put this down to the high fees being mooted but perhaps it’s something the club wanted to address this year specifically. To stock up on the next generation so there’s a steady flow of talent. Those mentioned will develop alongside the likes of Mane, Firmino, Salah, Van Dijk and the rest of the Champions League-winning squad. They’ll be better for it.
Then, when the time comes for the squad to be freshened up, the new signings can almost learn the Liverpool way from the youngsters. In a weird way, this summer could really be the biggest of the Premier League era for the Reds. Get it right and they’ve set themselves up for the next decade.