Saturday 22 October 2016

Why were Liverpool so quiet in the transfer market?

Chris Bascombe

Published 02/02/2016 | 12:31

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp

Chris Bascombe looks at the reasons why Jurgen Klopp only added Steven Caulker to his squad.

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Is the lack of signings a surprise?

Yes, given they made such a hefty bid for Alex Teixeira. Before chief executive Ian Ayre was invited by Shakhtar Donetsk to discuss a deal the answer would have been no. Jürgen Klopp stated on numerous occasions he wants to give the current squad until the end of the season to prove they’re part of his plans longer-term. The Teixeira bid was optimistic after initial positive vibes from the Ukrainians, but those encouraging signs faded as soon as Ayre held talks.

It is now obvious there was a game at play, the Ukrainian club happy to publicise interest in the player ahead of a summer auction. Klopp wasn’t so desperate to start using up so much of his budget on one player and his alternatives were not available.

At the start of January we never expected much transfer activity from Liverpool so from that perspective it’s not such a shock. Obviously there is a feeling from supporters the cherry was put to their lips and then pulled away. That always creates a sense of deflation, but this summer is more important.

Why did they get nobody in?

Because Klopp won’t let short-term necessities interfere with his long-term plan. He’s taken a decision based on the next three years rather than three months. There will be those who will suggest it is the club’s owners failing to back their new manager, but such claims belong in a Pixar script.

We’ve also got to get away from references to the Liverpool transfer ‘committee’. That is so 2012-15. We know the club tries to pretend it didn’t really exist even though one of their former employees coined the phrase, but in fairness the concept is overplayed more than Jose Enrique in a cup run.

It has been from the moment Brendan Rodgers asked for Christian Benteke and got him for £32m despite the serious reservations of senior recruitment staff. Just months after this, it is preposterous when anyone suggests the Liverpool manager does not get backing.

The current situation has seen the recruitment staff defer to Klopp. He could not have made it clearer the bidding for Teixeira ended not only with his support, but also at his request. He has other players he wants who will be available in the summer and not now. He’ll have a significant budget before next season.

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What sort of reaction can Liverpool expect to the lack of new faces?

As usual that will be determined by results. In the January of 2014 there was consternation when Liverpool failed to sign Mohamed Salah, back in the days when Rodgers was delivering a weekly staunch defence of the club’s transfer policy. Within a few months Liverpool were close to winning the title.

What Klopp really needs is Daniel Sturridge to get on the pitch at the same time as Philippe Coutinho. If that ever happens – no matter how far-fetched it sounds given recent history – Liverpool has the top class striker they need. If it doesn’t and this campaign wilts, there will be criticism not only of the signings they failed to make in January, but those they have made in the last 18 months.

It is valid to ask why the club did not have a Plan B when the Teixeira bids were blocked, but Klopp is obviously prepared to be patient rather than take risks to construct the squad he wants.

How damaging might it be to their chances this season?

If there is a genuine aspiration to finish top four this season it is damaging. Realistically, Liverpool’s target is the three cup competitions and a significant upturn in league performances.

It’s highly unlikely they’ll finish top four now. If Teixeira was the difference between finishing 4th or 6th, maybe he was worth £35m. If the difference is 5th or 7th, it was wiser to pull out of negotiations.

Again, much more depends on Liverpool getting their best players out on the pitch more often. Klopp has never had the luxury of picking from a fully fit squad since he moved to Anfield.

Will there be activity in the summer?

One hundred per cent yes. The question is not whether there will be major changes but how deep they will go. Does Klopp feel he needs an influx of six or seven players or will he focus resources on three or four more expensive players to sprinkle the stardust? The former might be needed but the latter is probably be preferable. Liverpool have bought in huge numbers in recent summers but quantity has not equalled quality.

A new spine is needed to this team – a keeper, dominant centre-half, central midfielder and reliable goalscorer. Klopp’s player judgment is expected to be sounder than others who preceded him. It needs to be if this squad is going to achieve the minimum requirement of 70 points over the course of a season usually required to compete for a Champions League place.

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